Devon LivingIssue #05

Explore Honiton

A historic market town nestled in the beautiful countryside of east Devon.

The historic market town of Honiton is encircled by the rolling hills and wooded groves of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Providing the perfect base to explore this incredibly picturesque part of Devon, it boasts a wealth of shops, bistros and pubs to enjoy. A favourite among locals is The Holt Pub Restaurant and Smokehouse, which serves a mouth-watering selection of locally sourced produce, with a tantalising twist of flavours.

“As you walk through the streets of Honiton, evidence of its rich history can be seen from its striking church to Honiton’s already impressive Georgian high street.”

As you walk through the streets of Honiton, evidence of its rich history can be seen from its striking church to the weekly market, which adds a vibrant array of fresh produce, flowers, clothing, jewellery and antiques to Honiton’s already impressive Georgian high street. After perusing the market stalls, head to the Allhallows Museum and discover the story behind Honiton Lace, an intricate and finely crafted bobbin lace, traditionally used in royal items – it even graced the fringes of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress!

Almost as famous, is Honiton Pottery; no longer made but highly collectable, pieces can be found in the plethora of antique shops around town, and most likely among market stalls too. If you happen to visit during mid-July then be prepared for hot pennies flying through the air and clattering to the streets. Honiton’s quirky tradition of hot penny throwing is re-enacted every year, and dates back to the 13th century. To prolong your cultural introduction, make sure to visit the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, an award winning public art gallery, which supports and promotes the practice and understanding of contemporary arts and crafts through an inspiring season of exhibitions and workshops. The gallery is housed within a remarkable Grade II listed town house, formally the home and studio of artist Thelma Hulbert, and displays a permanent collection of her beautiful artwork.

If you want to don your walking boots and explore the wilder reaches of Honiton, then head to Blackbury Camp and discover the subtle dips and rises of this Iron Age dwelling. The enclosure is oval in shape, and arguably the most remarkable feature of the camp is the front entrance. Defined by large ramparts, it’s the best-preserved aspect of the dwelling and features a pebble-paved floor taken from the shores of the river.

The area surrounding Honiton is a picture of rural bliss, and there are numerous walking trails to explore. When travelling from London to Land’s End, Daniel Defoe described the view from Honiton Hill as: “The most beautiful landscape in the world,” hinting at the spectacular views you can expect to see on any ramble through the town and into the surrounding countryside. The River Otter rises to the north of Honiton in the Blackdown Hills and meanders through the town on its bid to fuse with the ocean at Budleigh Salterton, turn your gaze to the banks and you may just see the playful, dog like features of its namesake, the ever-elusive river otter. For those of you with green fingers, head to the Otter Nurseries Garden Centre, located just fifteen minutes west of the town and boasting an extensive garden of 100 acres and a multitude of different plants for sale.

If you want to get a dose of the coast as well as the country, Devon and Dorsets’ acclaimed Jurassic Coast is only a 20-minute drive away, with the beautiful coves of Seaton, Beer and Sidmouth offering stunning stretches of sandy beach.

Arguably, the highlight of Honiton’s seasonal calendar is the acclaimed Honiton Show, taking place in early August. The show is held in the heart of the east Devon countryside on a 140-acre site, and is a showcase of the best local farming, produce, crafts and rural skills. The show is delighted to be hosting the West of England Hound Show this year, and has already attracted a whopping 400 trade stalls making it one of the largest business and social events in east Devon.

Any visit to this remarkable town is set to be full of culture, adventure and a refreshing dip into the rolling countryside of one of Devon’s most picturesque areas. Honiton is surrounded by countryside on all sides but one and has a wealth of attractions to offer – there’s something for everyone to discover and explore within this beautiful and historic market town.

"As you walk through the streets of Honiton, evidence of its rich history can be seen from its striking church to Honiton’s already impressive Georgian high street."