Ottery St Mary
10:49 15 April 2010
Surrounded by lovely countryside teeming with wildlife, Ottery St Mary is one of the most welcoming towns you could find.
Its claims to fame include flaming tar barrels being carried through the streets and pixies roaming arond.
Besides its ancient traditions, has a fascinating history it was mentioned in the Domesday Book as The Manor of Otrei. Visit the famous Tumbling Weir, constructed in 1790 to supply water to the nearby Georgian factory, the St Saviours Bridge, and the old town mill that was recorded in the Domesday Book, plus many historic houses and inns. The town is also the birthplace of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1772 who wrote a sonnet to the River Otter.
Dont miss a visit to the Church of St Mary, modelled on Exeter Cathedral. The interior of the church is a fine example of Medieval craftsmanship, containing an astronomical clock from that time, which is still working accurately.
Ottery St Mary has a superb range of shops, facilities, places to visit, and a varied social calendar, and, lying in the lovely valley of the River Otter, from which its name derives, is the ideal place from which to explore the area.
You will not fail to notice the wonderful floral displays throughout the town from traditional country gardens to formal gardens, hanging baskets and water displays, the town is a blaze of colour in the summer.
The local shops and businesses attract visitors from a huge area. All basic essentials and much more are catered for, including those all important gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your visit or stay in the town. And for that really special purchase visit the Farmers Market held on the first Friday of each month from 8.30am at the Hind Street car park, offering a wonderful range of local produce such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables, cakes and plants.
There is also a superb selection of places to dine, from local pubs and restaurants to an award-winning tea shop.
As you walk round the town you can enjoy some original pieces of art the many beautifully painted shop windows in the town have been created by artists Caroline Johnson and Alastair Price.
The town has a huge range of events that take place throughout the year.
One of the best known local events is the annual Pixie Day, held this year on June 18, when children have great fun dressing up as pixies and re-enact an old local legend by trying to capture the church bell ringers and so regain control of the town. There is also a fete and fireworks display.
Warm and exciting is the best way to describe another of the towns unique traditions the annual Tar Barrel ceremony, held on Bonfire Night. Said to have begun in 1688, the ceremony involves flaming tar barrels being carried through the packed street by the men of the town, and there is fierce competition to be the best. Thousands of spectators turn up to watch the event, which starts with the junior barrel event in the afternoon. The event gathers momentum ending with the final enormous flaming barrel at about midnight. The occasion is also marked with a fun fair and a huge bonfire.
Ottery St Mary Carnival, this year on October 29, is another highlight, attracting a huge range of colourful floats. People flood in from the surrounding area to take part in what is now a major event in Devon. The event starts with a parade of floats and people in fancy dress through the town followed by a firework display on the land of Caanan.
Other notable events include the Beautiful Days music and art festival held at the nearby Escot country park and gardens on August 19 and 20.