12 facts about Devon you probably don’t know

Everyone knows Devon is the best place on Earth, but while that may be true – it’s not very interesting. Fortunately there are plenty of interesting facts about Devon that are also true.

In fact, one of the facts even involves Trump. #NotFakeNews. So we have gathered 12 quite interesting facts about Devon, if you don’t learn something you didn’t already know then we aren’t doing our job.

If you have your own facts about Devon you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below. In an age of Fake News, Devon is leading the way in the field of quite interesting truths.

Devon has more road than anywhere else in the country

True fact. You maybe thought it was London, or Birmingham. Nope. Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of road – the longest network in the country. The county is home to everything from single track rural lanes across Dartmoor and Exmoor to major highways like the A38 and A30 – as well as the M5.

Devon has the slowest roads in the country

Image result for exeter traffic devonlive

Not only do we have more road than anyone else, it also takes you longer to use. A survey by international travel experts Inrix, who provide live traffic information to people like the BBC, this year named Exeter the slowest city in the country during rush-hour. Yes, slower than London. Traffic crawls through the city at just 4.6mph at the busiest times of day. You can walk faster. Businesses in Exeter spend more time stuck in traffic than businesses in London.

Devon has the narrowest street in the world

Parliament Street in Exeter bears a plaque claiming it to be the narrowest street in the world. At its narrowest it is about 0.64 metres (2 ft 1 in) at its widest it is 1.22 metres (4 ft 0 in). It used to be called Small Lane but was renamed Parliament Street to poke fun at the Government for passing the 1832 Reform Bill, funny eh? The German’s claim they have the narrowest street in the world – but that’s really just a gap between two houses. Parliament Street runs from High Street to Waterbeer Street. In 1836 the residents of Waterbeer Street paid to have the street widened. The council hasn’t done that yet. Maybe after the new pool?

Devon invented the Cornish pasty


I know what you’re thinking, the clue’s in the name. But just like they don’t get cream teas right, our Cornish cousins didn’t invent the pasty either. The earliest recorded recipe for the pasty was discovered in 2006 and dates back 500 years. Yup, it’s in a Devon book. So, you can go to Europe all you like and get them to say Cornish Pasties have to be made in Cornwall. Doesn’t make it so. If you like, we can also prove we invented Cornish Piskies, the Cornish language and the writer and director Joe Cornish.

Devon has the country’s oldest bakery

New cafe for Plymouth as Britain's oldest bakery gets a makeover

It isn’t only pasties we’ve been making forever, we’ve also been making bread and biscuits since before America was born. How do we know? Jacka Bakery on the Barbican made biscuits that went onto The Mayflower for the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers. It is the oldest bakery in the country, even older than those sandwiches you get in South West Train buffet cars. Just think, if Jacka hadn’t been there all those years ago we might not have the USA today. You’re welcome. We also used to have the oldest hotel in the country, the Royal Clarence in Exeter, but that is temporarily burnt to the ground.

Devon has Europe’s oldest cinema

Historic Paignton Picture House

Oldest bakery, oldest hotel, oldest cinema. Wow! We’re good. Torbay Picture House was opened on 16 March 1914, and is believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Europe. In its early days it featured a 21-piece orchestra, with each member paid a guinea to perform. There are 375 seats: 271 in the stalls, 104 in the circle, plus three private boxes at the back seating an additional eight. A project is currently under way to bring it back into use. We can’t say for sure, but the first film shown was probably the original Police Academy.

Devon has the country’s only exclamation mark!

Image result for westward ho! northdevonjournal

OK, so maybe not the only exclamation mark. The Sun also has quite a few in its headlines.But we do have the only place with an exclamation mark in its name – Westward Ho! The village near Bideford was named after the Charles Kingsley novel, meaning it is also the only place named after a work of fiction, until Thundercats Ho! opens near Plymouth in 2019. Back in the 19th century adding punctuation to your town’s name was the height of marketing genius. We’re off to add an interrobang to Torbay.

Devon was the last place in the country to execute witches

By the late 1600s the rest of the country had given up executing people as witches, and instead started giving them columns in the Daily Mail. But the last English executions for witchcraft happened in Exeter in 1682 and 1685. Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards and Mary Trembles, of Bideford died in 1682 and Alice Molland died in 1685 in Heavitree. They were accused of causing illness and death by the black arts. Now the RD&E does it by MRSA.

Devon invented the Jack Russell

The Jack Russell Terrier was created by the Reverend John Russell – born in Dartmouth, went to school in Plympton, rector of Black Torrington. He bought a dog which had stumpy legs, huge ears and was great at digging around in filth. Called Trump. Seriously. The white and tan dog was excellent at digging out foxes which had gone to ground. But would have made a useless leader of the Free World. This was the origin of the Jack Russell. Not the Muslim Travel Ban.

Devon has the country’s only 16-sided house

Image result for a la ronde devonlive

If you’re ever filling in a request list on Zoopla making it clear what your house must have – three bedrooms, parking, nearby school, must be hexadecagonal you won’t be in much luck. The only 16-side house in the country is A La Ronde in east Devon. It was built for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, on their return from a grand tour of Europe in the late 18th century The interior decoration includes a feather frieze, gathered from native game birds and chickens, laboriously stuck down with isinglass and a shell-encrusted gallery, said to contain nearly 25,000 shells. Sounds like it was designed by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen after a head injury – but actually worth a visit.

Devon is home to the UK’s oldest humans

Image result for kents cavern jaw

No, not those people who constantly walk in front of you down the High Street. A fragment of jaw bone was discovered in Kent’s Cavern in Torquay in 1927 and carbon-dating followed by studies in 2011 say it could date from 44,200BC and is Homo Sapiens – making it the oldest modern human remains found in North West Europe. Not all scientists agree with the dating, mostly the ones from Cornwall.

Devon is home to the last castle built in England

Image result for drogo devonlive

Not everything in Devon is really, really old. Castle Drogo dates from 1930 – and is the last castle to have been built in England. In 1910 Julius Drewe bought about 450 acres south and west of the village of Drewsteignton and asked Edwin Lutyens to build him a castle. The First World War and the economic downturn caused many delays. Exeter City Council had nothing to do with this one. The castle’s defensive characteristics are purely decorative and it had electricity and lifts from the outset, with power being supplied by two turbines on the river below.

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