Honiton — Devon, England
Honiton is a town and a civil parish in Devon, bordering an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty both to the south and to the north where the Blackdown Hills lie, insuring the restriction of new development to this quaint town in this historic area.
This once Neolithic setting, which is mostly agricultural today, grew along the ancient Fosse Way, the Roman Road that emanated from Exeter. Honiton is an excellent stopping place to explore the lovely countryside where some footpaths and trails lead to one of the many Iron Age hillforts. During excavation of Hembury Castle, this ancient hillfort evidenced more than the Neolithic era, as traces of Roman occupation also are evident. Or explore Blackbury Camp hillfort where one can see striking ramparts that are presently in the midst of woodland. The pacific atmosphere is made more inviting by its proximity to both Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, all within easy reach of Honiton's location on the River Otter. Additionally, Honiton is a short distance from East Devon's popular beaches on the World Heritage and Jurassic Coastlines.
The picturesque town of Honiton is well-known for its 17th century cottage trade of lace making, introduced by Flemish immigrants. Honiton lace became renowned and the flourishing industry lasted several centuries; and was patronized by the royalty, with Queen Victoria ordering Honiton Lace for her wedding gown. Somewhat later the industry diminished, being overtaken by machine lace manufacture, thereby losing the charm and delicate touch of the handmade lace. However, the original lace is still sought as a collector's item, with the principal collection on exhibit in the town's Allhallow's Museum of Lace and Local Antiquities; appropriately, this building is presumed to be the oldest in the town, built in the 13th century this Grade II listed building was once a Chapel.
In addition to lace making, a pottery industry grew, which achieved its greatest fame primarily through techniques introduced by Charles Collard, who apprenticed at the Aller Vale Art Pottery in Honiton during the 19th century. Collard started his own business in Poole, eventually returning to Honiton where he purchased the existing pottery manufacturing in the town. Today Honiton Pottery is a collectible item illustrating Collard's experimental methods and designs.
With two world-wide renowned industries, it is no wonder that the Honiton Street Market, held twice weekly attracts the antique trade. In recent years Honiton has become a well-known main centre for antiques and antiquarian books; with antique dealers and bargain hunters from all over the world coming to Honiton to visit antique shops and to attend one of the many auctions. The Honiton Street Market also holds annual events, one of which features music and visual arts exhibitions; a carnival with floats from the area, held over a two week period with a Grand Evening Carnival finale. Whether old or new, Honiton has something for everyone, from the golf course, agricultural shows, to the Branscombe Air Show. In keeping with the antiquity of the town, the ancient Hot Pennies Ceremony has been incorporated into one of the present day fairs; dating back to the 13th Century it has roots in the practice of landed gentry throwing hot pennies from windows to local peasants, for the purpose of encouraging people to travel to the town from the surrounding area to attend a subsequent fair.
There is also a museum just outside of the town at Dunkeswell airfield, which was a naval air base for the United States Navy during World War II built for the Americans by the British. Dunkeswell Memorial Museum is dedicated to the Americans and Royal Air Force personnel who served there. Flights on vintage aircraft are offered to the public. Located on the plateau of the Blackdown Hills, flying in open cockpits, or in whichever vintage plane that is available for public use, is the ultimate challenge for those who relish such sport. Most important is that the museum is a place of discovery that recounts the special ways that the Americans and the British serviceman interacted during the war.Where is Honiton?
Honiton is loacted in the southwest of England near the A30 and A35 intersection.