An attractive and historical town resting alongside the River Torridge, it might be Bideford’s ancient bridge, dating from around 1300 A.D., that stands out as the finest architectural structure in the town, but there is plenty more to see besides. Decreed as a market town in 1272, the market here still thrives, and the history of the town leaves visitors with plenty of interest to discover.
In centuries gone by, Bideford actually had one of the country’s busiest ports, with many commodities passing through the dock, including tobacco from North America, all of which contributed to the prosperity of the town. There is still plenty of evidence of this wealth to be appreciated, in the likes of the opulent merchants’ houses that have survived, including at the Royal Hotel where the 17th Century ceilings are of particular note, and where Charles Kingsley wrote his famous novel, Westwood Ho! To gather comprehensive information about the town’s industry and history, a visit to The Burton at Bideford is a must, with its museum, gallery, café and tourist information centre.
In the vicinity of Bideford there is a great deal of interest, making the town an ideal base from which to explore this part of Devon. The likes of Appledore, Northam and Westwood Ho! (note that this is the only place in England with an exclamation mark after its name!) are all worthy of a visit, and just a bit further beyond are all kinds of opportunities for days out, no matter what one’s interests.