The town of Honiton is a hidden gem in South East Devon. Surrounded by rich farmland and roaming hills with miles of footpaths to explore, this town is a haven for lovers of the countryside.
Honiton is situated by the scenic River Otter, of which poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote about so fondly. The river is named after its once thriving population of otters, which are now returning, thanks to conservation efforts.
This pleasant market town is lined with Georgian buildings. Its High Street has a quaint collection of independent shops specialising in antiques, antiquarian books and pottery. The town is also known for its high quality Honiton Lace. For those who want to find out more about the local history, there’s the Allhallows Museum. Antiques and lace samples are showcased here, preserving the heritage of the town and showing how residents once lived.
Considered to be the main centre in the West Country for antiques, the famous Honiton Antiques Festival will take place from 12-17 November this year. Highlights include exhibitions, valuations, specialist auctions and a restoration show.
Street markets run every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year. Every third Thursday, local produce and crafts are sold at the esteemed county market. For those who like fresh, locally sourced food, it is worth a look.
The Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Elmfield House is free to visit and exhibits the work of local artists. This grand, Georgian house was once the home and studio of late artist Thelma Hulbert. The museum now offers free workshops for the family and various themed exhibitions.
This small town has a friendly atmosphere, good food and winding alleyways that lead to hidden courtyards and unique shops. Honiton is easily accessible, with its own train station near the High Street connecting it to major cites (such as London and the nearby Exeter).
Where to stay
The High Street has a range of inns, hotels and guesthouses to choose from, with varied prices. The Home Farm Hotel is a 13-bedroom hotel and restaurant found on the A35 between Axminster and Honiton. It is a little pricey, with room prices starting at £60, but is an elegant and romantic getaway near the Jurassic coastline. See here for more options.
Where to eat
Honiton has a large selection of cafes and restaurants. From the Birds Nest Chinese restaurant, to the Toast cafe which does a scrumptious breakfast. Be sure to try some homemade clotted cream ice cream from The Honiton Dairy. Or pick up a pie or pasty from Sweetlands, who sale their locally sourced, organic fare at the street market (Tuesdays and Saturdays). Click here to see more places where you can eat.
Tell us a secret…
Perhaps not a secret, but interesting nonetheless, Honiton has an annual tradition known as Hot Pennies Day. It is exactly as it sounds, involving “hot” (well, lukewarm) pennies being thrown from balconies and public houses along the High Street. Excited children are invited to catch them, whilst the Town Crier proceeds over the event, carrying a garlanded pole throughout the ceremony.
Dating back to the 13th Century, the ceremony consisted of the rich throwing hot pennies off roofs for the poor to catch. The pennies were hot because the throwers liked to see the peasants burn their fingers – very charitable!