With connections to the English Civil War and WWII, there is plenty of history to be found in North Devon. Whether you’re wandering around Exmoor or visiting one of the many museums in the region, you’re never too far away from discovering something new about the area. Did you know for instance, that some of the oldest golf courses in the UK can be found here? Or that the beaches were used as training for D-Day?
If you’re a history buff or you want to find something new to do when visiting the area, here are some suggestions of heritage attractions that will keep the whole family entertained.
One way to experience the region’s heritage is to visit the village of Clovelly, once owned by the crown, it is now a privately owned village that retains much of its original features, including cobbled streets and no vehicle access. All deliveries are made using a herd of rescue donkeys! The harbour and many of the buildings date back to the 14th century, and every visit is like stepping back in time.
Similarly, you can visit Lundy Island which is just off the coast of Ilfracombe. Lundy Island is a small island with a lot of history – at one time it was even ruled over by a band of pirates! These days it is a Marine Conservation Zone and is home to the south west’s best known puffin colony. There are a few buildings dotted around the island but there is no electricity, so it really is a blast from the past. There are places to stay on the island for those that really want a detox from modern life. Speaking of pirates, Appledore is another great place to find out more about North Devon’s connections with the Golden Age of Piracy. Not only will you find a museum which has a focus on the region’s maritime past, but the whole town is full of quaint fishermen’s cottages and has a real focus on the history of sailing and fishing.
One of the region’s best loved heritage attractions is Hartland Abbey and Gardens. This stately home has featured in a host of films and TV shows over the years and has been in the same family for generations. It was originally built in the 12th Century, initially as a monastery, though after the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a family home and features decorations from the medieval period through to the Victorian era. The Abbey and gardens will reopen on 19th March for Daffodil Day, so get the date in your diaries.
If you have an interest in fine craftsmanship, take a trip to Dartington Crystal. As well as being a place to buy their high quality produce, it also features an exhibition spanning over 50 years and charting the history glass blowing. At the heart of the site is their factory experience where you can see where the products are being made before picking them up in the shop.