Monday, February 22, 2016

Devon coastal villages - a seagoing tradition

There is nothing quite like the quintissential English coastal town to conjure up images of shipwrecks, smugglers and hidden bounty. Many of these villages were perched on the sides of the cliffs usually guarding entrances to rivers used to transport goods to major towns further inland. At the mouths of many of these rivers, garrisons were built to keep out the French and, in particular, the Spanish Armada. 
Dartmouth is a prime example with a fort on each side of the river mouth and is now home to the Naval Academy. This is a very desirous town and property prices reflect this. 
Many of the villagers were humble fishermen who eked out a living by selling the contraband they managed to forage from shipwrecks. Houses were built close together next to the water, often with a look out on the top of the building so the wife could keep a watch for her returning husband.
Brixham is a prime example of a fishing village. Even today the fishermen sell their catch direct to the consumer from the docks or the pebbly beach, as is the case in Budleigh Salterton.

The tide is out at Outer Hope

The tides are large here in England so may be responsible for many of the shipwrecks. Rocks that are visible at low tide appear to disappear at high tide. And for captains unused to a particular stretch of coast, these tides and rocks can be particularly treacherous.

England's seafaring history is renowned and in this photo of Brixham you can see the replica of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind. The legend goes that as the Spanish Armada was sighted approaching England Drake was on Plymouth Hoe playing bowls. He decided to finish his game before setting sail and defeating the Spanish.
The docks in Plymouth where the Mayflower set sail for the Americas in 1621 and also where the Tolpuddle Martyrs returned to England after being transported to Australia
Plymouth Hoe where Drake was playing bowls

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