Peter H’s Brixham History Walk – Saturday 3rd July


On a damp Saturday morning, 19 Walkers gathered in Brixham to learn more about the port’s heritage. If we were on this spot a few hundred years ago we would be standing in mud & water!  Walkers learned how Brixham received its first lifeboat, gifted by the people of Exeter, after the Great storm of 1866 when over a hundred lives were lost.

From the town centre we ascended Cavern Hill, noticing the mural on the end elevation of the building. At the entrance to the Cavern I gave some information about the caves of Brixham, this one having been excavated by William Pengelly, who also excavated Kent’s Cavern in Torquay. We then proceeded along Windmill Hill to view the remains, illustrated in this walk gallery.

We then made our way to St Mary’s Church for a coffee stop whilst gleaning more information on Fish Town and Cow Town, along with history of The Church. We then visited The Memorial for those who perished in The Great Storm, from where we took the Lanes to St Mary’s Bay, formerly called Mudstone, taking the Coast path towards Berry Head.

We learnt more about Napoleon, who was held prisoner on board HMS Bellerophon, off Brixham. Carrying on along the path we arrived at Berry Head, where we had our lunch.

We saw the lighthouse, built in 1906 by Trinity House as part of a string of beacons along the coast and one of few still active today.  We did hope to see Dolphins and mused that the first to spot one would buy the drinks. No wonder we didn’t see any.

After we descended through the woods to the Berry Head Hotel. The building of which  commenced in 1803 by the Board of Ordinance as a military hospital in support of the three Napoleonic war forts on Berry Head. In 1823, being surplus to requirements of the military, it was leased to its builder Roger Hyne. It’s most famous occupant was the Reverend Henry Francis Lyte the incumbent of All-Saints Church, Brixham, who penned, ‘Praise my soul the King of Heaven’ and his most famous ‘Abide with Me‘ which he actually wrote in the grounds of the house, just prior to his death in September 1847. We also found the childhood home of Labour PM, James Callaghan.

We proceeded to the famous Breakwater Beach, taking the walkway past The Marina. This is the spot where Prince William of Orange landed in 1688 to begin his famous 350 mile walk to London – now a long distance event called ‘The Orange Way’ –  freeing the country from Catholic oppression and becoming King WIlliam III. His arrival commemorated of course by his statue on the harbourside which we passed on our return to the town.

History abounds in Brixham and it’s surrounds, but perhaps another walk for another day. Today the weather stayed dry with some sunshine and a great walk was enjoyed by all.

Peter H