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40 interesting Devon facts for kids

40 interesting Devon facts for kids

Devon isn’t just about beaches and cream teas. There are plenty of amazing Devon facts that you can share with your kids to inspire them ahead of your family holidays and days out here.

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About Devon

Smeaton's Tower lighthouse on The Hoe in Plymouth
Smeaton’s Tower – the moving lighthouse in Plymouth

Devon is the third largest county in England and has a population of 1,232,660 people (Statista). That’s one seventh of the population of Greater London.

Devon is famous for is beautiful coast, countryside and national parks, but also being the birthplace of historic and modern personalities. You can find out more about them in the facts below.

Of course, you can’t mention Devon without thinking about food. Devon cream teas – with the cream spread liberally on your scone before being artistically topped with jam – are a staple in local cafes.

You can also find some very tempting varieties of Devon ice cream at dessert stops, restaurants and ice cream vans around the county.

Devon is also a haven for wildlife. Otters can be found in rivers here, although they are very shy. If you want to see them a good place to visit is the Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh.

Dartmoor ponies are also a favourite creature to spot on the moorlands. On the coast you can see seals, dolphins and migrating birds from around the world.

If you want to find our more about Devon’s cities and towns take a look at our guides to places to visit in Devon.

Now, it’s time for some fun Devon facts…

Facts about Devon

Here are our favourite facts about famous Devon people, places, food, history and geography:

Facts about Devon people 

Bust of Agatha Christie in Torquay
Famous Devonian Agatha Christie

1. J.K. Rowling is an alumni of Exeter University.

2. Chris Martin, the front man of Coldplay, was born in Exeter.

3. Famous naval figures Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh were born in Devon you can see a replica of Drake’s ship The Golden Hind in Brixham

4. Swimmer Sharron Davies and diver Tom Daley were born in Plymouth.

5. Crime writer Agatha Christie was born in Torquay. She wrote 82 detective novels and had a holiday home at Greenway near Brixham.

6. Exeter Chiefs wing Jodie Ounsley has taken on the role of Fury in the 2024 BBC TV series Gladiators.

Find out more about the homes of famous Devon people you van visit.

Geography facts

Clear blue sea on the South Devon coast meets the honeycombed rocks of the English Riviera
Elberry Cove on the English Riviera

7. Devon has three areas of outstanding natural beauty: South Devon, East Devon and the Blackdown Hills.

8. It is also the only English county to have two separated coastlines, one on the English Channel in the South and the Atlantic and Bristol Channel in the North.

9. Devon has more road than any other county in England – 8,000 miles in fact.

10. There are two national parks in Devon: Dartmoor and Exmoor, which it shares with Somerset.

11. The first bridge at Tamar, the Royal Albert Bridge, which connects Devon to Cornwall by rail was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was completed in 1857. The Tamar Bridge for vehicles was opened in 1961 to replace the Saltash car ferry.

Devon food and drink facts

English Cream tea scene with scones, Devonshire style, with a bite taken out.
Cream first, jam second – the Devon way to eat scones

12. The earliest known record for the pasty recipe was not found in Cornwall. It was in fact uncovered in a book written in Plymouth in 1510.

13. Plymouth is home to the oldest bakery in the world – Jacka Bakery. It made biscuits that went with the Pilgrims to America in 1620.

14. Plymouth is home to the oldest working gin distillery in the world, Plymouth Gin.

15. Devon is home to several celebrity chefs including Micheal Caines, Mitch Tonks and Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall.

If you’d like a go at cooking up some West Country dishes, here’s some Devon recipes to try. I hope you have a sweet tooth!

Fun facts about Devon places

A la Ronde National Trust 16-sided house
A La Ronde in East Devon

16. Devon is home to the country’s only 16-sided house A La Ronde, a National Trust property near Exmouth in East Devon.

17. Torbay Picture House is believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Europe. It opened in 1914.

18. Canonteign Falls in the Teign Valley in Dartmoor is England’s highest manmade waterfall

19. Parliament Street in Exeter is the narrowest street in the world. At its slimmest point it is about 64cm and at its widest it is 1m 22cm.

20. Lydford Gorge in Mid-Devon is the deepest gorge in South West England.

21. Westward Ho! near Barnstaple is the only place in the UK to have an exclamation mark in its name. It was also named after a novel by Charles Kingsley to bring in tourism.

22. Exmouth is said to be the oldest beach resort in Britain, attracting visitors since the 18th Century. It’s promenade is a whopping two miles long.

23. The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is the UK’s largest aquarium.

24. Puffins outnumber people by 15 to one on the Devon island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel.

25. Castle Drogo in West Devon is the UK’s newest castle. It was built between 1911 and 1931 for Julius Drewe, self-made food retailing millionaire.

26. The Box in Plymouth has a Zoology collection including around 100,000 insects, 4,000 jars of preserved marine creatures, and hundreds of birds, mammals, skeletons, eggs, shells, corals. That’s not to mention a life-sized wooly mammoth made by the same prop designers who crafted the Star Wars Chewbacca costume.

27. Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse can be found on Plymouth Hoe, but it once stood 14 miles away on Eddystone Reef. It’s curved tree trunk-like design was ground-breaking, so when it was replaced in the 19th Century it was moved brick by brick to the mainland.

Devon history facts

Wall mural of the last three witches to be executed in Devon
A mural depicting Temperance Lloyd, Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles – the last three women to be executed for witchcraft in England

28. In 1927 a piece of a jaw bone including three teeth was discovered in Kents Cavern. It was radio-carbon dated at 41,000 to 44,000 years old, making it the oldest find of a modern human in North-West Europe.

29. The last English executions for witchcraft happened in Exeter in 1682 and 1685.

30. Stone quarried from Beer in Devon was used to build St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

31. The Mayflower’s last stop in England before crossing the Atlantic to America was Plymouth. Just before this it stopped in Dartmouth for repairs.

32. Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth is said to be where Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip fell in love. They were aged 13 and 18 respectively. They had met once before at a royal wedding.

33. Dartmouth was the home town of the inventor of the first steam engine. Thomas Newcomen built the engine in 1720 to pump water out of mines. You can see one at Dartmouth Visitor Centre.

34. The Jack Russell was first bred in Dartmouth as a hunting dog.

Fancy testing your knowledge? Take our Devon quiz for kids!

Stage, screen and literature

35. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author behind the literary detective Sherlock Holmes, began writing Hound of the Baskervilles while staying at the Duchy Hotel in Princetown. The hotel is now the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre.

36. The CBBC post-World War II school drama Malory Towers is filmed at Hartland Abbey in North Devon.

37. The 2011 film We Bought A Zoo starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson is based on the real life story of Benjamin Mee who bought Dartmoor Zoo in 2006.

38. Former Children’s Laureate author Michael Morpurgo wrote War Horse based on stories about Devon horses bought by the Army and taken to World War I battlefields. The book was turned into an award-winning Broadway show and a Steven Spielberg film.

39. Christopher Robin Milne, the son of Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne and the inspiration for Christopher Robin in the books, ran the Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth.

40. Pop star Robbie Williams filmed the video for his Angels single on Staunton Sands.

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Planning a holiday or day out in Devon? Share some of our Devon facts with your kids before you set off. We also have a quiz and free Devon printables on our website #Devon #devonwithkids #England #facts #fun #holiday #familytravel #tips #UK #travel #quiz #daysout #people #food #places #history

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