Devon farmers who made their home in the same remote location for 1,200 years had a taste for exotic imported food and drink, archaeologists have found.
22. Mayflower steps : Plymouth was the setting-off point for those suffering at the hands of intolerance, and the quay by the Barbican was the departure points of the Pilgrim Fathers, who set sail on the Mayflower for the New World – apparently it landed near Provincetown (where they founded a vibrant LGBT community and super film festival – no, really, they went on to Plymouth, Massachusetts, which also has film festival…). Next to the plaque commemorating the journey of the Pilgrim Fathers is one doing the same for the Tolpuddle Martryrs, where four the six who had been transported for creating a proto trades union in 1834 disembarked on their return to England in 1836. Read more of the plaques around the Mayflower steps on this Mayflower steps site (although curiously it doesn’t mention the Tolpuddle Martyrs).
23. The past was Orange: there’s a strong Protestant ethic running through Devon – even to this day – which would explain why the invited invasion of Dutchman William of Orange met with no resistance. He landed at Brixham (where there’s still a statue of him), and he was proclaimed king at Newton Abbot. Later he and his wife Mary Stuart, were crowned in Westminster Abbey.
24. Take Art: There are more people involved in the creative industries in the South West than any other region of the UK, so it’s not surprising that there’s such a vibrant arts scene in Devon. Exeter is home to top-class gallery the Spacex, while cultural hub the Exeter Phoenix has gallery space throughout its first floor. In Plymouth, Plymouth Arts Centre holds varied exhibition, and Plymouth University has a number of venues. Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has an excellent collection, especially of St Ives artists. And the Viewpoint gallery at Plymouth College of Art often displays fresh and exciting art. There are also art trails, where artists often open up there home and studios to the public – the biggest is the Devon Open Studios event, which takes place in September. And as a bit of a creative coup, the British Art Show is in Plymouth from September to December 2011.
25. Rivers run: Home to Tarka the Otter, the River Torridge, or border between Devon and Cornwall the River Tamar or powerhouse to Exeter’s growth, the River Exe, rivers have play an important part of the Devon psyche – the Exe even getting its name from the Celtic word Isca for water. There are plenty of opportunities to take river trips – Dartmouth is a particular favourite for long river cruises.
26. Roman Devon: The main Roman influence in Devon was focused on Exeter, which took the Roman name Isca Dumnoniorum, although there were forts dotted around the city’s environs. Exeter was south west end of the Fosse Way – a road that crossed the country, finishing at Lincoln. Part of Exeter’s Roman wall can be seen today, and much of it can be seen on foot. There have even been findings of a Roman baths near the city’s cathedral.
27. Devon piers: Piers belong to a bygone age, but remain icons of seaside entertainment. Paignton Pier – an iron construction, which was built in 1879 because Teignmouth Pier couldn’t be moved has gone through changing fortunes, but is now undergoing something of a revival as the buzz and hum of arcade machines hold a fascination. The frontage of Teignmouth Pier has the familarity that has made it popular with local filmmakers and photographers. Although at first glance it doesn’t look like a traditional pier, the walkway at Torquay harbour is also a pier.
28. Hannah’s at Seale-Hayne manages to be both calming and stimulating at the same time. The former agricultural college was acquired by the Dame Hannah Roger’s Trust, which aims to support its adult guests, who have physical and/or learning disabilities, to be a major part of the team that runs this space, and provide a community-focused venue that’s home to an art gallery, artist studios, music and theatre venues, a sports centre, shop, cafe along with music, recording, performance, the arts, outdoor activities such as archery, laser quest & mountain biking. Friendly and inviting, it’s just outside Newton Abbot, and well worth a visit for the wonderful atmosphere… and cake.