Colyton & Colyford
10:41 15 April 2010
Known locally as ‘the small town with a big heart and a warm welcome’, Colyton is situated amid beautiful countryside where the Axe and Coly valleys meet.
The town itself is full of history, and its centre is a conservation area, full of narrow street often referred to as a maze, and a joy to browse around. The surrounding countryside is perfect for either walking or cycling, and there are lots of ideal picnic spots giving beautiful views.
Colyton is linked to nearby Seaton by a unique and famous tramway, the perfect way to enjoy the scenery, and from the Tram Stop restaurant at the Colyton terminus you can enjoy a relaxing ride aboard a superb horse-drawn wagon, taking you into the town centre where you can relax at your leisure and return when you wish.
Colyton features a wide range of shops and businesses that beg to be explored. You are sure to find that special souvenir and you will always get a truly friendly welcome. There is the last tannery in the country to use the traditional oak bark method of tanning hides with a leather shop and garden shop alongside in the market place.
The striking Church of St Andrew is well worth a visit, notable for its 15th century octagonal lantern tower, and a superb Saxon cross. Also of note are the unusual statues of John and Elizabeth Pole, a prominent local family, each resting on an elbow but lying back to back.
Colyton always has an excellent choice of social events, many of them centred at the Town Hall. There are flower shows and craft fairs, plus performances by the Colyton Theatre Group. Dont miss this year's fabulous carnival week, starting on September 3 with the crowning of Royal Family and climaxing with the grand procession on September 10. There is a fun-packed week of events for all the family, celebrating the granting of a fair to be held seven days yearly by King John in 1208.
Colyton originated as a Saxon settlement indeed, the Saxon parliament was held there in 827 AD.
The town was bestowed on the first Lord of the Manor by William the Conqueror, and changed hands several times until 1546 when the then-Lord Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, had a disagreement with King Henry VIII the King was obviously most displeased as Henry Courtenay was executed, and his lands confiscated. Their return was later achieved by a group of local merchants and yeomen for the princely sum of 1,000.
When the Duke of Monmouth landed in Lyme Regis in 1685 it is said that no town in Devon provided more volunteers to fight for their religious freedom suppressed by the Catholic King James II than Colyton. After the Duke's army was routed at Sedgemore, the infamous Judge Jeffreys sentenced many to be hanged at his Bloody Assizes. There is now a new history and visitor centre situated in the car park and run by volunteers from the local history society.
Colyford is Colytons pretty sister village with a long main street featuring ancient thatched cottages and character houses.
There are spectacular views as you drive down the road towards Seaton, and Colyford is the ideal place from which to explore the beautiful Axe Valley. It is a popular area for birdwatchers, and the network of footpaths traverse some lovely secluded countryside. Colyford now has a newly opened nature reserve which is well worth a visit. Colyford is also a stopping place on the scenic Seaton to Colyton tramway. The interesting St Michaels Church will reward you with a view of a high relief modelled on Bartollemeos famous masterpiece The Entombment.
One of the highlights of Colyfords social calendar is the annual Goose Fair, which dates back to medieval times, and is held this year on September 24. Great fun for all the family, it starts with a colourful procession to the main events area, which features sideshows and stalls and lots of medieval activities. The highlight of the day is the traditional Mummers Play, and the whole event is really colourful with lots of people in costumes of the time, so dont forget your camera.