Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 

 

 

 

 

A Tour Around to Otterton

Otterton is a small village of about 600 souls tucked into the folds of the hills to the east of the river Otter.

Crossing the nineteenth century bridge over the river you discover the charm of this delightful place.

Picture postcard pretty

Passing the water mills, a vista opens to the village green with its row of thatched cottages and the distinctive church towering majestically above.

The village street with a very varied selection of cottages and farmhouses is just the sort of picture postcard village holiday makers crave.

From ancient to modern

Basclose - typical Otterton farmhouses
with their beautiful traditional thatching

Thatched, cob, brick...all are here for the tourists to rave over.

Even the twentieth century buildings, which intersperse the more ancient ones seem to be part of the natural evolution.

Otterton has evolved over the past 1,300 years. The Saxons first settled here and by the time the Normans arrived Otterton was the largest settlement in the South East of Devon.

Sunset over the estuary of the Otter

Yes - Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Exmouth and Topsham were virtually non-existent! But Otterton Mill was already in operation.

At that time the river Otter had a large open estuary with direct access to the sea and in fact Otterton was a port.

 

 

What about Otterton today?

So originally Otterton was a port. Today of course all this has changed dramatically. The river silted up centuries ago and Otterton turned to farming.

The major landowners amalgamated it into their vast estates in Devon. This estate-motivated life continued into the twentieth century, but by 1970s the cottages were being sold off.

A prominent landmark when leaving the B3178 to enter the village is the "Bicton Scriptural Direction Post" (or Brick Cross for short), a pillar in the centre of the crossroads, surmounted by a cross with religious inscriptions. It was erected in 1580 by the Sheriff of Devon who had to order the burning of a witch and stands where three parishes met at that time.

In 1743 Lady Rolle added plaques naming the places to where each road leads.

The lucky ones who live here

The glorious South Devon coastline
High Peak looking towards Sidmouth

Some became holiday homes and others came to retired folks like myself.

However there are those still owned by the estate or the council and these are occupied by the working population.

Altogether Otterton is a thriving community and has an excellent primary school (70 plus pupils). We have a very popular youth club, snooker club, football team and the garden club.

The pub is the hub

Enjoy a warm welcome at the local pub

We are twinned with Vieux in Normandy and have developed close strong links with our French counterpart. We hold many events that take place on the Green and the village hall is usually fully booked.

The Kings Arms Inn is the local hostelry and the local Mill, still milling and baking, is somewhat of a tourist attraction.

Unfortunately the butchers, bakers , blacksmiths and garage shop have closed in the last ten years, but there are still no signs of Otterton going the way of many small villages in England. It is still tied deeply to its heritage.

The dramatic red cliffs at Ladram Bay

Thousands of tourists flock to this area every year. Some to enjoy the coastline and beaches, others to hike around the countryside.

The local B&Bs and holiday complexes become "home" for these visitors for a mere two weeks - if they are lucky.

I on the other hand live here and every day can enjoy walks along the river banks, cliffs and drink in the panorama I first experienced when I was just a 15-year-old lad!
Ahhh... home sweet home!

 

Gerald Millington and Robert H Jones have written a small book "All About Otterton - behind the picture postcard" published by the Keverel Press. Images are courtesy of this publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otterton Village 2016