Historic holidays in Devon: 7 places to stay

Fancy a break? Take a peek into times past at one of these historic venues, says Claire Saul

When it comes to breaks away from home Devon is spoiled for choice, But some properties offer a little extra at no extra charge; intriguing stories to share about their history. When walking through their doors you might also find yourself stepping into the echoes of a past era.

Lighthouse Keepers Cottage

For nature lovers looking for accommodation which ticks the box for ‘sea view’ and ‘remote’, the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage at Foreland Point might be the perfect escape, perched as it is on the cliff face near Lynton; nervous drivers are warned from attempting the hairpin bends on the narrow descent to it. Keeper William Flaxmer was the Principal Lighthouse Keeper in charge more than 115 years ago when the lighthouse was first established to aid navigation in the Bristol Channel, but as the operational 15m tower is now automated you won’t need to lift a finger. Six bedrooms sleep up to ten and there is a minimum stay of three nights.

Prices start at £620. nationaltrustholidays.org.uk

The Library

The Library near Great Torrington is a Landmark Trust property dating back to the early 1700s and is thought to have been the work of a local mason-architect who was familiar with the work of Wren. It is twinned with an orangery and located in the formal gardens of the now-ruined Victorian mansion Stevenstone belonging to the influential local Rolle family. It was possibly originally used as a banqueting house before becoming a library and then, in the late 1940s, a home. It sleeps four, with a minimum four-night stay.

Prices start from £257. landmarktrust.org.uk

Blagdon Water

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Holidaymakers on the delightful Devon Houseboats located at the thirty-five acre site surrounding Blagdon Water near Holsworthy are unwittingly fulfilling local ambitions originally foiled two hundred years ago when the Bude Canal was constructed to deliver mineral-rich sand and other cargoes via canal tub boat for the improvement of farmland and to drive prosperity into the rural area. The Painted Lady, Swallow Tail and Clouded Yellow houseboats are moored separately and out of sight from each other and all have their own barbeque and picnic area. Two of the boats also enjoy their own spacious lakeside boathouses. Each boat sleeps four, in ensuite cabins.

Prices start at £465 for a one-week stay. blagdonwater.com


The stunning Elizabethan manor house Cadhay at Ottery St Mary dates from 1550 and features the fabulous leaded windows, stone fireplaces, curved roof timbers and long gallery typical of the grand houses of the period. Its stones originate from the former College at Ottery St Mary which was suppressed in 1545. The property offers self-catering accommodation for up to 22 people, with additional accommodation available in the Stables and Coach House cottages, which both each sleep up to six people.

Weekly and weekend stays are available in both, the manor starting from £3,300 for the week and the cottages from £428. cadhay.org.uk

Haldon Belvedere

The three-sided white tower of Haldon Belvedere sits high on a ridge near Haldon Forest at Dunchideock near Exeter. The ridge itself has an incredible historic timeline of its own, but the Grade II listed local landmark formerly known as Lawrence Castle was built in 1788 by Sir Robert Palk as a memorial to Major General Stringer-Lawrence with whom he had been associated in India, and who had formed and commanded the army there.

Amongst many distinguished visitors to the property is King George III, for whose visit a special carriageway, the King’s Road, was built the following year. The second floor of Haldon Belvedere is a fully equipped, self-catering apartment for two. Visitors can also access the roof terrace for a stunning 360° panoramic view.

From £325 for a three night stay. haldonbelvedere.co.uk

Tavistock Railway Station

Tavistock Railway Station witnessed more than its fair share of arrivals and departures between its grand opening in 1890 and being decommissioned in 1968. And visitors still come and go today, since the Grade II listed building has now been transformed into two luxury, award-winning self catering cottages, fronted by the station’s original platform canopy and ornate ironwork. The Ticketing Hall features its original panelling, ticket windows and Victorian cast iron fireplace and over mantel and sleeps up to four, with space for an additional cot. Also sleeping four and retaining its original fireplace, now beautifully restored, is the downstairs double bedroom in the Porter’s Hall, formerly the Ladies Waiting Room.

The cottages offer weekend and short breaks in addition to longer stays, with prices starting from £340. oldtavistockrailwaystation.co.uk

Bayards Cove

The black and white timbered Bayards Cove Inn is the second oldest building in historic Dartmouth and adjoins the cobbled quayside where the Mayflower docked in 1620 before setting sail for America. Some of the inn’s walls and beams are believed to date as far back as the 1300s.

The building was formerly the home of a Tudor merchant, before becoming a shop, then a restaurant and subsequently an inn. All seven rooms, named after famous admirals, feature original beams and are available for single night stays midweek and two night minimum weekend stays. Prices from £105 including breakfast. bayardscoveinn.co.uk