10 secrets about Bideford you might not know

How many of Bideford's secrets do you know?

How many of Bideford's secrets do you know? - Credit: Archant

New book reveals facts about Bideford from secret graves to the first ever use of a telephone. How many do you know already?

You may think you know Bideford pretty well - but a new book has uncovered some of the town’s secrets.

Secret Bideford is one of the latest editions in the ‘Secret’ local series from Amberley Publishing, which follows on from the ‘Through time’ collection of 2013.

Author Peter Christie, two-times mayor of Bideford and humanities lecturer at Petroc College, said: “The book allowed me to bring together lots of very odd stories that I’d been aware of for a long time but had never got round to writing up.”

Here are 10 facts you might not know about Bideford...

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Town spellings

Previous spellings of Bideford include ‘Bedeford’ ‘Budiford’ and ‘Bydiford’ with the Victorians deciding on ‘Bideford’ derived from ‘By-the-ford’

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Parish church

The parish church of St Mary’s only dates back to around 150 years ago.

Raleigh’s grave

The first Native American to be buried in Britain is buried in St Mary’s Church. ‘Raleigh’ was brought over by Sir Richard Grenville in 1586 on his return from Roanoke in North America. He was baptised but sadly only lived a short time.

Kingsley representations

There are actually two representations of Charles Kingsley in Bideford; the statue near Victoria Park and another representation as a bas relief over the doors of the Holiday Cottages’ office.

Ladies’ school

In 1896 the four stone houses at the end of Lime Grove was once an established school for young ladies until its move in 1902 to Belvoir Hill.

Bideford police

The police force in Bideford dates back to 1836 when the newly democratised borough council hired its first professional policeman.

Pannier market

Until the late seventeenth century the pannier market was situated at the bottom of the high street and when it moved to its present site it had to be closed due to flooding and a variety of sites had to be used to replace it as it was rebuilt.

The first telephone

The first experience of a telephone in Bideford was in 1878 when Mr Viccars of Torquay gave a lecture on his new invention in the music hall in Bridgeland Street.

Bideford cinema

The history of cinema in Bideford goes back to at least 1902 when an enterprising showman presented films of the coronation of Edward VII at Bideford Fair.

Maritime history

Some signifiers of Bideford’s maritime history are two inscribed slate plaques let into the quay pavement outside of Mr Chips and the HSBC which indicate where the old constricted quay used to be.

Find out more...

To discover more of the town’s secrets, you can purchase Secret Bideford in local bookshops and Kindle and iBook formats for £14.99.

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