Visit Devizes: Places to stay, things to do

Rachael Stephens guides you round the pretty Wiltshire market town of Devizes

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Why go there?
Devizes is a charming market town worth visiting for its ancient architecture, rich history, and fantastic shopping. Drop by on a Thursday for what remains of the old markets, and grab a bargain from the fruit and vegetable stalls. Other stalls include the charming Olives & Stuff, various arts, crafts and fabric stalls, plus a highly regarded butchers and fishmongers. When you’ve had your fill of food, Devizes has a modern high street, plus a range of independent businesses that specialise in gifts, arts and crafts. Hours can be lost wondering around the numerous boutiques and Shambles Market. If you aren’t the shopping kind, then Devizes still has plenty of attractions. The Wiltshire Heritage Museum is designated by the government as nationally important for its extensive and fascinating collection that documents the history of Wiltshire and of archaeology itself. The Kennet and Avon Canal is nearby, with a pleasant walk along its series of charming locks, where you can spot many an entertainingly decorated boat moored outside historical houses. If after all that you need a stiff drink, you can take a tour of the Wadworth Brewery. The active brewery still delivers draughts by Shire horse, and tasting tours are available from the visitors centre.

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Where to stay
The Black Swan Hotel is situated within walking distance of the Kennet and Avon Canal, and offers rooms in a central location for a reasonable price. A recently refurbished 17th century coaching inn, the bar and lounge area are charmingly ‘olde worlde’ with a selection of national and locally brewed beer. In contrast to the traditional public house style bar, the en suite rooms are, being bright and airy but equally as comfortable. A family run establishment, the staff are friendly and welcoming.

Where to eat
The Bear Hotel is situated right on the bustling marketplace in the centre of Devizes. The venue has two restaurants, with the Lambtons Restaurant providing fine dining and the Bear Grills Bistro providing a diverse lunchtime menu and a range of very reasonably priced steaks and grills. The staff were extremely accommodating to dietary needs, even producing a gluten free flatbread to compliment a starter of delicious and fresh Greek style dips and olives. Just across the market place there are a variety of cafes that offer a diverse selection of teas and local produce, plus some very naughty ice cream sundaes and milkshakes!

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Tell us a secret…
Devizes is a hub for drama. The Wharf Theatre was set up by an amateur dramatics group shortly after the second world war, and now produce between eight and nine full length productions a year, as well as playing host to visiting companies. The town also has numerous festivals throughout the year that all in some way celebrate or include theatre, such as the Devizes Street Festival, which showcases a range of street theatre, and concludes with a fabulous carnival parade and an unmissable confetti battle. The Devizes Festival is more diverse, with locals and visitors enjoying everything from a food and drink market, to theatre, comedy and musical performances from all genres.