History of Devon

Devon is known for many things from its beautiful coastline, warm climate and delicious fresh cuisine, making it the perfect holiday destination to explore and enjoy.

If you want to know more about your upcoming holiday destination and some fun facts about Devon, read on.


Firstly, where is Devon? Devon is in the beautiful South West of England, bordered by Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall. All of our Sweetcombe properties are based along the East Devon coast and rural countryside amongst rolling hills, jaw dropping cliffs and a choice of sandy or pebble beaches.

Devon is the only county in England to boast two National parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor, both extremely popular for outdoor activities from mountain biking and walking, to watching wild ponies and wildlife. Devon also stands alone in having two non-continuous coastlines, the north and south and with 65% of Devon’s coastline recognised as Heritage Coast, it makes for a huge selection of beautiful walks along the South West Coast Path. Along the East Devon coast, we are also fortunate to have the UNESCO World Heritage Site- The Jurassic Coast, known for fossil discovery and unique landforms, protecting 185 million years of history.

Brief History of Devon

History in Devon dates back to the Stone Age where some of the earliest occupied sites after the ice age can be seen at Kents Cavern near Torbay. On Dartmoor, the earliest human activity dates back 8,000 years ago when the oak forest was burned and cleared to leave the moorland we see today. The land was farmed and mined for tin, copper and lead, leaving some of the most distinctive ancient relics behind such as, settlements, stone circles and burial mounds.

Devon’s name, which is thought to mean ‘deep valley dwellers’ comes from the Dumnonii Celts who resided here through the British Iron Age and Roman Britain. The Celtic Western Peninsula region lasted until the mid-9th century, when it was conquered by the Anglo Saxon’s and Devon would never again be independent of rule from England.  Following King William the Conqueror’s invasion in 1066, he recognised the importance of the West Country and divided the rich farmland amongst his Norman Barons.

In more modern history, Devon can be known for its popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries, where coastal resorts, such as Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Topsham, grew from fishing villages with many Georgian and Regency buildings still remaining. Meanwhile, the port of Plymouth grew as an important trade hub and centre of military operations and by the World Wars in the 20th century it was one of the most valued ports in the country. This ultimately led to it being bombed along with other significant monuments and cathedrals such as the beautiful Exeter Cathedral which still stands powerfully after its repairs.

Weather and Climate

The South West has many microclimates which experience warmer temperatures and less extreme weather changes. Devon boasts some of the mildest temperatures in the UK with the East Devon Coast being one of the sunniest places in the UK. On the whole the county benefits from warm summers and boasts some of the mildest winters in the world for its position which makes it a very popular holiday destination all year round.


With an abundance of rural farmland and the ocean on the doorstep, Devon prides itself on delicious fresh produce with many restaurants and deli’s showcasing Devon’s finest fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cider and ales. However, it wouldn’t be a holiday without indulging in local ice cream, fudge and pasties too!

But let’s address the elephant in the room, the county’s finest delicacy- The Devonshire Cream Tea, a freshly baked scone layered with local clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam. The cream tea has been served in the UK from the 11th Century and the layering order remains a controversial debate, as the Cornish cream tea tends to serve the jam first then the cream. The ‘right’ way is down to personal preference, but either way is equally as delicious.

Getting to Devon

Although Devon sounds like a faraway fairy-tale, it is easily reached whether you wish to travel by train, car or plane. Most major train routes pass through Exeter and Honiton, with busses and taxis to connect you to nearby towns. Leaving the M5 at Exeter, it is a short drive to the beautiful East Devon coast and country. With fuel prices increasing, you can enjoy the beauty of the South West without travelling too far. Use Go Compares handy fuel price calculator to work out your travel prices here.

Now you’ve got a feel of the place, why not experience the Devon way of life by staying in one of Sweetcombe’ s beautiful self-catered holiday cottages along the East Devon Coast. From stylish town centre apartments to larger countryside boltholes, we have something for everyone and our friendly local team are on hand to help you find the perfect home from home and answer any questions you may have.

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