SOUTH EAST DEVON
map ref SY1287
Sidmouth is a beautiful and unique regency town
located on the edge of Lyme Bay.
Sidmouth has avoided the temptation for developement
at any cost - instead, this charming town has chasen to preserve its
old world charm and character - avoiding the clutter of modern stalls
and kiosks that blight the promenades and seafronts of so many of our
traditional seaside towns.
Sidmouth hosts an annual Folk Festival during the
summer, with the town transforming into a festival of colour and sound.
The promenade becomes a metropolis for Morris dancers, musicians, fire
eaters and lyre players and of course the festival goers themselves.
Sidmouth appears in the Doomsday book as, Sedemuda.
The town lies in a beautiful valley, protected from the elements by
the sandstone cliffs. The town used to have a harbour, where the River
Sid now runs across the beach. During the fifteenth century the town
was subject to a particularly long spell of violent stormy weather,
which caused land slips along the cliff edge, blocking the harbour permanently.
Connaught Gardens - Sidmouth
There was a plan to re-establish the harbour in the
1810's. To execute the plan, stone would have to have been transported
to Sidmouth in large quantities. The most cost effective option was
to build a railroad through the cliff face.
The remains of the railroad and rock tunnel can easily
be seen today. The venture itself was abandoned - the daunting task
of creating a railway by excavating through such difficult terrain had
been achieved, but the more basic requirement to ensure that the narrow
tunnel was wide enough for the engines to fit through - was not. The
catastrophe led to the abandonment of the railway and consequently the
plans to revitalise the harbour.
Architecturally, Sidmouth is a true gem, with a fascinating
history. The town has many fine examples from the Regency Period - with
elegant wrought iron balconies and white painted facades - buildings
enhanced by the town's stunningly beautiful gardens and floral displays.
Sidmouth has some 500 buildings which are now officially
'listed' - in a range of styles from differing eras. Some of the most
splendid buildings in Sidmouth date back to the 18th century, but there
are many examples of smaller cottages - built to house the servants,
many retaining their original structures of thatched roofing, stone
foundations and cob walling.