Clovelly is a picture-postcard fishing
village on the north coast of Devon
, a famous tourist
attraction partly for the prettiness
of the village and partly for the staggeringly steep
hill going down to the sea. There are no cars; cars couldn't operate here. It's one long cobble
d high street down the cliff to the harbour
, and the only traffic is done by donkey
. Postcards of this, cobbles and hanging basket
s and donkeys and all, travel the world. It's an absolute must-see if you're anywhere near this part of England.
It's ancient, mentioned in the Domesday Book, but it was in the sixteenth century that one George Cary was the landlord of Clovelly, and turned it from an inhospitable hilltop hamlet to an important economic village by having built a very large curved stone quay on the beach below. This harbours numerous fishing vessels, and it is this that gives the village its peculiar shape, a strip of houses tumbling downwards to the sea. These days the tourist industry is much more important than the fishing, of course, and it has very much the feel of some slightly mad scheme preserved in aspic. It is not, by anyone's standards, an ordinary village or an ordinary fishing community. And the hill really is quite staggeringly steep. (Oh wait, I've already mentioned that. Well it is. They put on a Land Rover service round a back route for walkers who can't face the walk back up.)
Today it's all run by a trust, and before that it was taken care of by the Hamlyn family, lords of the manor of Clovelly from 1738, and its touristy character enhanced especially by the efforts of Mrs Christine Hamlyn from the 1880s. The novelist Charles Kingsley lived here in his early years, his father being clergyman. One local tradition is that on Shrove Tuesday the children drag tin cans and buckets up and down the street to scare off the Devil. The town's name is pronounced with stress on the VELL.
For a map showing its shape, see www.westcountry.net/devon/clovelly.htm
For pictures of donkeys and the street, www.clovellydonkeys.co.uk/clovelly/clovelly.htm
A bit of history from: www.picturesofengland.com/Clovelly