Clovelly Villageis situated in the Torridge district of Devon and is a major tourist attraction, famous for its history and its beauty. Its steep, cobbled streets are car-free. Donkeys used to be the main form of transport for centuries, but they are now mainly used to give children rides around their meadow during the summer or can be seen posing for photographs in the street. Man-powered sledges transport all goods to the village, from groceries to furniture. It has a beautiful setting overlooking the Bristol channel and thick woods shelter it from the elements rendering its climate so mild that even the tenderest of plants thrive here. The village has two hotels with public houses, The New Inn in the heart of the village and The Red Lion Hotel on the quay. There is a Land Rover service in operation from Easter to October to transport those who do not want to walk back up the steep village street, for which there is a small charge.
The visitor centre has been operational since 1988, before which there was no daytime “entrance fee” but still a car park fee. The fee covers all-day car parking, entry to two museums in the village – the Kingsley Museum and the Fisherman’s Cottage – and a 15-minute film show of the village story and also covers entry to Clovelly Court Gardens. Revenues raised from the entrance fee are used to fund the constant maintenance of the village cottages. Caring for the village is an expensive job, as the buildings under their listed status must be repaired using traditional materials and craftsmanship. Due to the severely restricted vehicle access, works are often much more expensive.
Clovelly used to be a fishing village and in 1901 had a population of 621. It is a cluster of largely wattle and daubcottages on the sides of a rocky cleft; its steep main street descends 400 feet (120 m) to the pier, too steeply to allow wheeled traffic. Sledges are used for the movement of goods. The quaint street is lined with houses, a small number of shops, a cafe and two public house. All Saints’ Church, restored in 1866, is late Norman, containing several monuments to the Cary family, Lords of the Manor for 600 years.
The scenery has been captured by artists for its richness of colour, especially in the separately accessed and separated Clovelly Court and along The Hobby, a road cut through the woods and overlooking the sea. The South West Coast Path National Trail runs from the top of the village and the section from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular. Clovelly Court Gardens is open to the public and entry is included in the admission charge, but not Clovelly Court.
Each of the buildings along the terraced cobbled street is architecturally listed: more than 50 of these 71 are on the main street itself.
The novelist Charles Kingsley lived here as a child from 1831 to 1836. Clovelly is also described by Charles Dickens in A Message from the Sea and was painted by Rex Whistler, whose cameos of the village were used on a china service by Wedgwood. J.M.W. Turner‘s painting of Clovelly harbour hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
Clovelly Village, North Devon: Official Website
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