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  • Writer's pictureDawn Fletcher

Silver, Smoke & Strawberries: A Brief History of Combe Martin

Our village has a rather fascinating history - for such a seaside location, Combe Martin has an unusually industrial heritage.

Three photos showing the inside of a silver mine including tunnels, ladders and the mining wall-face

Silver Mining: 800 Years (in 8 Sentences)

Historical records unveil an intriguing tale: from the late 1200s, the Crown initiated silver and lead mining right in our village, a practice that ebbed and flowed over the centuries.

During the English Civil War between 1646 and 1648, the mines were reopened, despite facing persistent drainage problems. However, the late 1600s saw a turning point as innovative engineers introduced new pumps, marking the most productive era of these mines. Yet, this golden period drew to a close by the end of the 17th century.

In subsequent years, iron ore became the focus of mining activities, but by the late 19th century, the mines ceased operations.

If you are feeling intrepid then, thanks to a team of volunteers, you can visit the silver mines. With a tendency towards claustrophobia it's not somewhere I can honestly say I have visited despite the fact it's free! To find out more click here, you can also join the private Facebook group too.

1930s Onwards

Lime burning flourished here from the eighteenth century up to the 1930s, providing a key material for plaster and decorative paints. You might still stumble upon some of the old lime kilns scattered around the area.

As the nineteenth century gave way to the early twentieth, the focus shifted towards commercial market gardening in the sheltered valleys. The south-facing fields offered the perfect climate for a variety of crops, including potatoes, hemp, and the delicious Combe Martin strawberries, a local delight that continues to be celebrated.

A black and white photo of a group of people picking strawberries in 1890

The photograph to the right captures a moment from the 1890s, showing a group of strawberry pickers hard at work in the village.

If you visit us in June, you're in for a treat at the Annual Strawberry Fair, where you can indulge in these famous strawberries to your heart's content and when paired with fresh Devon Cream it's a heavenly combination!

A sepia tone photo of Combe Martin bay showing old fishing boats and pleasure boats

Of course, given the harbour and sheltered bay, Combe Martin also has a vibrant maritime history with shipbuilding, fishing, and trading playing important parts in the growth of the village over the centuries.

So that's this brief history lesson over... You can also find loads of interesting information on our unique history at the Combe Martin Museum. It's only a 10-minute walk from the site entrance and has lots to see and get involved with.


Come, stay with us, and experience the joys of this unique coastal village. Book your getaway now. We can't wait to welcome you!


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