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Clovelly, North Devon: Once Owned By William the Conqueror

Clovelly, situated in the picturesque landscape of North Devon, stands as a testament to centuries of history and natural beauty. Nestled into a 400ft cliff overlooking Bideford Bay, this charming village offers visitors a glimpse into a bygone era and a more relaxed pace of life.

With its origins dating back to the reign of William the Conqueror, Clovelly boasts a rich heritage that spans generations. Originally owned by William himself before passing through various royal associations, the village eventually came into the possession of the Giffard family in 1242. Since the Elizabethan period, Clovelly has remained privately owned, preserving its distinctive character and timeless allure.

One of Clovelly’s most distinctive features is its lack of vehicular access, with residents relying on sledges—once predominantly donkeys—to transport goods up the steep cobbled streets from the bay. This unique mode of transportation adds to the village’s rustic charm and sense of seclusion, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and nostalgia.

Visitors to Clovelly are treated to a wealth of attractions, including two museums that offer insights into the village’s fishing heritage and early way of life. The Fisherman’s Cottage, a well-preserved example of a 1930s Clovelly home, provides a fascinating glimpse into the past with its period furnishings and informative exhibits.

For those seeking a taste of luxury, the Red Lion Hotel offers comfortable accommodations with breathtaking views of the ancient fishing harbor. Guests can indulge in fresh seafood and locally sourced produce at the hotel’s Harbour Restaurant, immersing themselves in Clovelly’s maritime traditions and culinary delights.

Exploring Clovelly’s natural wonders is a must, with the Clovelly Court Gardens providing a tranquil retreat amidst the rugged coastal landscape. The gardens, nurtured by the warm Gulf Stream currents, boast a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants, supplying the Red Lion Hotel with fresh produce year-round.

Clovelly’s coastal walks, including the South West Coast Path and the Woodland Walk, offer opportunities for scenic hikes and encounters with ancient trees, such as the venerable Ginkgo Tree. Along the way, visitors can browse the village’s quaint shops, including The Donkey Shop, which offers a charming selection of handcrafted gifts and souvenirs.

Whether admiring the views from the cliffside or exploring the village’s historic streets, visitors to Clovelly are sure to be captivated by its timeless beauty and enduring charm. As one visitor aptly remarked, Clovelly is a “fantastic place to visit,” offering a perfect blend of natural splendor, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality.

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