Visit Plymouth and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Plymouth, Devon. With a population of nearly three times that of any other town in the South-West apart from Bristol, Plymouth is a city (since 1928, embracing the formerly separate towns of Devon-port and Stonehouse) without a cathedral. Because it was the base of Elizabethans like Drake, Raleigh, Hawkins and Gilbert, rather than by official choice, it became, during the 16th-century Spanish Wars, the base of the English Navy. On the Hoe, so tradition says, Drake finished his game of bowls before dealing with the Armada. Then in 1689, with William of Orange's decision to build the Royal Dockyard on the marshes that were to become Devonport, about a mile west (at that time) of the town, it gained the Navy officially; and has kept it.
It is a city of distinct parts, two of them well worth wandering through: its modern central area and the Barbican. German bombs, 1940-3, smashed its centre even more comprehensively than Exeter's; Plymouth's rebuilding has been much the more ambitious. No other West Country market has such almost oriental vitality and concern for appearance in its stall dressing. Slightly less of a success is the Guildhall, partly - including its tower - 1870-4, rebuilt. The windows of its main hall are quite interesting. Far better, however and indeed the best modern windows in Devon, are those by John Piper in the Parish Church of St Andrew's next door, which was bombed and has now been restored. Immediately south east of this church, the 15th-century Prysten House is the city's oldest building, probably built for the monks of Plympton Priory (4 miles north east) who till 1439 ruled the place.
Then the Barbican. This, perhaps the most attractive small urban area in Devon, is the site of the original town as Drake knew it, beside the harbour of Sutton Pool around which, in the 12th century when Exeter was a major city, was merely “a mene thing as an inhabitation for fishers”. Its streets are narrow and sloping; the harbour packed with boats both for pleasure and commercial fishing. Two or three new housing blocks blend excellently with the old - notably Hanover Court. Several genuine Elizabethan merchants' houses survive, and No. 32 New Street is period furnished and open to inspection, as is in Southside Street, the l6th-century refectory of a Dominican friary incorporated in a gin distillery. On the Quay the Old and New Customs Houses were built in 1586 and 1810 respectively. At the Mayflower Steps, plaques commemorate that and other famous sailings. And there are good pubs about.
After these two areas there is, of course, the Hoe, with one of Britain's great harbour-views, and the outstanding Aquarium of the Marine Biological Association beside the Citadel. The best thing about this otherwise dreary barracks, founded in 1670 by Charles II to keep in order the town which had for two years resisted his father's forces, is its Baroque main gateway. Smeaton's Tower was from 1759 to 1882 the lighthouse on Eddystone Rock (14 miles south). It was replaced because the rock began to give way and was re-erected as a decoration on the Hoe. Drake's Island in the Sound, one-time fortress, then a prison, can be seen from Plymouth Hoe.
Other attractions are scattered. Perhaps the grandest building in the city is the Royal William Victualling Yard (naval supply centre) built 1826-35 by Sir John Rennie. It is in Stonehouse, about 1 mile west of the Hoe; not open but well seen from the Cremyll Ferry or the end of the pier at low tide. Further west in Devonport, H.M. Dockyard. Back in Plymouth, in the middle of a roundabout, the shell of Charles Church (1664) - said to be the only church built in Devon in that century.
Suburbs of Plymouth: Compton, Crabtree, Crownhill, Devonport, Efford, Eggbuckland, Ernesettle, Estover, Greenbank, Ham, Hartley, Honicknowle, Hooe, Keyham, Kings Tamerton, Leigham, Lipson, Mannamead, Milehouse, Millbridge, Morice Town, Oreston, Pennycomequick, Peverell, Plympton, Plymstock, Southway, St. Budeaux, Stoke, Stonehouse, West Hoe, Weston Mill, Whitleigh
Nearby towns: Callington, Ivybridge, Launceston, Liskeard, Salcombe, Saltash, Tavistock, Torpoint
Nearby villages: Bickleigh, Bixton, Cawsand, Elburton, Hatt, Millbrook, Milton Combe, St Germans, Wembury, Yealmpton, Yelverton
Have you decided to visit Plymouth or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Plymouth bed and breakfast (a Plymouth B&B or Plymouth b and b)
- a Plymouth guesthouse
- a Plymouth hotel (or motel)
- a Plymouth self-catering establishment, or
- other Plymouth accommodation