10 secrets about Barnstaple you might not know


Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

How much do you know about Barnstaple’s history? Find out 10 of its secrets here...

Secret Barnstaple is latest editions in the ‘Secret’ local series which follows on from the ‘Through time’ collection of 2013.

Denise Holton, ex-manager of Barnstaple Heritage centre, and local historian and volunteer at the Heritage centre, Elizabeth Hammett, partnered up to go behind the façade of the familiar to deliver the untold secrets of the town.

Test your knowledge with these 10 facts about Barnstaple…

Bridge Trust representations

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Hidden in plain sight on the bridge is a representation of the Bridge Trust seal. It shows six arches of a bridge, and a chapel that refers to that of St Thomas.

The Long Bridge

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In 1556 a licence was obtained from the Bishop of Exeter to employ collectors to solicit donations not only for the maintenance of the long bridge but also the causeways, which ran for a quarter of a mile from each end of the bridge.

Barnstaple Population

The population of Barnstaple at the time The Castle, on what is now Castle Mound, was built may have been no more than 350.

Post boy attack

In June 1743 the Post Office offered a reward of £200 to any person who caused to be convicted the thief who knocked the post boy down with the Barnstaple mail off his horse and ‘carried both horse and mail and several letters for Exeter, London. Bristol and other places’

Barnstaple Town Station

Built in the 1890s when the Barnstaple-Lynton line opened, the original quay station on the site where the old bus station building is, was too small to take an extra line so was moved to Castle Street and renamed Barnstaple Town station.

Tuly Street

Various spellings of Tuly Street have been recorded in the past including; ‘Tulys’, Tuly and ‘Tooley’ which all reference St Tooley’s well, believed to be the street’s name origin.

St Peter’s stain glass window

In 1872 Queen Victoria paid for all parishes in the country to install commemorative windows in fear of her eldest son, Edward VII , would die from typhoid - the same as his father. One of these stain glass windows in St Peter’s Church and still remains there.

Port Royal pottery

In 1665 the Jeremiah of Barnstaple took 20 dozen earthenware direct to Jamaica for John Christmas, North Devon pottery was reaching there before that date by one route or another, as fragments have been found by archaeologists investigating the site when investigating Port Royal.

Albert Clock Tower

The infamous Albert Clock Tower in The Square as built in 1862 by public subscription as the town’s memorial to Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria.

Barnstaple Post

In 1803 Barnstaple had just one postman who had to deliver the post to the whole town, however by 1902 there was thirteen postmen who delivered to the area. You could only be a postman in the area that you lived in.

Secret Barnstaple is available in local bookshops and Kindle and iBook formats for £14.99.

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