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Facts

DEVON

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FUN FACTS

Devon is the 3rd largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Devon has the 11th highest population in England.
Devon is in 41st place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. If having the word "Royal" in its name wasn't enough, the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth can list as its previous cadets, King George V, King George VI, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince William. Not only that but, as you may have heard, it was while he was a naval cadet there in 1939 that the late Prince Philip met Princess Elizabeth as she then was.

    Royal Navy officer training has been taking place in Dartmouth since 1863 and since 1998 it has been the sole centre of Royal Navy officer training. An old wooden ship, HMS Britannia, was moored in the River Dart as the first base and in 1864 another wooden hulk, HMS Hindostan, was added. The current stone buildings. as seen in the photo, were completed in 1905 and the first cadets arrived in September 1905. The ship now moored in the River Dart still bears the name "Hindostan" although it is a more modern minehunter class. The college was bombed during WWII and cadets moved to Cheshire until 1946.

    Should you wish to consider a career as an officer in the Royal Navy you would need to have at least 72 UCAS points, as at 2021. Then you go through an interview board at the Admiralty where you would undergo physical fitness tests, mental aptitude tests and a medical examination. Most cadets join after uni but some join directly from secondary school. You can join between the ages of 18 and 39 which basically adds yet another reason as to why I won't be there.

  3. Devon Eats
  4. Devon and Cornwall are famous for their cream teas although there is a subtle difference as to how they are served. A cream tea is basically a mid-afternoon snack, popular with the upper class in olden days, comprising of scones, clotted cream, jam and a pot of tea. As I don't drink tea, or coffee for that matter, I only make use of the edible part of a cream tea, which I thoroughly enjoy.

    Cream teas exist elsewhere but an authentic Devonshire or Cornish cream tea should have warm scones. The scones are not buttered. Traditionally you would have strawberry jam, not any other flavour, and only clotted cream not whipped cream.

    Clotted cream is a golden-yellow colour made by using unpasteurized cow's milk, again tradition says the milk should be from Jersey cows, and letting it sit for up to 24 hours in a shallow pan and then slowly heating it and leaving it to cool for another 12-24 hours. The cream that rises to the surface and "clots" is skimmed off and served and that is clotted cream. My mother had a relation who lived in Devon and each year would post us a can of clotted cream. Mother would make scones and we would have a cream tea.

    I mentioned at the start that there was a subtle difference to Cornish cream teas and Devonshire cream teas and this is it. In Devon you split your scone in half, cover each half with clotted cream and add strawberry jam on top. In Cornwall you split your scone the same way but coat each half with jam and put a spoonful of clotted cream on top of that. Which do you prefer?

  5. Devon VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Devon in the last 100 years:-
    Guy Burgess (Diplomat/Spy), Sue Barker (TV Presenter/Tennis Player), Chris Martin (Singer/Songwriter - Coldplay), Miranda Hart (Actor/Comedian), Tom Daley (Diver), Jo Pavey (Athlete) and Wayne Sleep (Dancer).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Normally, lifeboats are launched from their station and straight into the sea. You can see these lifeboat stations all around the coast of England. But, one foul January night in 1899 a lifeboat crew, actually took their lifeboat on a 14 mile (just over 20kms) overland journey, climbing up a 300 metre hill and down again. Now, that is not only weird but an amazing story.

    The lifeboat at Lynmouth, in Devon, was called the Louisa. Normally she would launch from the beach there but on this night, 12th January, a telegraph message came in that a large vessel was in trouble in the Bristol Channel. But the sea was so rough that it was impossible to launch from the beach, the waves were crashing over the sea wall. It was decided to launch along the coast at Porlock Weir where the harbour was better protected. At 8pm a dozen men set out with picks and shovels to widen the road so the boat and its carriage could get through. 20 horses were borrowed from a local farm to help the men and women of Lynmouth haul the boat up the hill to Countisbury and then down the other side to Porlock. At one stage the road was so narrow the boat had to be taken off the carriage and moved on skids while the carriage was sent on ahead over the open moor.

    The Louisa reached Porlock Weir at 6am the following morning. They launched the lifeboat and went to assist the Forest Hall, a three-masted cargo vessel returning from Bristol to Liverpool. The Forest Hall was then towed to Barry in South Wales for repairs. The 13-man lifeboat crew returned to Lynmouth the following day having gone 36 hours without sleep.

    In 1999, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the rescue 50 local Lynmouth people and 4 shire horses re-created the journey. The Lynmouth lifeboat ceased operating in 1944.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. We're staying in Lynmouth for this story too. The river Lyn flows quietly through the town, under a couple of bridges and then on out to the sea. That's the scene nowadays. But, back on Friday 15th August 1952, it was very different. The water that feeds the river comes from high up on Exmoor. There are many little streams which feed into the East and West Lyn before they join up.

    August had seen lots of rain that year. 9 inches (230mm) had fallen on August 15th. Normally much of the rain would be absorbed up on Exmoor but on this day there was too much. As the rain began to tumble down through the streams it got faster and had more force. Soil and boulders joined the flow of water. Bridges began to collapse as the water rushed against them. The wall of water, vegetation, soil, rocks and boulders hit Lynmouth.

    Essentially Lynmouth was destroyed that night. More than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged, 28 bridges were destroyed, 38 cars washed out to sea and, tragically, 34 people lost their lives; 420 were made homeless. Guests in the local hotel spent the night on the top floor as water entered the first and second floors. 114,000 tons of rubble were cleared from the village. It was estimated that the rain that fell on that one day would have provided enough water for the population of Lynmouth for over 100 years.

    It took nearly six years to rebuild Lynmouth and there is now a flood overflow area which has been designed to hold one and a half times the amount of water that came down on that fateful August night so it is hoped that such a disaster could never happen again.

    The small group of houses further upstream at Middleham were never rebuilt and there is now a memorial garden. The Flood Memorial Hall in Lynmouth, near the harbour, was built on the site of the old lifeboat station, one of the buildings destroyed in the flood. I've visited Lynmouth three times on my travels and, knowing the story, it is a strange feeling to look at the tranquil river and try to imagine what happened there on that night.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. As you can see from our map at the top of the page and our fun facts, Devon is a large county. I have only seen a small part of it and I know I want to go back. It is so varied and so beautiful. It is home to two National Parks, Exmoor and Dartmoor. These are inland and I have really only driven through them. Let me take you, in my memory, along the coastal parts I have seen, loved and enjoyed. Oh, by the way, Devon has a coast that faces north west, south and east.

    We'll begin our journey on the north coast, just after leaving Somerset. I've already told you a lot about Lynmouth, almost the first coastal place you come to, but on top of the cliffs above Lynmouth is Lynton. You can get there up a 1-in-4 road or, when I was last there, up a cliff railway operated by a 700 gallon water tank fitted to each car. The track was about 900ft long and climbs 300 ft and opened in 1890. Also, a little further inland here, is a place called Waters Meet. I only found this on my first trip, it was mid-Autumn, and the trees and scenery were stunning.

    Head west along this rocky coastline and you eventually come to Ilfracombe. If you do nothing else when there, climb Lantern Hill to the little Chapel of St Nicholas which overlooks the harbour and has burned a guiding light for sailors since it was built nearly 700 years ago. And if you do want to do something else climb Capstone Hill which my memory says was built by prisoners on their way to Australia but I might be wrong. As I've said, this is my memories so I don't look things up on google. At the top of Capstone Hill you can see across the Bristol Channel to the nature reserve of Lundy Island. Come down the hill and you used to be able to take a trip across to the island from Ilfracombe harbour.

    The coast then turns south past sandy, surfing beaches at Woolacombe, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands. There's no bridge over the river Taw so you need to head some 10 miles inland to Barnstaple, rejoin the shingle coast at Appledore and keep going south and then turn west. Here you find Clovelly which, between my first and second trip I think, changed from a cute little village to a tourist attraction. In other words a visit nowadays costs money. The village is really just one street, called Up-a-long or Down-along, depending on which way you are going. No cars, mentioned in the Doomsday Book and, at one time, the only transport was donkeys pulling sledges, Clovelly is still well worth a visit and there are some beautiful drives around there. Eventually you reach the stark cliffs of Hartland Point and Hartland Quay, with the harbour financed by Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake. Some of the rock structure there is truly awesome. A few miles further south and you leave Devon and enter Cornwall.

    However, should you follow the Cornish coast all the way around Land's End and back eastwards, you would, after some 700 kms (422 miles), find yourself back in Devon again, this time on its south coast. Different again, I remember the numerous little inlets at Salcombe leading up to Kingsbridge.

    Then there is the beach at Slapton Sands where the US Army practised for the D-Day landings in Normandy. In 1943 3,000 villagers in little hamlets around the beach were told to leave their homes. They had six weeks to go. They had to find somewhere to stay, no accommodation was provided for them. The reason was to be able to provide accommodation for thousands of US soldiers shortly to be landed in Normandy and to keep the plans as secret as possible. Slapton beach was chosen to practice the landings as it was similar to the beaches in Normandy. However, on 27th April 1944, during a training exercise using live fire, over 400 men were killed by their compartriots because of a timing error. Then, the following day, some German E-boats, passing through Lyme Bay, came across the training exercise and the pretend invasion fleet, opened fire and killed 749 men. There is a tank on the beach as a memorial.

    Up the coast is Dartmouth and then the so-called English Riviera comprising of the holiday resorts of Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. To be honest I only remember Brixham which had a replica of Sir Francis Drake's round the world ship the Golden Hind in the harbour. What I do remember, though, is the red sandstone cliffs at Babbacombe Bay further along that stretch of coast. I hadn't seen cliffs of that colour before. Further along you go up the west side of the River Ex, reach Exeter, turn 180 degrees and go down the east side till you get to Exmouth and then east until you get to Dorset. Some resorts here and Sidmouth is where Queen Victoria lived in her childhood days with her parents.



    Once you've seen all that, you have so much to explore inland. Off you go.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The razorbill is a medium-sized seabird. They can be seen during the breeding season around the rocky cliffs on England's coast. The breeding season runs from March until the end of July. The are no razorbills that can be found between the Humber estuary on the east coast, clockwise around to the Isle of Wight on the south coast. Razorbills will eat sandeels, sprats and herrings. There are 130,000 breeding pairs around the UK.

    Their feathers are black on their backs and white on their fronts. They have black legs and a black, medium length beak which is powerful and chunky.

    Razorbills are about 38cms in length, have a wingspan of 63 to 67 cms and weigh between 590 and 730 grams.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Devon check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020