Anyone who wants to get a feel for what it must have been like to have lived through the bombardments of the Second World War should cast an eye over the wartime diaries of Phyllis Bethel, who lived in Topsham when all hell was letting loose around her, and who kept a compelling account of those terrifying times. Her diary certainly puts our 21st century concerns into perspective.
Topsham is a small town almost at the head of the Exe estuary, and which forms part of the greater city of Exeter, but for the purposes of this blog receives honorary coastal status. Topsham has existed as a settlement since Roman times, but it was during Saxon rule that it grew into a significant village. At one time Topsham was renowned as an important cotton port, and the relic of those times can be seen in the Dutch style buildings still in evidence in the village. There is a museum in the town for those wanting to find out more about this and other aspects of Topsham’s history.
The day we visited Topsham was Valentines Day, and we were treated to unseasonably mild weather, so that we were able to enjoy an al fresco lunch outside a charming riverside pub. We were able to park further up in the town without undue fuss or expense. A quick visit to the Topsham Live! website reveals a feistiness to which the rest of the nation should aspire: “TOPSHAM car parks could soon revert back to being free after nearly 100 residents complained to city councillors.” That’s the way to do it. Good luck folks!
Map of the area.
photo © 2005 luigi53 | more info (via: Wylio)