Welcome to Bickleigh
Bickleigh is a picturesque village in the Exe valley on the main road between Exeter and Tiverton. It has lovely thatched cottages, a railway museum, 14th century bridge, a working water mill, shopping and crafts centre.
- King Edward the Elder issued three charters in the year AD904 at Bickleigh (written as Bicanleag) .
- The celebrated Bampfylde-Moore Carew, son of Theodore Carew, rector of Bickleigh, was born in the village in 1693. Commonly called ‘King of the Beggars’, Bampfylde-Moore pursued a career as an out-and-out rogue pretending to be a blind (and sometimes lame) beggar. He was also a practised dog thief, accomplished pickpocket, master of disguises and the ‘Gypsy King’. Transported to Maryland, Bampfylde-Moore escaped back to Britain and joined Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army on its 1745 march, before returning to Bickleigh until his death in 1758. Major John Gabriel Stedman, who published the History of Surinam, and died in 1797 is also buried at Bickleigh Cemetery. There is no memorial of either.
- In the 1960s, singer-songwriter Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel) stayed in Bickleigh Village. Because of this, a myth started that Bickleigh’s medieval bridge inspired the famous song ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Art Garfunkel denied the rumour in a 2003 interview, stating that phrase came from a Baptist hymn. However, it is still possible that Simon intended more than one allusion.
- In circa 1332, an altercation took place on Bickleigh Bridge between Sir Alexander Cruwys, Lord of the Manor of nearby Cruwys Morchard, and an unnamed member of the Carew family who lived at Bickleigh Castle. Cruwys was the victor; smiting his opponent with a sword and dispatching him into the waters of the Exe. Condemned to be hanged, Sir Alexander bought himself a pardon by selling twenty-two manors of land. At midnight each year on mid-summer’s day, Sir Alexander’s ghost – in full armour, with head under his arm – rides a charger across Bickleigh Bridge.
Places to Visit
- Bickleigh Castle is a fortified manor house standing on the banks of the River Exe. Book a guided castle tour; learn about the history and hear the intriguing stories associated with it. Bickleigh Castle has been home to many notable persons throughout history, including: Lady Margaraet de Bohun, (grand-daughter of King Edward I) and King Henry VII’s great-aunt Lady Margaret Beaufort. Famous visitors include Queen Henrietta Maria (wife of King Charles I) and earlier, Princess Katherine Platagenet (daughter of King Edward IV and aunt to Henry VIII). Princess Katherine entertained courtiers and royalty at the Castle including, it is rumoured, a young Anne Boleyn.
- The Devon Railway Centre is a popular tourist attraction with a unique railway experience. The venue is based at the former Cadeleigh railway station on the closed Exe Valley Railway.
- Woodland Trust Wood ‘Northdown Wood’ is a beautiful peaceful woodland on the edge of the parish near Thorverton. With superb spring flowers hidden away in the rolling hills, it is fantastic for a walk with the family.
- Bickleigh’s medieval church was predominantly built in the 14th century, though still contains a 12th century south doorway and font. The church is home to carved bench-ends depicting scenes of medieval life.
Places to Eat
- Visit the Fisherman’s Cot; a thatched roof pub set against stunning views along the River Exe. Enjoy traditional pub dishes in the restaurant or riverside gardens and you might spot an otter on the river!
- Bickleigh Mill is one of Devon’s largest and most exciting rural shopping, eating and recreation destinations. Its Bistro Restaurant serves tasty meals, snacks and drinks throughout the week. The centre is housed within an 18th century historic working water Mill. Resident peacocks often make an appearance and greet guests with their colourful plumage displays.
- Exe Valley Way Stage 5, this takes you from Bickleigh to Tiverton. This stage of the Exe Valley Way walk closely follows the east bank of the Exe, winding through rich oak woodlands. In season look out for violets, early purple orchids and Indian balsam.
- Exe Valley Way Stage 4, this walk takes you from Thorverton to Bickleigh. This route starts with a climb high up on to the side of the Exe Valley, with beautiful views of the valley and the River Exe, as well as the sea on a clear day. The second half of the route is relatively flat and follows the valley floor, past Bickleigh Castle and Bickleigh Bridge all the way up to the front of the Bickleigh Mill.
Towns and Villages
- Towns and Villages