Bigbury-on-Sea is most famous for the island which lies just offshore, called Burgh Island. This island is separated from Bigbury-on-Sea by a sandy causeway, and though small in size, manages to pack in a traditional inn called The Pilchard, and an art deco hotel called The Burgh Island Hotel. Originally built in the 1890s by music hall star George H Chirgwin as a venue for his weekend house parties, the site morphed into a hotel in the Art Deco style, and is now a Grade II listed building. Famous guests at the hotel over the years have included The Beatles, Noel Coward, and Edward and Mrs Simpson. The causeway becomes impassable at high tide, but this minor inconvenience is overcome by use of the “Sea Tractor”, a high wheeled vehicle which is used to ferry guests to the hotel at high tide.
Burgh Island was also the haunt of a smuggler named Thomas Crocker, who used to hide out in a cave on the island commonly known as “Tom Crocker’s Hole”. Crocker was also a regular at the island’s only inn, The Pilchard, which dates back to the 14th century, and his ghost is said to haunt the inn every year on the anniversary of his death – he was shot by customs on 13th August. Going even further back in time, the island was inhabited by monks, drawn by the seclusion of the place.
Map of the area.