Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Five fascinating facts about Brewster and Budleigh Salterton (1)

Where on earth are they?
Brewster is an historic sea captains' town of just over 10,000 people located on the sheltered bay side of Cape Cod, in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. It apparently grows to an amazing 25,000 people during the summer season. Brewster was described by The Daily Telegraph in 2003 as “immaculate” and “the most appealing of the towns on Route 6A”, the historic coast road also known as the Old King’s Highway.

Above: Old Manse Inn, one of the many former sea captains’ houses for which Brewster is famous.

Budleigh Salterton is a quiet seaside town of nearly 5,000 people situated on the East Devon coast 15 miles south of Exeter, at the mouth of the River Otter. It is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lying on the Jurassic Coast, England's first natural World Heritage Site. This covers 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to Dorset, with rocks recording 185 million years of the Earth's history.

Above: View of Budleigh Salterton from the sea.
What’s in a name?
Brewster, Massachusetts was named after Elder William Brewster, one of the original pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. It was settled in 1659 as part of Harwich, but officially designated as its own town in 1803. Just to confuse there are towns of the same name in Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington.

Left: Mayflower II, at Plymouth, Cape Cod, replica of the original ship of 1620 that brought pilgrims from England to Massachusetts. Picture credit:

Centuries ago Budleigh Salterton was a collection of fishing huts known as Salterton, the name being derived from the manufacture of salt. At that time the name Budleigh referred to the village a few miles to the north, now known as East Budleigh. The town’s beach was used as a location to review the Bentley Continental GT in a 2003 episode of the BBC’s motoring TV show Top Gear. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson, often noted for making offensive comments, explained that Budleigh Salterton was the sort of name an owner of this model of car would have.

Right: Bentley Continental GT

Celebrity residents

The most famous, Sir Walter Raleigh, was born around 1562 near the village of East Budleigh, a few miles north of Budleigh Salterton.

Left: Devon hero Sir Walter Raleigh: Elizabethan courtier, soldier, explorer, historian and poet.

Brewster is celebrated for its sea captains, having more in proportion to its population during the 19th century than any town in America. Fifty shipmasters resided in the town in the year 1850 alone. One of the most famous was Captain Josiah Knowles, master of the Clipper Ship Wild Wave. He became a legendary figure in the Pacific, sailing thousands of miles in a home-built 30-foot schooner with six crewmen when the Wild Wave was shipwrecked in the Pitcairn Islands in 1858, resulting in the rescue of its 30 castaway crew members and 10 passengers.

Right: Sea captain Josiah Knowles

Out and about
Nickerson State Park close to Brewster has 1,900 acres of forest, eight crystal clear freshwater ponds for boating and swimming, seasonal camping sites, eight miles of bike trails that connect to the larger 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, and miles and miles of hiking trails. The town-owned area known as Punkhorn Parklands offers many lovely ponds for sailing, canoeing, fishing, and has well maintained trails for hiking and birdwatching.
Above: Low Tide at Paines Creek, Brewster, a painting by local artist Breten Bryden

Inland from Budleigh lie the 2,800 acres of the East Devon Pebblebed heaths, maintained by Clinton Devon Estates. The public was granted access to all seven of the commons on the East Devon Heaths owned by the Estate in 1930, by the 21st Baron Clinton. The Estate has created many new footpaths linking current ones to form circular walks and 90% of Estate woodlands in East Devon are open to the public. There are numerous bridle tracks for horse riders and mountain bikers.

Above: Heather and gorse cover Budleigh’s neighbouring heathland where 10 miles of permissive paths have been established.

Baseball or croquet?
Brewster’s best known sporting club the Brewster Whitecaps is a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Its mission? As declared on its website at “to be an organization of the highest ethical standards which seeks to enhance the community of Brewster by providing an entertaining, inexpensive way for people of all ages to share in enjoying quality collegiate baseball.”

Above: The logo of Brewster Whitecaps baseball team.

Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club is one of the oldest if not the oldest croquet club in the world with records of committee meetings back to 1869! The club site thinks it’s worth mentioning that croquet is one of those few international sports in which Great Britain is the acknowledged champion nation. See

Right: Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club welcomes new members.

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