Sunday, 19th September marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a public holiday created in the 90s as a fun way to get everyone to talk like a pirate. As pirates, the British ones at least, are generally thought to have west country accents, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to delve into Sidmouth’s past and see what connections it has with the Golden Age of Piracy.
When you think of pirates in Devon, no doubt your mind goes to other areas of the county, like Brixham, where they have a pirate festival, and North Devon, Lundy Island was in fact seized by pirates on several occasions. There is however, evidence that pirates were operating around Devon’s east coast, especially around the Jurassic Coast area, where there were plenty of caves to hide in.
The village of Beer, which can be found just along the coast from Sidmouth, was the headquarters of a gang of smugglers led by the infamous Jack Rattenbury who was known as the Rob Roy of the West. Everything we know about him today came from his diaries which document everything from his birth in Beer through to the age of 15 when he decided to turn his hand to privateering. Many places across the Jurassic Coast are named in his writings including Beer, Seaton and Sidmouth. Ladram Bay, between Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth, was convenient for smugglers because of its isolated location and it was said that smugglers often land cargo there.
So, this year, when you try out your best pirate impression, think of the locations around east Devon where pirates once terrorised the coast.