Lower part of the village, from the harbour wall
Clovelly shown within Devon
|Population||443 - Whole parish (2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Torridge and West Devon|
Clovelly (//) is a small village in the Torridge district of Devon, England. It is a major tourist attraction notable for its extremely steep pedestrianized cobbled main street, donkeys and views over the Bristol Channel. The thick woodland which shelters the village allows many tender plants to flourish. The civil parish includes the island of Lundy. At the 2011 census, the parish population was 443, which was 50 fewer than ten years previously.[n 1]
Clovelly used to be a fishing village and in 1901 had a population of 621. It is a cluster of largely wattle and daub cottages on the sides of a rocky cleft; its steep main street descends 400 feet (120 m) to the pier, too steeply to allow wheeled traffic. Sledges are used for the movement of goods. The quaint street is lined with houses, a small number of shops, a cafe and a public house. All Saints' Church, restored in 1866, is late Norman, containing several monuments to the Cary family, Lords of the Manor for 600 years.
Unusually, the village is still privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the middle of the 13th century, nearly 800 years. The scenery has been captured by artists for its richness of colour, especially in the separately accessed and separated Clovelly Court and along The Hobby, a road cut through the woods and overlooking the sea. The South West Coast Path National Trail runs from the top of the village and the section from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular.
The village has one public house and one hotel.
Each of the buildings along the terraced cobbled street is architecturally listed: more than 50 of these 71 are on the main street itself. Only seven buildings are not listed. At a higher level of build or antiquity, Grade II*, are numbers 16, and 45-47, 53-54, (53 has the house name Crazy Kate's) and 59-61.
The village main street is not accessible by motor vehicle, although there is a road leading to the harbour with parking limited to staying guests of the Red Lion Hotel and locals with permits. Visitors can park at the visitor centre at the end of the B3237 road above the village, where there is a café and shops. Land Rover taxis run in summer between the car park and the harbour.
The estate is run by the Clovelly Estate Company, led by the Hon. John Rous, a descendant of the Hamlyn family who have owned the village, estate and manor house Clovelly Court since 1738. John Rous is the eldest son of the Hon. Mary Rous and Keith Rous, the 5th Earl of Stradbroke.
Notable residents and cultural references
The novelist Charles Kingsley lived here as a child from 1831 to 1836, while his father, Rev. Charles Kingsley served first as senior curate then as rector. Later, in 1855, his novel Westward Ho! did much to stimulate interest in Clovelly and to boost its tourist trade.
The sixteenth-century Carys of Clovelly feature in the historical novel The Grove of Eagles by Winston Graham.
In Susan Coolidge's In the High Valley (1890), part of the Katy series, a walk in to Clovelly is described: "... surely a more extraordinary thing in the way of a street does not exist in the known world. The little village is built on the sides of a crack in a tremendous cliff; the "street" is merely the bottom of the crack, into which the ingenuity of man has fitted a few stones, set slant-wise, with intersecting ridges on which the foot can catch as it goes slipping hopelessly down." 
On Sunday 28 October 1838 twelve fishing vessels with a total of twenty-six men on board left Clovelly harbour for the fishing grounds. Only one vessel and its crew ever returned after a ferocious storm in the Bristol Channel. This event led to the founding of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society early the following year with the object of:
giving relief and assistance to the widows and orphans of fishermen; and of mariners, members of the Society, who lose their lives by storms and shipwreck on any part of the coasts of the United Kingdom, while engaged in their lawful occupations; and also to render necessary assistance to such mariners, soldiers, or other poor persons as suffer shipwreck upon the said coasts.
The charity is active supporting the seafaring community suffering hardship and distress.
Deliveries by sledge
The lack of vehicular access to the main street has led to deliveries being made by sledge. This is not done as a tourist attraction, but as a matter of practicality. Goods are delivered by being pulled down on a sledge from the upper car park, and refuse is collected by being pulled down the hill to a vehicle at the harbour.
The tradition of the Clovelly cannibals
An 18th century chapbook entitled The History of John Gregg and his Family of Robbers and Murderers explains that "Chovaley" (i.e. Clovelly) was once the home of a tribe of cannibalistic bandits. It is alleged that Gregg and his extended family of dozens were eventually tracked down by bloodhounds and were burnt alive in three fires. They were said to have lived in "a cave near the sea-side" and had committed some 1000 murders. Although the story is fiction, writer Daniel Codd observes that a stretch of Clovelly Bay is called "the Devil's Kitchen"—"an apt name indeed if there is any truth in the ghoulish story of the Gregg family".
Clovelly hosts three annual events, each with live folk music, quay kitchens, beer tasting, arts and crafts stalls, local food stalls and cookery demonstrations: the Clovelly Maritime Festival in July, the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast in September, and the Clovelly Herring Festival in November which aims to support local fishermen.
Notes and references
- The ward of Clovelly Bay, which includes a neighbouring civil parish, had a total population in 2011 of 1,627, 11 greater than in 2001
- Key figures for Clovelly Bay Office for National Statistics Retrieved 2008-10-20
- 16 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1104517)". National Heritage List for England.
45-47 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1104522)". National Heritage List for England.
53-54 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1333120)". National Heritage List for England.
59-61 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1333138)". National Heritage List for England.
- Red Lion Hotel
- http://www.clovelly.co.uk Visitors' Website
- James Halliwell-Phillipps (July 1849). Notices of Fugitive Tracts, and Chap-books. Read Books (2013). p.85. ISBN 978-1473309128
- Codd, Daniel (2013). Paranormal Devon. Amberley. p.126. ISBN 978-1848681668
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Sheila Ellis, Down a Cobbled Street: The Story of Clovelly, 1987
- Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, 1855
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clovelly.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Clovelly.|
- World of Boats (EISCA) Collection ~ Clovelly Picarooner, Sunshine
- Clovelly - official site
- Clovelly Parish - Official Website, provided by Parish Council
- Genuki Clovelly
- Picarooner Boat Register
-  - Clovelly Donkeys own website
- - Clovelly donkeys blog