Visit Barnstaple and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Barnstaple, Devon, was minting its own coins in the 10th century and is one of the oldest boroughs in Britain, Till the rapid growth of the Torbay area in the 19th century it was Devon's third largest town. During the Middle and Elizabethan Ages it was a major textile and shipbuilding centre and port. It also made beautiful tiles, seen on some church floors, for example at Launcells. Its textile industry declined in the 17th century. Ship-building continued till 1880. By about that time silting up of the Taw estuary had taken all importance from its port. It remains, however, North Devon's largest town, an important agricultural centre and, increasingly, an industrial one.
The town has a fine estuary setting, with a 16-arch bridge, originally built c. 1437 but much widened and renewed. Not in general outstandingly picturesque, it has, however, several attractive small areas. Of these perhaps the nicest is between the south-east end of the narrow High Street and Boutport Street. Here, behind the Guildhall (1826)is Butchers Row, an extremely pretty and unusual mid-19th-century street of small identical shops. A gap between these leads to a retreat of grass and trees, flanked by the parish church with its l7th-century lead spire, the early-l4th-century St Anne's Chapel and, facing a lane off it, a row of 17th-century almshouses. Opposite the Guildhall, the Three Tuns, though considerably altered, is still recognizably 15th-century. A little South West, the Royal Fortescue Hotel and the Westminster Bank (formerly a hotel, too) are excellent 17th-century buildings, and the latter has a very fine decorated plaster ceiling.
Probably the town's most famous structure is Queen Anne's Walk (originally 1609, rebuilt c. 1708), a little arcade, much carved and topped with a statue of Queen Anne. Situated between the Strand and the old quay, it was where merchants and ship-owners did business. A little North West a mound in a park marks the site of the town's castle, which was probably early 12th-century.
Back in the main square by the bridge, the dark-red Athenaeum (1888) houses a library. In Litchdon Street, which runs off the square, is a courtyard of very pretty 17th-century almshouses, also a famous pottery that can be visited. Holy Trinity Church (c. 1847) has a grand tower.
Barnstaple's heroes include John Gay (b. 1685), author of The Beggar's Opera; James Wilson, a sea-captain taken prisoner by the Spaniards, who was offered freedom in return for piloting the Armada, and refused; and Sir Francis Chichester.
Pilton, now a suburb to the North, is of older foundation than Barnstaple, existing in King Alfred's day to protect the estuary from Danes. Its church, in an area of attractive old houses, has a mid-l5th-century screen of unusual type and two stately monuments to Chichesters.
Marwood church, 3 miles North, has a beautiful screen, though only part of it remains.
Nearby towns: Bideford, Combe Martin, Great Torrington, Ilfracombe, South Molton
Nearby villages: Arlington, Ashford, Atherington, Bickington, Bideford, Bishops Tawton, Bittadon, Bratton Fleming, Braunton, Chittlehamholt, Chittlehampton, Chivenor, Croyde, East Down, Eastleigh, Filleigh, Fremington, Georgeham, Goodleigh, Instow, Kentisbury, Knowle, Loxhore, Lynmouth, Lynton, Mortehoe, Northam, North Molton, Oare, Roborough, Satterleigh, Shirwell, Sticklepath, Stoke Rivers, Swimbridge, Tawstock, Umberleigh Bridge, Warkleigh, Weare Giffard, West Down, Westleigh, Westward Ho, Winsham, Woolacombe, Wrafton
Have you decided to visit Barnstaple or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Barnstaple bed and breakfast (a Barnstaple B&B or Barnstaple b and b)
- a Barnstaple guesthouse
- a Barnstaple hotel (or motel)
- a Barnstaple self-catering establishment, or
- other Barnstaple accommodation