Coordinates: 50°59′N 4°24′W / 50.99°N 4.4°W / 50.99; -04.40

Clovelly is located in Devon

 Clovelly shown within Devon
Population 1,616 
OS grid reference SS315245
District Torridge
Shire county Devon
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BIDEFORD
Postcode district EX39
Dialling code 01237
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Torridge and West Devon
List of places: UK • England • Devon

Clovelly is a village in the Torridge district of Devon, England. It is a major tourist attraction, famous for its history and beauty, its extremely steep car-free cobbled main street, donkeys, and its location looking out over the Bristol Channel. Thick woods shelter it and render the climate so mild that even tender plants flourish. As of the 2001 Census, the ward of Clovelly Bay, including Clovelly, had a total population of 1,616.[1]



The village itself is not accessible by motor vehicle and space at the harbour is limited to hotel residents and locals with permits. Visitors park at the Visitor Centre car park above the village, at the end of the B3237 road; service buses make calls at the car park also. The visitor centre consists of a cafe, gift, book and fudge shops. There are a number of tourist-oriented shop units at the car park. Visitors enter the village through the visitor centre. A taxi service operates in summer using Land Rover vehicles, between the car park and the harbour. There is a public road down to the harbour (followed by the Land Rover taxi), although parking at the bottom is all private, and there is a sign warning visitors against going down that road. Clovelly Visitor Centre car park is served by Stagecoach Bus service 319 between Barnstaple, Bideford and Hartland.

The estate is run by the Clovelly Estate Company, under the leadership of The Hon.John Rous, a descent of the Hamlyn family who have owned the village, estate and manor house Clovelly court since 1738. He is the son of Hon. Mary Rous and Keith Rous, the 5th Earl of Stradbroke.

Entrance fee & controversy

The visitor centre has been operational since 1988, before which there was no entrance fee to access the village, instead a car park fee. As of summer 2010, the entrance fee is £5.95 for adults and £3.75 for children. The fee covers all-day car parking, entry to two museums in the village - the Kingsley Museum and the Fisherman's Cottage - and a 15-minute film show telling the story of Clovelly, as well as use of the toilet facilities in the visitor centre and down the cobbled street.

Visitors are told that revenues raised from the entrance fee are used to fund the constant maintenance of the village cottages (caring for the village is a costly business because the buildings are all repaired using traditional materials and craftmanship, and due to the severely restricted vehicle access, builders often quote up to double the standard price for repairs when Clovelly is mentioned). However, there are discrepancies to these claims, and indeed to the justification of charging a fee to walk down the village street. Critics of the post-1988 management claim that the Clovelly Estate Company has no legal basis in imposing a charge for visitors simply wishing to walk down the street (and not to visit or make use of other facilities such as the museum or film show), because the street is owned and maintained by Torridge District Council. There is also a public road leading down to the harbour and ending before the cark park. The area beyond this road, including the harbour car park, is private property.

The visitor centre opens at 09:00 every day in the peak summer season. If visitors arrive before this time, or after 6:30pm, it is possible to visit the village free of charge via a gate outside the visitor centre which is unlocked during non-business hours. If visitors arrive between 5:30 and 6:30pm, they may visit the village free of charge but are liable to pay a £4 parking fee.

The village

View looking down part of the 400 foot (120 metre) descent from the main street car park to Clovelly harbour.

Clovelly used to be a fishing village and in 1901 had a population of 621. It is a cluster of wattle and daub cottages on the sides of a rocky cleft; its steep main street descends 400 feet (120 m) to the pier, too steeply to allow wheeled traffic. Sledges are used for the movement of goods. The quaint street is lined with houses, a small number of shops, a cafe and a public house. All Saints' Church, restored in 1866, is late Norman, containing several monuments to the Cary family, Lords of the Manor for 600 years.

Unusually, the village is still privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the middle of the 13th century, nearly 800 years.. The scenery is famous for its richness of colour, especially in the grounds of Clovelly Court and along The Hobby, a road cut through the woods and overlooking the sea. The South West Coast Path National Trail runs past the village and the section from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular.

Famous residents

The novelist Charles Kingsley lived here as a child from 1831 to 1836, while his father, the Reverend Charles Kingsley served first as Senior Curate then as Rector. Later, in 1855, his novel Westward Ho! did much to stimulate interest in Clovelly and to boost its tourist trade.

Clovelly is also described by Charles Dickens in A Message from the Sea and was painted by Rex Whistler, whose cameos of the village were used on a china service by Wedgwood.

The surgeon Campbell De Morgan (1811–1876), who first speculated that cancer arose locally and then spread more widely in the body, was born here.

Clovelly is mentioned in passing by Rudyard Kipling in Stalky & Co. as being located to the west of the boys' academy.

Clovelly is in an advert where a woman is seen rolling down the hill and out onto the pier on a trolley: John West Tuna, BMW, John Smith Beer

Turner's painting of Clovelly harbour hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

Deliveries by sledge

The impossibility of getting vehicular access to the main street has led to deliveries being made by sledge. This is not done as a tourist attraction but as a matter of practicality. Goods being delivered are pulled down the hill from an upper car park. Refuse is pulled down the hill to a waiting vehicle at the harbour.

Donkeys on the steep main street, outside the village's post office. The slope can be seen by comparing the cobbled street with the (level) slate pavement in front of the shop.

See also


  1. ^ Key figures for Clovelly Bay Office for National Statistics Retrieved 2008-10-20

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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