East Devon: 1. Colyton And Seaton

The Dolphin's BrainStarred Page By The Dolphin's Brain, 31st Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3uuhmpuf/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>England>Devon & Cornwall

Hidden gems can be found all over Britain. This article highlights part of east Devon - Colyton, Seaton and the Axe valley in between - that is deserving of greater attention.

Peace And Tranquility

Nestled in a relatively tranquil part of east Devon lies the town of Colyton. Most people will fly past on the way to the ‘Jurassic Coast’ in general, and Lyme Regis in particular, but spare a day to take in this historic town and what it has to offer. Stay at one of the local B&Bs and use it as a base to visit Seaton, Lyme Regis or Beer.

Colyton

History abounds in Colyton; as you approach the town you may well see signs describing it as a ‘rebel town’ as it seeks to promote itself as ‘the most rebellious town in Devon’. Of course, this does not refer to its demeanour in the 21st Century but rather relates to that turbulent time in British history when the religious divide between Catholic and Protestant was a truly open sore on the mainland. A full history lesson from that period would cover many hours, if not days, but Colyton’s place can be summarised briefly.

Those of you who have a passing interest in history will be familiar with the fact that James II, a Catholic, was crowned king in 1685. At the time, the country was predominantly Protestant, mainly as a result of the spat between Rome and Henry VIII and its consequences. The 17th Century had seen Cromwell and his New Model Army, the plague and the great fire of London, all within the space of approximately three decades. (Cromwell, incidentally, was MP for Huntingdon for a while, something shared by another of this country’s leaders, John Major. I’ll leave others to make any comparisons!) The installing of a Catholic monarch, inevitably, led to upheaval and, in particular in the context of Colyton, the Monmouth Rebellion.

The Duke of Monmouth, Protestant cousin of the king and exiled in Holland, sought to gather an army to pursue a rebellion against the Catholic James, landing at Lyme Regis and collecting ‘rebels’ along the way from Colyton. Sadly, for the men of the town at least, the rebellion more or less died a death at the battle of Sedgemoor.

There is a parish historical society that has more details on its web site, including information on historical tours. Access it here.

St. Andrew's Church

If architecture is more your thing, then St Andrew’s Church will repay a visit. As is typical of religious buildings across the country, a mix of styles can be found here, from a 12th century Norman tower to a magnificent stained-glass replacement ‘West Window’ dating from about 700 years later. The main building sits somewhere in the middle of this, chronologically speaking, being predominantly 15th – 16th century.

A word of warning, however; campanologists are active in the area! The octagonal lantern tower in the church houses 8 bells and if you decide to stay in the town, only choose a Saturday night if you want to arise (early) on the Sunday to a musical accompaniment to your breakfast.

* Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons attributed to user Roger Cornfoot

Seaton

Seaton describes itself as ‘The Gateway to the Jurassic Coast’, a World Heritage site. It has a mainly pedestrianized town centre, a pebbly beach, a long flat esplanade and a variety of traditional shops. It even has, surprisingly, perhaps, a lovely vegetarian café that serves excellent food.

If local colour and traditions are your thing, Seaton has an annual carnival and Colyford, a few miles back inland, has a Michaelmas Goose Fair.

Whilst Seaton has its own charm, it is also an ideal place from which to explore the local area. The coastal path runs in each direction – towards Beer to the west and Lyme Regis to the east – and the Axe estuary is a wildlife haven.

Lyme Regis, just a short journey along the coast, is the centre for the amateur fossil-hunting hammer-wielding brigade; frequented by young and old alike, the whole coastline is an amazing geological experience giving insight into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Seaton is one place where examples of all three can be seen.

Seaton Tramway

If the temptations of geology, religious buildings and internecine warfare are not to your tastes then natural history and old-fashioned transport combine to offer alternatives. Colyton sits on the river Coly and close to the Axe. Seaton Tramway, connecting Colyton and Seaton, allows the traveller to experience an old-fashioned narrow-gauge tram ride down the Axe valley.

The Tramway has a multitude of different vehicles, including open-tops for when the weather is sunny; these give a great view of the valley and the marshland that provides a habitat for many species of bird life. There is a café and shop at the Colyton end of the line, based in the quaint former railway station.

Birding

One of the main attractions of the Tramway, and the area in general, is the preponderance of wildlife. The tram is an ideal means of access to the area’s wetlands, home to a large number of bird species including kingfishers, herons and little egrets. The marshy flats are also accessible on foot and provide an ideal way to while away the time, flask of tea and sandwiches to hand, whilst inhabiting a purpose-built hide to facilitate your bird-watching experience.

* Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons attributed to user Glen Fergus

Relax

I heartily recommend a few days exploring this beautiful part of the country. Step away from the pressures of daily life, leave the mobile at home, or at least pack it away in the suitcase for the time you are in the area, and just …. relax.

All text and images © The Dolphin’s Brain 2013 except where indicated otherwise

Tags

Battle Of Sedgemoor, Beer, Colyford, Colyton, Devon, Great Fire Of London, James Ii, Jurassic Coast, Little Egret, Lyme Regis, Monmouth Rebellion, New Model Army, Old Bakehouse, Oliver Cromwell, Plague, Rebel Town, River Axe, River Coly, Seaton, Seaton Esplanade, Seaton Tramway, St Andrews Church, Vegetarian

Meet the author

author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
I am a mixed bag of lawyer, vegan, environmentalist and sports nut and my writing is likely to be passionate, of-the-moment articles on a wide variety of topics. I also write the occasional poem!

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Comments

author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Nov 2013 (#)

such a wonderfully descriptive piece this and great pictures...many thanks...

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Nov 2013 (#)

Nice post!

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author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
5th Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks Fern!

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author avatar Retired
19th Nov 2013 (#)

I love Devon. My ancestors lived there so I have links. I am still working on whether any came from Colyton.

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