Branscombe is a quiet, placid village in Southwest England, home to a small population of just over 500 residents. It’s a historic parish with an interesting past. Today, its economy relies mostly on tourism and farming, though many retirees from the big city call Branscombe home.
Branscombe is located in the East Devon district of the English county of Devonshire.
It has a privileged position amidst the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with scenic views of Lyme Bay.
The parish also comprises a sizable portion of the world-famous East Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast.
The village dates back to Celtic times, with its original settlement estimated between 2700 and 2000 BC. King Alfred the Great left the village of Branscombe to his youngest son, Aethelweard, in his will. A couple of centuries after that, construction of the local church began. It took more than 200 years to reach its present state.
Through the centuries, it has remained a small but active centre for trade and industry. Branscombe was a major hub for lace production, starting in the 17th century. The Branscombe point is still a very well-recognized style, in fact. The village also had thriving fishing, flint manufacturing and limestone cooking industries.
Despite its humble size and reputation for tranquillity, Branscombe is not without its sights. The following are some of the most interesting things you can do in the area.
The most prominent local attraction in town is probably Branscombe Mouth. This iconic shingle beach is part of the renowned Jurassic Coast, a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more than two centuries, the beach has produced fascinating archaeological and geological specimens.
Dedicated to the Welsh Saint Winifred, this church is thought to date back to the late 10th century. The building blends Norman and medieval styles. The nave is Norman, with a central tower and a three-decker pulpit. A mural made in the memory of Joan Tregarthin stands in the north transept. She was the mother of Nicholas Wadham, founder of Oxford’s Wadham College.
These three historic buildings, property of the National Trust, are built in stone and traditionally thatched. The bakery closed its services in 1987, though it’s been repurposed as a tearoom. The mill is fully operational at the moment, after a recent restoration. The forge actually sells its ironworks to visitors.
One of the most appealing aspects of the village is the South West Coast Path. It’s a favoured starting point for people to walk the coast to Beer or Sidmouth. Locals really enjoy walking the path as well.
I personally know a guy who moved to Branscombe to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. He was a huge fan of online casino gambling, but wanted to settle down somewhere peaceful. Now, he walks the coast path back and forth every other day, and couldn’t be happier.