The Seaton Tramway is a 2 ft 9 in (838 mm) narrow gauge electric tramway which operates over part of the route of a former London & South Western Railway branch line to Seaton, Devon. The tram line was established in 1970 by Claude Lane.
The line runs from Colyton village to Seaton, with an intermediate stop at Colyford. Currently while the new station in Seaton is under construction, trams terminate at the Seaton Riverside depot, with onward travel by shuttle bus. As compensation for the shortened run, on the return from Seaton a conducted tour of the tram depot is currently included.
The tram ride is very enjoyable, as a top deck seat ensures views of the countryside and the riverside wetlands between Colyford and Seaton. Around a dozen trams may be seen at the tramshed. The tram service runs every half hour or so in season. There is free parking at Colyton station.
For the technically minded, the trams operate on 120 volts DC, fed from batteries which are trickle charged.
The village of Colyton is worth a visit, as is the old part of Seaton.
Mottisfont was originally an Augustinian priory. After the Dissolution the monastic buildings were largely dismantled or incorporated into a large Tudor mansion with two courtyards. Little now remains of the Tudor mansion. In the 18th century most of the Tudor buildings were demolished and a three-storey south front constructed, giving the building much of its present-day appearance. The Stables were rebuilt in 1836.
Successive owners made changes to the interior. in 1934 the house was bought by the Russells who repaired and modernised the house, changing the function and fittings of many of the rooms.
The principal rooms on the ground floor are open to visitors, and some upstairs rooms are open as exhibition spaces, and maids’ rooms can be seen on the attic level. The ground floor contains a collection of paintings, notably the Derek Hill collection. The Russells converted the original entrance hall into a grand saloon with spectacular trompe l’oeil murals by Rex Whistler.
At basement level, vaulted cellars and other features from the old priory can be seen. One cellar contains a poignant sculpture of estate workers disappearing into the wall, a reference to WWI.
Outside the house is a 20th century parterre. Further afield are a walled garden, a winter garden, the river and other features. The Trust manages an estate of over 1600 acres.
Mottisfont is well worth a visit, which could extend to over half a day.
The Rosemoor Gardens are situated in a valley near Torrington, spanning both sides of the A3124. Most of the garden sections are devoted to flowering plants, but there are also some fruit and vegetable sections. If you want to see all the gardens, it is suggested that you start in the ‘far’ section at the other side of the road through the tunnel. This is the original part of the gardens and contains the original house. The house is not interesting and is converted into holiday lets.
Plants are mostly labelled so that you can identify them and maybe buy a specimen in the shop. The gardens contain both formal and informal plantings. On arrival you will probably be handed a leaflet with a numbered trail to visit interesting plants in bloom. This is a way of touring the garden if you don’t want to look at everything.
The gardens are well worth a visit if you are a serious gardener.
Parking – the car park is on the left as you arrive, but if you have a problem with going there, note that the ‘Accessibility’ parking to the right includes spaces that can be used by the non-disabled as required.
Markers Cottage is a medieval cob house that retains many original features. Originally it had a hall open to the roof and a cross passage. Smoke blackened thatch can still be seen in the attic. A medieval wood partition has paintings on it, and upstairs a section of decorative plasterwork is preserved.
Later the cottage was given a first floor and sub-divided. The garden contains a charming cob summerhouse (a Millenium project).
The cottage is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I suggest you combine your visit with a visit to Clyston Mill in the same village of Broadclyst.
The discreet National Trust signs in the village will take you to the village car park. Look for the sign indicating how to walk to the cottage. There is no onward signage: essentially you walk to the far end of the car park, exit in the RH corner, turn left and proceed along the edge of the playing field till you reach a street with a yellow painted thatched cottage in it. You can drive to the cottage and park outside: exit the car park turning left, then right & right into Town End street. You should be able to park outside (except during the school run!).
Clyston Mill is an 18th century watermill on the outskirts of the village of Broadclyst. It has an undershot waterwheel, which drives gearing driving two sets of millstones. Visitors can access two floors and see the mechanism. The mill is still in working order and can grind corn into flour. Working is dependent on the level of the river, as flood levels prevent the undershot wheel from functioning.
It is possible to combine a visit here with a visit to Killerton House, several miles away. The Mill is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
On driving into the village you should see a discreet National Trust sign. This in fact leads to the village car park. Park here and look for the signage directing you by foot to the mill. There is an adequate trail of signage which leads you across the main street, past the church, across a meadow, through the grounds of a private house, to the mill.
The Old Post Office is part of the Killerton estate, and a visit to it can be combined with a visit to Killerton House and grounds (Q.V.)
The Old Post Office closed in the 1960’s and is housed in a thatched cottage about half a mile from the Killerton house car park. It is displayed as it might have looked in the 1960’s with period counter and packaged products. There is also a small cottage garden and outbuildings with a pigsty and (replica) pig.
Well worth a visit of about half an hour.
You can walk to the cottage from the house grounds – the footpath heads in the opposite direction to the house and crosses a road. It is also possible to drive there if you turn left out of the house car park exit and then first right at a small grassy triangle. There is limited parking on a loop road outside the cottage.
The cottage has its own postcode.
Invitation to View
I visited Shilstone under the ‘Invitation to View’ scheme. Unusually for ITV, the visit was hosted by the Devon Rural Archive who are based in the adjoining outbuildings, and not by the house owners, the Fenwicks. Shilstone also trades as a wedding venue, so if you want exterior pictures, go to the Shilstone House website.
The Fenwicks bought a Grade II listed farmhouse on the site and rebuilt it, preserving the most intact wing and reconstructing the remainder, which was ruinous or non-existent. The result looks from the outside like a complete period building, but inside looks like a modern replica (which is what it is).
Some wings are two storey, and others (with lower ceilings) three storey, and the interiors are styled after different periods from Tudor to Georgian. There is an interior courtyard. One of the rooms contains panelling from a Jacobean house that originally stood on the site.
The Shilstone restoration may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is an impressive building.
In the Archive building is a small exhibition which includes pictures of ‘before’.