‘A town caught still in a timeless charm’
That was the Sidmouth that captivated the Poet Laureate, John Betjeman, and it will captivate you, too. Beautiful gardens and leisurely walks, Regency history and fine hotels, clean beaches and friendly shops…. it’s all here in this lovely seaside town that nestles beneath majestic red cliffs and the green hills of the glorious Sid Valley. Look through the Visit Sidmouth website to discover why so many ‘Select Sidmouth’ to relax and unwind through all the seasons of the year. You will discover, too, why so many return.
Sidmouth appeared in the Domesday Book as Sedemuda. Like many such settlements, it was originally a fishing village. Although attempts have been made to construct a harbour, none has succeeded. A lack of shelter in the bay prevented growth as a port.
Sidmouth remained a village until the fashion for coastal resorts grew in the Georgian and Victorian periods of the 18th and 19th centuries. The numerous fine Georgian and Regency villas and mansions are now mostly hotels.
In 1819, George III’s son Edward, Duke of Kent, his wife, and baby daughter (the future Queen Victoria) came to stay at Woolbrook Glen for a few weeks. In less than a month he had died from an illness. The house later became the Royal Glen Hotel; a plaque on an exterior wall records the visit.
In 1874, Sidmouth was connected to the railway network by a branch line from Sidmouth Junction, which called at Ottery St Mary and Tipton St John. This was dismantled in 1967 as a result of the Beeching Axe. Most of the route can still be traced and the Sidmouth railway station can still be found now although this is now a private property.
In 2008, Canadian millionaire, Keith Owen, who had vacationed in the town and planned to retire there, bequeathed the community’s civic society, the Sid Vale Association, about £2.3 million upon learning that he had only weeks to live due to lung cancer. The bequest is to be used as a capital fund to generate an annual interest dividend of around £120,000 for community projects.