What do Exeter Cathedral, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle have in common? Answer: they all include stone quarried from Beer. The underground quarry here was first worked by the Romans, and the stone used to be transported over often long distances by horse and cart. The journey was considered worth the effort, since Beer stone was highly prized, having the twin attributes of being easily carved when newly quarried, but hardening on exposure to the air, whereupon it took on an attractive creamy white hue. The quarry still exists today as a tourist attraction, and can be visited between April and September, or out of season by arrangement. Another notable item produced at Beer was Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, which was made in Beer from Honiton lace, costing £1,000.
Beer was the birthplace of one of the most famous smugglers of all, Jack Rattenbury. By the time he entered the “profession” of smuggling, still in his teens, he had already seen a remarkable amount of action, having been on board a privateer which was captured and taken to Bordeaux, from where he managed to escape to an American ship, eventually winding up in New York. He finally made it back to Beer ia Copenhagen, Le Havre and Guernsey. During his smuggling runs he was captured a number of times, but put his early experience of escape to good use, helped along by the fact that he was an excellent swimmer. Eventually, in middle age, he put all his smuggling activities behind him and devoted his time to the inn he kept in Beer
The village of Beer consists mainly of a long street leading down to a small cove surrounded by geologically rich cliffs, with fishing boats drawn up on the shingle beach. This charming scene is overlooked by one of the village’s several pubs, the Anchor Inn where, incidentally, there is a picture of the aforementioned Jack Rattenbury, plus a themed Jack Rattenbury room. To the east of the village is a delightful clifftop walk heading towards the neighbouring community of Seaton.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Brian and Sarah | more info (via: Wylio)