historic port and market town of Bideford has changed very little from
the time when Charles Kingsley lived in the area nearly 150 years ago.
The Victorian novelist described Bideford as “The little white town
which slopes upward from its broad river tide”.
Kingsley’s statue, located adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre,
serves as a
permanent reminder of this famous resident and the time he spent here
writing part of his well-known novel “Westward Ho!”
Today Bideford is a thriving market town and working port with much to
offer visitors to the region. Amongst the many buildings
Historical architecture abounds throughout the town from public
buildings such as the Town Hall and Library, former merchants’ houses,
churches, hostelries and inns to museums and, at East-the-Water,
Chudleigh Fort housing memorabilia from the Civil War.
The historic covered Pannier Market dating from 1883, which holds a
market every Tuesday and Saturday. The local market term “pannier”
refers to past times when all market produce was carried in baskets
known as panniers.
Alongside the history you will find modern shopping amenities, a wide
choice, of bars and restaurants, entertainment and a tremendous range of
The port of Bideford came to prominence in the Middle Ages. Evidence of
Bideford is found in the l200s when there is a record of the building of
St Maria Church and shipping activity alongside the Quay,
Sir Walter Raleigh is believed to have landed his first cargo of tobacco
in Bide ford after which the port went on to become an important tobacco
importer and wool exporter.
Bideford’s medieval long bridge crosses the River Torridge and is famous
for the varying sizes of its 24 arches. There are many theories in
existence explaining this peculiarity A model of the bridge and details
of its history are on display at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum in
the town. The new river bridge was completed and opened in 1987.
A Town Architectural Trail takes you on a guided walking tour of some of
the buildings and monuments of particular interest.
The maritime connection. with Bideford is represented by the recently
restored Kathleen and May (01237 476375), a historic three-masted
schooner at Brunswick Wharf at East-the-Water. Guided tours are
Bideford is still a working port and home to the MS Oldenburg, a supply
vessel regularly carrying provisions and passengers to Lundy Island
(01237 470074). This fascinating Island, situated 12 miles off the
coastline, has rugged and ever changing scenery with a fantastic array
of flora and fauna and attracts many visitors throughout the spring and
Bideford’s Victoria Park is a constant blaze of colour throughout the
summer and appeals to people of all ages, including families, with its
open-air pool and play facilities which include a fort complete with
cannons reputedly captured from the Spanish Armada by Bideford men.
Situated within Victoria Park is the renowned Burton Art Gallery (01237
471455) which provides a permanent home to a collection of paintings,
porcelain, pewter, historic artefacts and displays as well as hosting
regular touring exhibitions and workshops throughout the year.
The town centre offers a good range of modem and traditional shops,
eating places and hostelries along with the new out of town discount
shopping outlet, Atlantic Village (01237 422544).
As well as offering an undercover shopping area with 34 outlets, there
is also a food court, piazza and visitor attractions catering for all
Out and About
Bideford is an excellent base for many outdoor pursuits such as golf,
watersports, walking (along the South West Coast Path), and cycling
(along the Tarka Trail).
The Big Sheep - fun for all the family with a huge indoor play area,
animal shows, mountain boarding centre, brewery and internet café.
The Milky Way Adventure. Park - a whole day of family fun and
adventures’ at North Devon’s largest all weather adventure park. Tel:
The town most visited by Americans is undoubtedly Bid-e-ford. Besides the sentimental interest experienced when walking the old streets, Bideford is a
pleasant, busy little place and its surroundings are extremely beautiful.
Bideford is an ancient port on the River Torridge it's
quayside is also the main street. It was from Bideford that Sir Richard Grenville, Frobisher, Hawkins, Drake, and Raleigh sailed at various times when Bideford was
Britain's third largest Port.
- Quay and Bridge. and the ford it replaced, have seen the development of transport from dug outs through the brave little ships that harried the Armada to modern steamers and lovely yachts—from pack animals to streamlined cars. But Bideford does not live on its memories— market, bridge and river are still busy. Indeed, the bridge, which one almost feels is a sentient being with its long history and manifold possessions, must be faintly surprised at traffic lights and the constant roll of wheels. The river, too, in which almost free anchorage was granted as a reward for the provision of Armada boats, has generally plenty of shipping lying in its hospitable
Bideford’s lovely position on the Torridge is one of its chief glories. It apparently owes its name to the fact that it is “by-the-ford,” on what in Roman times was a very important highway along the coast from Cornwall through Devon into Somerset. During excavations on the eastern side of Bideford, a paved footway, 12 feet in width, presumed to be part of the old Roman
fosseway, was discovered.
- Local towns and villages to visit..
- Great Torrington
Sale in Bideford