"An overnight stop...." Tiverton by leics
Tiverton Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 40 photos
It's a long drive to Cornwall from where I live, so I decided to break my journey overnight and stop in Tiverton. I'd never visited before.
The first thing I realised was that New Year's Day is an excellent time for driving! I barely saw any traffic and could easily have driven all the way to Penzance in one go. But I'd already booked a hotel and, in the end, I was pleased I'd taken time to explore this very pleasant little town. Even though it was pretty much shut, because although New Year's Day fell on a Sunday this year, English January Sundays are not usually hotbeds of activity.
It's an old town, Tiverton. Its name is thought to come from ''twy-ford-town' (two-ford town). There's been a settlement here since prehistoric times, with a hill fort nearby and many local finds of flint tools, as well as evidence of Iron Age, Roman and Saxon inhabitants.
It must have been important by the time of the Norman conquest (1066) because Henry 1 built a motte-and-bailey castle in Tiverton. It was much changed during subsequent centuries, of course, but still exists (albeit heavily scaffolded in parts). The castle wasn't open when I visited, but it's somewhere I think I would like to explore one day.
The wool trade of the 16th and 17th centuries brought much wealth to Tiverton, as it did to many small English market towns. Two fires around 1600 destroyed much of the town centre, but a few Medieval buildings escaped (see tips) . There was another fire in 1731 (the good citizens of Tiverton do seem to have been a little careless!) which allowed further remodelling of the town centre.
Arriving early meant I had several hours to explore before the light went, which was good...there was much more history and architecture to see than I had expected.
I hadn't expected the castle to be open, and it wasn't. But the magnificent Medieval church of St Peter was unlocked (sadly, many English churches are now locked when not in use, because of theft and vandalism).
It's a magnificent church with a truly spectacular array of embroidered hassocks, all of which are left out to display their glory in full view of the visitor (rather than being tucked away under pews). The first stone church on this site was built in 1073, although little of this original church remains in the present building. The Greenway chapel dates from the early 1500s and has a lovely ceiling...but it was the hassocks which really caught my eye!
From the castle and St Peter's I wandered down to the riverside, architecture-spotting as I went, and then explored further throughout the older part of the town.
It was windy and chilly, and a bit damp, and the light was soon going. So I didn't really spend as much time exploring as I might otherwise have done. I just retreated to my comfy, quiet, arm hotel and took advantage of their free wifi and bar food before having an early night.
If you are exploring this part of Devon, or looking for somewhere to overnight on your way further south (or on the way back) then do consider Tiverton. It seemed to me a very pleasant little town, well worth at least a couple of hours' wandering.
- Pros:Very pleasant little market town
- Cons:None that I came across
- In a nutshell:Typical small English market town
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