Bideford claims to be the place where the last hangings for witchcraft took place in England. Three women, Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards were tried in 1682 based on evidence which was largely hearsay, but which did not stop the three of them from being hanged. This event is one of many facets of Bideford’s past on display at the Burton Art Gallery andMuseum. Another exhibit charts the development of Bideford’s famous bridge over the River Torridge, known as the Long Bridge, which was begun in 1280 as a wooden structure graced with two chapels and a large cross in the centre. The bridge was subsequently rebuilt in stone and widened, and now stands at 677 feet long with 24 arches.
Bideford was once one of Britain’s busiest ports, and the 17th century quay is a reminder of that time. Now the quay serves fishing boats and pleasure craft, as well as daytrips to Lundy Island from March to October. Another reminder of the town’s past economy is the Pannier Market, which continues a tradition dating back to 1272, the year the first market charter was granted. There is a lovely park called Victoria Park on the west bank of the river where eight cannons known as the Armada Guns are on display. The guns were discovered in 1890 when the quay was being widened, and some of the old mooring posts were found to be cannons from a Spanish Armada shipwreck.
Map of the area.
|Bideford Long Bridge at low tide. Photo by Steve Daniels, via Wikimedia Commons|