Tiverton can be found at the junction of the Rivers Exe and Lowman some 11 miles (17.7 km) north east of Exeter.
River Exe, looking towards St Peter's Church © TAB
This easily defensible site was chosen by the Normans for their dominant Motte and Bailey castle. A small settlement soon sprouted up around the castle and later the town grew in importance and prosperity on the back of Devon's burgeoning wool trade, the fast flowing rivers proving ideal for powering the local mills. In the 18th Century the wool trade declined but in 1815 the industrialist John Heathcoat set up a lace making factory. This industry really took off and Tiverton again flourished to become one of Devon's prime industrial centres. The Heathcoat lace factory, which dates from 1816, is still producing fine lacework. Samples of local lace can be seen in the the Tiverton Museum and also at the Allhallows Museum in Honiton.
Today, Tiverton is the largest town in mid Devon and has a small but busy shopping centre. The imposing structure of the parish church dedicated to St Peter dates from the 15th century and reflects the prosperity brought to the town by the wool trade. There are fine carvings of anchors, waves and ships of all types and even Barbary apes. The town has some well preserved old merchant's houses. Blundell's School was founded by back in 1640 by a local merchant and converted to dwelling houses in 1880.
The remains of the castle stand on a cliff above the banks of the River Exe. The Norman motte was built back in 1106 and extended in the 12th and 13th centuries. During the English Civil War it fell to Parliamentarian troops who demolished much of the defensive structure to prevent its re-use. Later a manor house was built within its grounds. Today the castle has ruined defensive perimeter walls and towers and buildings from various periods, and there are tales of secret passages and ghosts. It is privately owned but opens to the public during the summer.
Opening times: Easter~Oct, Sun, Thu & BH Mon only 2.30pm - 5.30pm Admission Charge
Location: Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6RP - Tel: 01884 253200 - Website
Facilities: gift shop
Housed in a 19th century school, the museum is said to contain the largest social history collection in the South West of England, as well as agricultural and industrial exhibits. Explore the museum's large, outstanding collections and trace the fascinating history of Mid Devon.
Displays include the 'Tivvy Bumper' GWR steam engine, local industries (particularly lace making), farm wagons and the history of agriculture, and the everyday home life of Mid Devon folk.
The museum is family friendly and offers a warm welcome to everyone. The museum also houses the Tourist Information Service which has the same opening hours.
Opening times: January to Christmas on Tuesday - Saturday from 10am - 4pm. Admission
Location: Beck's Square, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6PJ - Tel: 01884 256295 - Website
Facilities: Parking nearby (charged).
This old waterway opened in 1838 and runs northeast from Tiverton to Taunton. It once carried limestone and coal but lives today in tranquil retirement and offers visitors boat and horse-drawn barge trips.