Did you know that Devon is named after the ancient Celtic tribe, the Dumnonii, meaning “deep valley dwellers” who lived in the area up to and beyond Roman times. Devon’s boundary with Cornwall was set at the River Tamar by King Aethelstan in 936 A.D. becoming a shire soon after. Devon is the only English county to have a separate north and south coastline, a total stretch of 400 kilometres (250 miles). Dartmoor, at 954 square kilometres (368 square miles) is the largest open space in southern England and covers 14% of Devon's land mass. The landscape is made up of 16,000 hectares of ancient woodland, 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 5 designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 113,134 hectares of protected coastal areas and the UNESCO English Riviera Geopark is one of only 50 Global Geoparks in the world. Devon is Britain’s fourth largest county at 6,707 square kilometres (2,590 square miles) and it has the 11th largest population. It is also home to more thatched cottages than any other county in Great Britain.
Many towns and villages have names dating back over 1,000 years, originally in old English. Look out for leigh from “leah” meaning open pasture or meadow; “brad” meaning big or broad; combe from “culm” or valley; “ham” meaning village or manor; “stow” meaning holy place; ton from “tun” meaning farmstead or estate and week from “wic” meaning farm, usually dairy. There are many, many more examples.
Devon is famed for it’s food and drink, especially it’s clotted cream, full cream ice cream and of course rich rice pudding (dating from Tudor times). Make sure you try fish and other seafood straight from the sea, very often delivered daily to your local restaurant. Succulent beef and lamb from cattle and sheep free-grazing on Dartmoor and Exmoor. Try Cyder or Scrumpy, Devon’s traditional apple drink and Lovage, an alcoholic cordial, really smooth with brandy. Devon has some 24 official breweries and over 1,300 pubs so we should be able to cater to any needs. Blackfriars Distillery on Plymouth's Barbican makes a rather special gin. For something completely different, try hogs pudding, a spiced pork sausage - delicious hot with eggs and bacon or cold with pickle and a roll. It tastes a lot better than it sounds!!
Devon has an incredible number of wicked characters and strange tales associated with it including the notorious pirate Henry Every; the last witches to be sentenced to death in Britain – Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards were hanged in August 1682, accused of heresy, witchcraft and conversing with the devil. Less earthly characters include the hairy hands of Dartmoor, the Hounds of the Baskervilles, the blue lady of Berry Pomeroy and dozens of other ghostly sights and sounds.
Look out for the excellent range of books available on these subjects and many others including The Little Book of Devon written by Emma Mansfield, which has helped us compile this information for you to enjoy. If you would like to order a copy, click here