The twin towns of Lynton & Lynmouth on the North Devon coast have a fascinating and varied history dating back hundreds of years.
It is a history of change, from a rural coastal farming hamlet, to enterprise and tourism. Yet despite development over the past two centuries, the town has retained its attractive charm and character to this day.
History & Literature
The Romantic Poets
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley lived in Lynmouth from 1812, where he worked on his poem Queen Mab. For a time he resided at Mrs. Hooper's Lodgings which is now a hotel in Lynmouth.
Coleridge & Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth visited Lynton & Lynmouth where they composed works inspired by their visit to the 'Valley of Stones'.
In 1799, the Romantic poet, Robert Southey, travelled here along the coast via Porlock. Upon finding Lynton & Lynmouth, nestled into the dramatic North Devon landsape, he remarked there was something distinctly Alpine in its appearance and the moniker England's Little Switzerland has been attibuted to this place ever since.
Sir George Newnes & Hollerday House
Publishing & Journalism
Sir George Newnes MP was a publisher and editor and produced many popular consumer magazines during the late 1800s. The most famous of these publications was The Strand Magazine, in which Arthur Conan Doyle first serialised his Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
Sir George played an major part in the development of Lynton & Lymouth. He financed the building of the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway, the Town Hall and the 19-mile Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, which once brought in visitors from the mainline railways at Barnstaple.
He also privately funded the British Antarctic Expedition 1898–1900. A forerunner of the more celebrated journeys made by Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
This once imposing mansion was built in the 1890s by Sir George near the summit of Hollerday Hill, directly behind the Lynton Town Hall.
The house boasted 21 bed rooms, 3 bath rooms, a spacious lounge, hall in oak, four receptions, a billiard room, offices, stables, motor garage, croquet lawns, gravel tennis courts and a bowling green, as well as 40 acres of Hollerday Hill.
Sir George died here in June 1910 and in August 1913 the mansion was destroyed by fire. The remains of the house were demolished by the army during the Second World War and much of the stone re-used to build bridges and structures destroyed by the 1952 flood.
The Overland Launch & The Louisa
Ship in distress!
On the night of the 12th January, 1899 an urgent telegram was received by Lynmouth Post Office telling of a large vessel, the Forrest Hall, was drifting ashore in treacherous waters in the Bristol Channel.
The storm prevented the launch of the Louisa lifeboat from Lynmouth, so coxswain, Jack Crowcombe, made the heroic decision to carry the boat overland launch from Porlock Weir - 15 miles away!
Launching the Louisa
The 10-ton lifeboat required twenty horses and a team of some 100 men to ferry the cumbersome vessel on its carriage up Countisbury Hill, over Exmoor and down the 1-in-4 Porlock Hill.
The journey took 11 hours, and once launched into the Bristol Channel, a further hour to reach the stricken ship. The lifeboat and crew remained with the Forrest Hall until daylight, when it was tugged across the Channel to Barry for repair - reaching port in the early hours of the 14th January.
The Lynmouth Flood
15th August 1952
After days of torrential rainfall over Exmoor, accummulated flood water forced its way down the narrow valleys of the West and East Lyn rivers, which converge at Lynmouth.
The surge brought with it trees and boulders which dammed the rivers causing the waters to burst through with devastating consequences, crushing many homes and businesses with a significant loss of life in the villages of Barbrook and Lynmouth.
Overnight, over a hundred buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repair along with 28 of the 31 bridges which spanned the two rivers.