Visit Bideford and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Bideford, Devon. Once a considerable port, it now looks for its trade mainly to a farming hinterland, some light industry and tourists.
Its greatest years as a port were the 200 starting from c. 1550. The Grenville family patronized it and gained it its charter of incorporation in 1573. The defiant little Revenge, of Sir Richard's epic fight with 15 Spanish ships off the Azores in 1591, was crewed by Bideford men. Its shipbuilding yards were renowned. It both manufactured and exported cloth, and imported wool from Spain and Ireland to supply the famous weavers of Devon. From Newfoundland, it shipped salted cod; from America more tobacco between 1700 and 1755 than any other port in Britain (an American Indian is buried in its churchyard). Amid all this mercantile affluence, it was the home of Devon's last three executed witches (1682).
For various reasons its traditional overseas trades declined in the late 18th century, and its port's business gradually dwindled thereafter. Yet its broad, tree-shaded quay remains lively with coasters and occasionally small ships from the Baltic; and its best street, Bridgeland, west of the Quay, laid out with rich merchants' houses c. 1690, still has some good façades of that period. The bridge, replacing a timber one, was built in c. 1460. widened in 1925. It is curious in that each of its 24 arches is of different width. In 1968 it began to fall down and was closed to traffic for three months, causing much unexpected business for local boatmen. It was subsequently widened as well as repaired. The nearby St Mary's Church, mainly rebuilt in 1865, has a fine Norman font but little else exciting. Beside Victoria Park, near the north end of the Quay, is a pleasant small art gallery. The cannons round the bandstand in this park are said to have come from Armada galleons. Across the river in the Royal Hotel, which was originally a merchant's house (1688), Charles Kingsley wrote part of Westward Ho!
Rowing is popular locally, with a regatta usually held in early September, and the estuary is good for sailing. Lime-burning for fertilizer was formerly quite a big local industry, and about 2 miles upstream, beside the Torridge's tributary, the Yeo, is a grand old lime-kiln looking rather like a castle, best seen from the river.
Nearby towns: Bude, Barnstaple, Great Torrington, Hatherleigh, South Molton, Stratton
Nearby villages: Abbotsham, Appledore, Braunton, Clovelly, Fairy Cross, Fremington, Huish, Inslow, Monkleigh, Northam, Parkham, Westward Ho, Woodtown, Yelland
Have you decided to visit Bideford or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Bideford bed and breakfast (a Bideford B&B or Bideford b and b)
- a Bideford guesthouse
- a Bideford hotel (or motel)
- a Bideford self-catering establishment, or
- other Bideford accommodation