St Petroc's flag of Devon
Motto of County Council: Auxilio divino (Latin: By divine aid)
Devon within England
Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Region South West England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 4th
6,707 km2 (2,590 sq mi)
Ranked 3rd
6,564 km2 (2,534 sq mi)
Admin HQ Exeter
ISO 3166-2 GB-DEV
ONS code 18
- Total (2010 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
Ranked 11th
170 /km2 (440 /sq mi)
Ranked 12th
Ethnicity 98.7% White British
Devon County Council Logo
Devon County Council
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament
Devon Ceremonial Numbered.png
  1. Exeter
  2. East Devon
  3. Mid Devon
  4. North Devon
  5. Torridge
  6. West Devon
  7. South Hams
  8. Teignbridge
  9. Plymouth (Unitary)
  10. Torbay (Unitary)

Devon (play /ˈdɛvən/) is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.

The county shares borders with Cornwall to the west and Dorset and Somerset to the east. Its southern coast abuts the English Channel and its northern coast the Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea. The name "Devon" derives from the kingdom of Dumnonia, which was home to the tribe of Celtic people who inhabited this area of the southwestern peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43, Dumnonii—possibly meaning "Deep Valley Dwellers" or "Worshippers of the god Dumnonos".

Devon is the fourth largest of the English counties by area and has a population of 1,141,600 making it the 11th largest. The county town is the cathedral city of Exeter. In addition to Devon County Council, the county contains two unitary authorities (independent from Devon County Council's control): the port city of Plymouth and Torbay, a conurbation of seaside resorts. Plymouth is also the largest city in Devon. Much of the county is rural (including national park) land, with a low population density by British standards. It contains Dartmoor 954 km2 (368 sq mi), the largest open space in southern England.[1] It is the only English county to have two separate coastlines – a north and southern coastline.

The county is home to part of England's only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dorset and East Devon Coast, known as the Jurassic Coast for its geology and geographical features. It is also home to Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a dune complex in the north of the county. Along with Cornwall, Devon is known as the "Cornubian massif". This geology gives rise to the landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor, the latter two being national parks. Devon has seaside resorts and historic towns and cities, rural scenery and a mild climate, accounting for the large tourist sector of its economy.




The name Devon derives from the name of the Celtic people who inhabited the southwestern peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman invasion c. AD 50, known as the Dumnonii, thought to mean "deep valley dwellers". In the Brythonic Celtic languages, Devon is known as Dyfnaint (Welsh), Devnent (Breton) and Dewnens (Cornish). (For an account of Celtic Dumnonia see the separate article.)

William Camden, in his 1607 edition of Britannia, described Devon as being one part of an older, wider country that once included Cornwall:

THAT region which, according to the Geographers, is the first of all Britaine, and, growing straiter still and narrower, shooteth out farthest into the West, […] was in antient time inhabited by those Britans whom Solinus called Dunmonii, […] But the Country of this nation is at this day divided into two parts, knowen by later names of Cornwall and Denshire, […]
—William Camden, Britannia.[2]

The term "Devon" is normally used for everyday purposes e.g. "Devon County Council" but "Devonshire" continues to be used in the names of the "Devonshire and Dorset Regiment" and "The Devonshire Association". One erroneous theory is that the "shire" suffix is due to a mistake in the making of the original letters patent for the Duke of Devonshire, resident in Derbyshire. However, there are references to "Defenascire" in Anglo-Saxon texts from before 1000 AD (this would mean "Shire of the Devonians"),[3] which translates to modern English as "Devonshire". The term Devonshire may have originated around the 8th century, when it changed from Dumnonia (Latin) to Defenascir.[4]

Human occupation

Kents Cavern in Torquay had produced human remains from 30–40,000 years ago. Dartmoor is thought to have been occupied by Mesolithic hunter-gatherer peoples from about 6000 BC. The Romans held the area under military occupation for around 350 years. Later, the area began to experience Saxon incursions from the east around 600 AD, firstly as small bands of settlers along the coasts of Lyme Bay and southern estuaries and later as more organised bands pushing in from the east. Devon became a frontier between Brythonic Dumnonia and Anglo-Saxon Wessex, and it was largely absorbed into Wessex by the mid 9th century. The border with Cornwall was set by King Athelstan on the east bank of the River Tamar in 936 AD. Danish raids also occurred sporadically along many coastal parts of Devon between around 800AD and just before the time of the Norman conquest, including at Taintona (a settlement on the Teign estuary) in 1001.

Devon has also featured in most of the civil conflicts in England since the Norman Conquest, including the Wars of the Roses, Perkin Warbeck's rising in 1497, the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, and the English Civil War. The arrival of William of Orange to launch the Glorious Revolution of 1688 took place at Brixham.

Devon has produced tin, copper and other metals from ancient times. Devon's tin miners enjoyed a substantial degree of independence through Devon's Stannary Parliament, which dates back to the 12th century. The last recorded sitting was in 1748.[5]

Economy and industry

Like neighbouring Cornwall to the west, historically Devon has been disadvantaged economically compared to other parts of Southern England, owing to the decline of a number of core industries, notably fishing, mining and farming. Agriculture has been an important industry in Devon since the 19th century.[6] The 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis harmed the farming community severely.[7] Since then some parts of the agricultural industry have begun to diversify and recover, with a strong local food sector and many artisan producers. It is also the headquarters of the UK's largest organic veg box provider - Riverford Organics, based near Totnes and River Cottage based near Axminster. Nonetheless the dairy industry is still suffering from the low prices offered for wholesale milk by major dairies and especially large supermarket chains.

Part of the seafront of Torquay, south Devon, at high tide

The attractive lifestyle of the area is drawing in new industries which are not heavily dependent upon geographical location[citation needed]; Dartmoor, for instance, has recently seen a significant rise in the percentage of its inhabitants involved in the financial services sector. In 2003, the Met Office, the UK's national and international weather service, moved to Exeter and employs around 1,000 people.[citation needed].

Since the rise of seaside resorts with the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, Devon's economy has been heavily reliant on tourism. The county's economy followed the declining trend of British seaside resorts since the mid-20th century, but with some recent revival and regeneration of its resorts, particularly focused around camping; sports such as surfing, cycling, sailing and heritage. This revival has been aided by the designation of much of Devon's countryside and coastline as the Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, and the Jurassic Coast and Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Sites. In 2004 the county's tourist revenue was £1.2 billion..[8] More successful visitor attractions in recent years have tended to target higher spending tourists, particularly focusing around the food and drink sector and watersports. Examples such as the Venus Cafes; Damien Hirst's restaurant in Ilfracombe; Burgh Island; surfing and camping around Croyde and Woolacombe and sailing around Salcombe have all proved a big draw in recent years.

Incomes vary significantly across the county, with parts of Torridge and Torbay having among the lowest earnings in the whole of the UK. Incomes in much of the South Hams and in villages surrounding Exeter and Plymouth are by contrast above the national average. Likewise levels of deprivation tend to be highest in urban areas such as Torbay, Plymouth, plus parts of Exeter and Ilfracombe. They are lowest in the rural fringes of big settlements, easily commutable and leafy, such as Ivybridge, Woodbury, Kenton and Braunton.

Geography and geology

Heathland at Woodbury Common in south east Devon

A sharp geological dividing line cuts across Devon roughly to the west of Tiverton and Exeter and ending around Newton Abbot and Torquay. This forms part of the Tees/Exe line dividing Britain from the lowlands (sedimentary rocks) that are predominant to the east of the line and the higher land (igneous and metamorphic rocks) which dominates to the west.

The principal geological formations of Devon are the Devonian (in north Devon, south west Devon and extending into Cornwall); the Culm Measures (north western Devon also extending into north Cornwall); and the granite intrusion of Dartmoor in central Devon, part of the Cornubian batholith. There are small remains of pre-Devonian rocks on the south Devon coast.[9]

Devon gave its name to a geological period: the Devonian period, so named because of the abundance of the grey limestone found there. It was Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick who originally named the Devonian Period following research they carried out in Devon, and in particular, Torbay. They found some unusual marine fossils in the limestone at Lummaton Quarry and it was this discovery that led to the time period becoming known globally as the Devonian.

Devon's second major rock system[10] is the Culm Measures, a geological formation of the Carboniferous period that occurs principally in Devon and Cornwall. The measures are so called either from the occasional presence of a soft, sooty coal, which is known in Devon as culm, or from the contortions commonly found in the beds.[11] This formation stretches from Bideford to Bude in Cornwall, and contributes to a gentler, greener, more rounded landscape. It is also found on the western, north and eastern borders of Dartmoor.

Ilfracombe, on the coast of North Devon.

The whole of central Devon is occupied by the largest area of igneous rock in South West England, Dartmoor.

The sedimentary rocks in more eastern parts of the county include Permian and Triassic sandstones (giving rise to Devon's well known fertile red soils); Bunter pebble beds around Budleigh Salterton and Woodbury Common and Jurassic rocks in the easternmost parts of Devon. Smaller deposits of even newer rocks also exist, such as Cretaceous chalk cliffs at Beer head and gravels on Haldon, plus Eocene and Oligocene ball clay and lignite deposits in the Bovey Basin, formed around 50m years ago under tropical forest conditions.

Devon is the only county in England to have two separate coastlines; the South West Coast Path runs along the entire length of both, around 65% of which is named as Heritage Coast.[12] Devon has more mileage of road than any other county in England: before the changes to counties in 1974 it was the largest by area of the counties not divided into two or three parts. (Its acreage was until 1974 1,658,288: only exceeded by the West Riding of Yorkshire.)[13] The islands of Lundy and Eddystone are also in Devon.

Inland, the Dartmoor National Park lies wholly in Devon, and the Exmoor National Park lies in both Devon and Somerset. Apart from these areas of high moorland the county has attractive rolling rural scenery and villages with thatched cob cottages. All these features make Devon a popular holiday destination.

In South Devon the landscape consists of rolling hills dotted with small towns, such as Dartmouth, Ivybridge, Kingsbridge, Salcombe, and Totnes. The towns of Torquay and Paignton are the principal seaside resorts on the south coast. East Devon has the first seaside resort to be developed in the county, Exmouth and the more upmarket Georgian town of Sidmouth, headquarters of the East Devon District Council. Exmouth marks the western end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Another notable feature is the coastal railway line between Newton Abbot and the Exe Estuary: the red sandstone cliffs and sea views are very dramatic and in the resorts railway line and beaches are very near.

North Devon is very rural with few major towns except Barnstaple, Great Torrington, Bideford and Ilfracombe. Devon's Exmoor coast has the highest cliffs in southern Britain, culminating in the Great Hangman, a 318 m (1043 ft) "hog's-back" hill with an 250 m (820 ft) cliff-face, located near Combe Martin Bay.[14] Its sister cliff is the 218 m (716 ft) Little Hangman, which marks the western edge of coastal Exmoor. One of the features of the North Devon coast is that Bideford Bay and the Hartland Point peninsula are both west-facing, Atlantic facing coastlines; so that a combination of an off-shore (east) wind and an Atlantic swell produce excellent surfing conditions. The beaches of Bideford Bay (Woolacombe, Saunton, Westward Ho! and Croyde), along with parts of North Cornwall and South Wales, are the main centres of surfing in Britain.


Devon generally has a mild climate, heavily influenced by the North Atlantic Drift. In winter snow is relatively uncommon away from high land, although there are exceptions, such as the snowfall of February 2009, and of December 2010. The county receives warm summers with occasional hot spells and cool rainy periods. Winters are generally mild and the county often experiences some of the mildest winters in the world for its latitude along with Brittany and Vancouver,Canada with average maximum temperatures in January approaching 10 degrees C. Rainfall varies significantly across the county ranging from over 2000 mm (80 inches)on parts of Dartmoor, to around 750 mm (30 inches)along the coast in southeastern parts of Devon and around Exeter (Rain shadow). Sunshine amounts also vary massively with the moors generally being very cloudy, but the southeastern coast from Salcombe to Exmouth one of the sunniest parts of the UK. In summer east, or southeasterly winds mean the area around Saunton and Croyde often records among the highest temperatures in Britain. Similarly with west, or southwesterly winds and high pressure the area around Torbay and Teignmouth will often be very warm with long sunny spells due to shelter by high ground (Foehn wind).

Climate data for Devon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 4
[citation needed]
Fields in south Devon after a snowfall.


Ponies grazing on Exmoor near Brendon, North Devon

The variety of habitats means that there is a wide range of wildlife (see Dartmoor wildlife, for example). A popular challenge among birders is to find over 100 species in the county in a day. The county's wildlife is protected by several wildlife charities such as the Devon Wildlife Trust, a charity which looks after 40 nature reserves. The Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society (DBWPS) is a county bird society with a long and distinguished history dating back to 1928. It is dedicated to the study and conservation of wild birds looks after several areas, such as Beesands Ley. There is also the RSPB, which has reserves in the county, as well as English Nature, who look after several reserves such as Dawlish Warren. The botany of the county is very diverse and includes some rare species not found elsewhere in the British Isles other than Cornwall. Botanical reports begin in the 17th century and there is a Flora Devoniensis by Jones and Kingston in 1829, and a Flora of Devon in 1939 by Keble Martin and Fraser.[15][16] There is a general account by W. P. Hiern and others in The Victoria History of the County of Devon, vol. 1 (1906); pp. 55–130, with map. Devon is divided into two Watsonian vice-counties: north and south, the boundary being an irregular line approximately across the higher part of Dartmoor and then along the canal eastwards.

Rising temperatures have led to Devon becoming the first place in modern Britain to cultivate olives commercially.[17]

Politics and administration

The administrative centre of Devon is the city of Exeter. The largest city in Devon, Plymouth, and the conurbation of Torbay (including Torquay, Paignton and Brixham) have been unitary authorities since 1998, separate from the remainder of Devon which is administered by Devon County Council for the purposes of local government.

Devon County Council is controlled by the Conservatives, and the political representation of its 62 councillors are: 41 Conservatives, 14 Liberal Democrats, four Labour, two Independents and one Green.[18] At a national level, Devon has seven Conservative MPs, two Liberal Democrat MPs, and two Labour MPs.

In December 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government referred Exeter City Council's bid to become a Unitary Council to the Boundary Committee for England, as they felt the application did not meet all their strict criteria. The Boundary Committee was asked to look at the feasibility of a unitary Exeter in the context of examining options for unitary arrangements in the wider Devon county area, and reported back in July 2008 recommending a "unitary Devon" (excluding Plymouth and Torbay), with a second option of a "unitary Exeter & Exmouth" (combined) and a unitary "rest of Devon". These proposals were put out to consultation until September 2008 and the Committee was expected to make final recommendations to the Secretary of State by the end of the year. As a result of a number of legal challenges to the process and also dissatisfaction on the part of the Secretary of State with the manner in which the Boundary Committee is assessing proposals, it now looks likely that a recommendation will not be forthcoming until March or April 2009.[19]


Historically Devon was divided into 32 hundreds:[20] Axminster, Bampton, Black Torrington, Braunton, Cliston, Coleridge, Colyton, Crediton, East Budleigh, Ermington, Exminster, Fremington, Halberton, Hartland, Hayridge, Haytor, Hemyock, Lifton, North Tawton and Winkleigh, Ottery, Plympton, Roborough, Shebbear, Shirwell, South Molton, Stanborough, Tavistock, Teignbridge, Tiverton, West Budleigh, Witheridge, and Wonford.

Cities, towns and villages

The inner harbour, Brixham, south Devon, at low tide

The main settlements in Devon are the cities of Plymouth, a historic port now administratively independent, Exeter, the county town, and Torbay, the county's tourist centre. Devon's coast is lined with tourist resorts, many of which grew rapidly with the arrival of the railways in the 19th century. Examples include Dawlish, Exmouth and Sidmouth on the south coast, and Ilfracombe and Lynmouth on the north. The Torbay conurbation of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham on the south coast is now administratively independent of the county. Rural market towns in the county include Barnstaple, Bideford, Honiton, Newton Abbot, Okehampton, Tavistock, Totnes and Tiverton.

The boundary with Cornwall has not always been on the River Tamar as at present: until the late 19th century a few parishes in the Torpoint area were in Devon and five parishes now in north-east Cornwall were in Devon until 1974. (However for ecclesiastical purposes these were nevertheless in the Archdeaconry of Cornwall and in 1876 became part of the Diocese of Truro.)


Ancient and medieval history

Celtic and Roman practices were the first religions in Devon, although in the first centuries AD, Christianity was introduced to Devon. In the Sub-Roman period the church in the British Isles was characterised by some differences in practice from the Latin Christianity of the continent of Europe and is known as Celtic Christianity;[21] however it was always in communion with the wider Roman Catholic Church. Many Cornish saints are commemorated also in Devon in legends, churches and placenames. Western Christianity came to Devon when it was over a long period incorporated into the kingdom of Wessex and the jurisdiction of the bishop of Wessex. Saint Petroc is said to have passed through Devon, where ancient dedications to him are even more numerous than in Cornwall: a probable seventeen (plus Timberscombe just over the border in Somerset), compared to Cornwall's five. The position of churches bearing his name, including one within the old Roman walls of Exeter (Karesk), are nearly always near the coast reminding us that in those days travelling was done mainly by sea. The Devonian villages of Petrockstowe and Newton St Petroc are also named after Saint Petroc and the flag of Devon is dedicated to him.

The history of Christianity in the South West of England remains to some degree obscure. Parts of the historic county of Devon formed part of the diocese of Wessex, while nothing is known of the church organisation of the Celtic areas. About 703 Devon and Cornwall were included in the separate diocese of Sherborne and in 900 this was again divided into two, the Devon bishop having from 905 his seat at Tawton (now Bishop's Tawton) and from 912 at Crediton, birthplace of St Boniface. Lyfing became Bishop of Crediton in 1027 and shortly afterwards became Bishop of Cornwall.

The two dioceses of Crediton and Cornwall, covering Devon and Cornwall, were permanently united under Edward the Confessor by Lyfing's successor Bishop Leofric, hitherto Bishop of Crediton, who became first Bishop of Exeter under Edward the Confessor, which was established as his cathedral city in 1050. At first, the abbey church of St Mary and St Peter, founded by Athelstan in 932 and rebuilt in 1019, served as the cathedral.

Later history

In 1549, the Prayer Book Rebellion caused the deaths of thousands of people from Devon and Cornwall. During the English Reformation, churches in Devon officially became affiliated with the Church of England. The Methodism of John Wesley proved to be very popular with the working classes in Devon in the 19th century. Methodist chapels became important social centres, with male voice choirs and other church-affiliated groups playing a central role in the social lives of working class Devonians. Methodism still plays a large part in the religious life of Devon today, although the county has shared in the post-World War II decline in British religious feeling.

The Diocese of Exeter remains the Anglican diocese including the whole of Devon. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth was established in the mid 19th century.[22]


Despite its small Jewish population, Devon is also noted for containing two of Britain's oldest synagogues, located in Plymouth and Exeter, built in 1762 and 1763 respectively.


Coat of arms

The coat of arms of Devon County Council

There was no established coat of arms for the county until 1926: the arms of the City of Exeter were often used to represent Devon, for instance in the badge of the Devonshire Regiment. During the forming of a county council by the Local Government Act 1888 adoption of a common seal was required. The seal contained three shields depicting the arms of Exeter along with those of the first chairman and vice-chairman of the council (Lord Clinton and the Earl of Morley).[23]

On 11 October 1926, the county council received a grant of arms from the College of Arms. The main part of the shield displays a red crowned lion on a silver field, the arms of Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall. The chief or upper portion of the shield depicts an ancient ship on wavers, for Devon's seafaring traditions. The Latin motto adopted was Auxilio Divino (by Divine aid), that of Sir Francis Drake. The 1926 grant was of arms alone. On 6 March 1962 a further grant of crest and supporters was obtained. The crest is the head of a Dartmoor Pony rising from a "Naval Crown". This distinctive form of crown is formed from the sails and sterns of ships, and is associated with the Royal Navy. The supporters are a Devon bull and a sea lion.[24][25]

The County Council adopted a "ship silhouette" logo after the 1974 reorganisation, adapted from the ship emblem on the coat of arms, but following the loss in 1998 of Plymouth and Torbay re-adopted the coat of arms. In April 2006 the council unveiled a new logo which was to be used in most everyday applications, though the coat of arms will continue to be used for "various civic purposes".[26][27]


Devon also has its own flag which has been dedicated to Saint Petroc, a local saint with dedications throughout Devon and neighbouring counties. The flag was adopted in 2003 after a competition run by BBC Radio Devon.[28] The winning design was created by website contributor Ryan Sealey, and won 49% of the votes cast. The colours of the flag are those popularly identified with Devon, for example, the colours of Exeter University, the rugby union team, and the Green and White flag flown by the first Viscount Exmouth at the Bombardment of Algiers (now on view at the Teign Valley Museum), as well as one of the county's football teams, Plymouth Argyle. On 17 October 2006, the flag was hoisted for the first time outside County Hall in Exeter to mark Local Democracy Week, receiving official recognition from the county council.[29]

Place names and customs

The beach at Westward Ho!, North Devon, looking north towards the Taw and the Torridge estuaries

Devon's place names include many with the endings "coombe/combe" and "tor" – Coombe being the Brythonic word for "valley" or hollow (cf Welsh 'cwm') whilst tor derives from a number of Celtic loan-words in English (Old Welsh twrr and Scots Gaelic tòrr) and is used as a name for the formations of rocks found on the moorlands. Its frequency is greatest in Devon, where it is the second most common place name component (after 'ton', derived from the Old English tun meaning enclosure, farmstead, farm or village).

Devon has a variety of festivals and traditional practices, including the traditional orchard-visiting Wassail in Whimple every 17 January and the carrying of flaming tar barrels in Ottery St. Mary, where people who have lived in Ottery for long enough are called upon to celebrate Bonfire Night by running through the village (and the gathered crowds) with flaming barrels of tar on their backs.[30] Berry Pomeroy still celebrates "Queen's Day" for Elizabeth I.


Devon has a mostly comprehensive education system. There are 37 state and 23 independent secondary schools. There are three tertiary (FE) colleges and an agricultural college (Bicton College, near Budleigh Salterton). Torbay has 8 state (with 3 grammar schools) and 3 independent secondary schools, and Plymouth has 17 state (with 3 grammar schools – two female and one male) and one independent school, Plymouth College. East Devon and Teignbridge have the largest school populations, with West Devon the smallest (with only two schools). Only one school in Exeter, Mid Devon, Torridge and North Devon have a sixth form – the schools in other districts mostly have sixth forms, with all schools in West Devon and East Devon having a sixth form. The county also plays host to two major British universities, the University of Exeter (split between the Streatham Campus and St Luke's Campus both in Exeter and a campus in Cornwall); in Plymouth the University of Plymouth, the fourth largest university in Britain is present, along with the Marjon's College to the city's north . Both the universities of Exeter and Plymouth have co-formed the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry which has bases in Exeter and Plymouth. There is also Schumacher College.


The county has given its name to a number of culinary specialities. The Devonshire cream tea, involving scones, jam and clotted cream, is thought to have originated in Devon (though claims have also been made for neighbouring counties); in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, it is known as a "Devonshire tea".[31][32][33] In Australia, Devon is a name for luncheon meat (processed ham).

In October 2008, Devon was awarded Fairtrade County status by the Fairtrade Foundation.


Devon has been home to a number of customs, such as its own form of wrestling. As recently as the 19th century, a crowd of 17,000 at Devonport, near Plymouth, attended a match between the champions of Devon and Cornwall. Another Devon sport was outhurling which was played in some regions until the 20th century (e.g. 1922, at Great Torrington). Other ancient customs which survive include Dartmoor step dancing, and "Crying The Neck".

Devon has three professional football teams, based in each of its three most populous towns and cities. In the 2011/2012 football season, Exeter City F.C. will compete in Football League One, and Torquay United F.C. and Plymouth Argyle F.C. in Football League Two. Plymouth's best performance came in 1987 when they finished seventh in the Football League Second Division, while Torquay and Exeter have never progressed beyond the third tier of the league. The county's biggest non-league club is Tiverton Town F.C. which competes in the Southern Football League Division One South & West.

Rugby Union is popular in Devon with two teams – Exeter Chiefs play in the Aviva Premiership and Plymouth Albion who are, as of 2011, in the RFU Championship. In basketball, Plymouth Raiders play in the British Basketball League. Tamar Valley Cannons, also based in Plymouth, are Devon's only other representatives in the National Leagues. Motorcycle speedway is also supported in the county, with both the Exeter Falcons and Plymouth Devils succeeding in the National Leagues in recent years.

There are four rugby league teams in Devon. Plymouth Titans, Exeter Centurions, Devon Sharks from Torquay and East Devon Eagles from Exmouth. They all play in the Rugby League Conference.

Devon also boasts a field hockey club who play in the National Premier League, the University of Exeter Hockey Club

Horse Racing, particularly point to point racing and National Hunt Racing is also popular in the county, with two National Hunt racecourses (Exeter and Newton Abbot), and numerous point to point courses. There are also many successful professional racehorse trainers based in Devon.

The county is represented in cricket by Devon County Cricket Club, who play at a Minor counties level.


Devon is known for its mariners, such as Sir Francis Drake, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Francis Chichester. Henry Every, described as the most notorious pirate of the late 17th century, was probably born in the village of Newton Ferrers.[34] Thomas Morton (1576–1647?) was an avid Elizabethan outdoorsman probably born in Devon who became an attorney for The Council For New England, and built the New England fur-trading-plantation called Ma-Re Mount or Merrymount around a West Country-style Maypole, much to the displeasure of Pilgrim and Puritan colonists. Morton wrote a 1637 book New English Canaan about his experiences, partly in verse, and may have thereby become America's first poet to write in English.[35] Another famous mariner and Devonian was Robert Falcon Scott, the leader of the unfortunate Terra Nova Expedition to reach the geographical South Pole.[36] The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the crime writer Agatha Christie and the poet Ted Hughes lived in Devon (his funeral and cremation were held there). The painter and founder of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, was born in Devon.

The actor Matthew Goode was raised in Devon, and Bradley James, also an actor, was born there. The singer Joss Stone was brought up in Devon and frontman Chris Martin from the English rock group Coldplay was born there. Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Christopher Wolstenholme from the English group Muse all grew up in Devon and formed the band there. Dave Hill of pop band Slade was born in Flete House which is in the South Hams district of Devon. Another famous Devonian is the model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who was born in Plymouth and raised in Tavistock.

Trevor Francis, former Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City professional footballer was born and brought up in Plymouth. Swimmer Sharron Davies[37] was born in Plymouth. Peter Cook the satirist, writer and comedian was born in Torquay, Devon. Leicester Tigers and British Lions Rugby player Julian White MBE was born and raised in Devon and now farms a herd of pedigree South Devon beef cattle. The dog breeder John "Jack" Russell was also from Devon. Jane McGrath, who married Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath was born in Paignton, her long battle with and subsequent death from breast cancer inspired the formation of the McGrath Foundation, which is one of Australia's leading charities.

See also


  1. ^ England: Dartmoor retrieved 13 May 2009
  2. ^ "William Camden, Britannia (1607) with an English translation by Philemon Holland – Danmonii". The University of Birmingham. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  3. ^ "Manuscript A: The Parker Chronicle". Retrieved 29 June 2007. 
  4. ^ Davies, Norman (2000). The Isles: A History. p. 207. ISBN 0333692837. 
  5. ^ "Devon's Mining History and Stannary parliament". Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  6. ^ [1], South West Chamber of Rural Enterprise
  7. ^ In Devon, the county council estimated that 1,200 jobs would be lost in agriculture and ancillary rural industriesHansard, 25 April 2001
  8. ^ Devon County Council, 2005. Tourism trends in Devon.
  9. ^ Edmonds, E. A., et al. (1975) South-West England; based on previous editions by H. Dewey (British Geological Survey UK Regional Geology Guide series no. 17, 4th ed.) London: HMSO ISBN 0-11-880713-7
  10. ^ "Devon's Rocks – A Geological Guide". Devon County Council. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Edmonds, E. A.; McKeown, M. C.; Williams, M. (1975). "Carboniferous Rocks". South-West England. British Regional Geology. Dewey, H. (4th ed.). London: HMSO/British Geological Survey. p. 34. ISBN 0118807137. 
  12. ^ Dewey, Henry (1948) British Regional Geology: South West England, 2nd ed. London: H.M.S.O.
  13. ^ Whitaker's Almanack, 1972; p. 631
  14. ^ National Park, National Park Facts |accessdate=10 May 2009
  15. ^ Jones, John Pike & Kingston, J. F. (1829) Flora Devoniensis. 2 pts, in 1 vol. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green
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Further reading

  • Oliver, George (1846) Monasticon Dioecesis Exoniensis: being a collection of records and instruments illustrating the ancient conventual, collegiate, and eleemosynary foundations, in the Counties of Cornwall and Devon, with historical notices, and a supplement, comprising a list of the dedications of churches in the Diocese, an amended edition of the taxation of Pope Nicholas, and an abstract of the Chantry Rolls [with supplement and index]. Exeter: P. A. Hannaford, 1846, 1854, 1889
  • Pevsner, N. (1952) North Devon and South Devon (Buildings of England). 2 vols. Penguin Books
  • Stabb, John Some Old Devon Churches: their rood screens, pulpits, fonts, etc.. 3 vols. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1908, 1911, 1916

External links

Coordinates: 50°42′N 3°48′W / 50.7°N 3.8°W / 50.7; -3.8

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