As the social centre of North Devon, Barnstaple always has lots to do; whether it’s meeting friends for dinner and a night out, taking in a show at the Queen’s Theatre, or browsing the appealing mix of big brand shops and traditional family businesses along the High Street.
Barnstaple is one of the UK’s oldest boroughs as well as being one of the largest towns in North Devon. It is home to a number of the well-known historic markets, as well as being the base of the flagship Brend Hotels chain. It’s no surprise that it is one of the region’s premier towns. As can be expected of somewhere with a rich history, there are plenty of things to see and do to learn more about the town’s heritage as well as regular events which celebrate the culture of this part of Devon.
One of the most famous heritage attractions in Barnstaple is the historic Pannier Market which plays host to a range of events – from regular markets to showcases of delicious local produce and incredible street food. The Pannier Market has been the host of markets for over 1,000 years and has been standing since the 1800s. While these days the markets are more varied, you can still find a regular famers’ market here as well as a wide variety of other events where you can find everything from clothes, art and other locally produced items. The Pannier Market is flanked by Butcher’s Row, a terrace of ten shops under an iron roof, which as the name suggests, historically was the location of a number of butchers. These days, there are instead a host of interesting independent stores which cements Barnstaple’s draw as a haven for shoppers.
Barnstaple is a town that offers a little bit of everything, but with a real family friendly focus, there are several family friendly attractions, eateries and other places of interest that are suitable for all ages.
Find out more about the region’s history at one of the local museums ,including the The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, which is the perfect way to discover more about North Devon. The collections and displays cover the natural and human history of our beautiful part of the country, including the Pre-History of North Devon, the Tarka Gallery and the Regimental Collection of the Royal Devon Yeomanry.
Not just a shopping hub
Though full of shopping opportunities and being one of the largest towns in the region, there are plenty of things to do among the bustling streets that don’t involve exercising your credit card.
The region is a cultural hub for artists and historians with regular art and craft events taking place throughout the year. You’ll also find a whole host of places showcasing the best in live local music and live theatre. Barnstaple is the perfect place for taking in dinner and a show as there are a wide range of eateries offering cuisine from around the world and the majority are independently owned and pride themselves on the quality of the local produce.
Barnstaple is also home to play cafes and an ever-popular park (complete with a skate park and bike trails for older kids). For wet weather days, you’ll find cinemas, soft play centres and bowling to keep everyone happy.
Find the castle and the elephant!
Just next to the library in the town centre, you’ll find the remains of Barnstaple Castle, this former Motte and Baily Castle was a main feature of the town during Norman times. The site is thought to have originally been a Saxon graveyard and has also been developed during the Victorian era. These days, you can reward yourself for finding the castle with the incredible views of the Taw Valley from the top.
It isn’t just the remains of a castle that can be found in the town. You can also find the remains of the Barnstaple Elephant which is housed in one of the town’s museum. The elephant was discovered in the town and has been dated back to a species that died out over 115,000 years ago!