What’s going for it? “Farewell, seductive Sidmouth by the sea/Older and more exclusive than Torquay, Sidmouth in Devon,/you’re the town for me!” And on the subject of lovely places, what John Betjeman says goes. If he implies that Sidmouth is the loveliest seaside resort in England, who are we to argue? Ditto Ernest Bevin, who used to holiday here with Flo. There is still a touch of the Betjeman-ish past in the town. It seems relatively, beautifully untroubled by modernity, strung between Budleigh Salterton and Seaton at the unfashionable, un-artisan end of both Lyme Bay and Devon. Not that it’s faded. Not a bit of it; the town is spick and span, and gleaming in whitewash or magnolia. The centre is packed tight with putting greens, municipal gardens, bandstands and croquet clubs, and pretty old buildings, the kind that would have tickled Sir John’s fancy, housing general stores, bakers, hotels called the Belmont or the Bedford, and the glorious Fields of Sidmouth department store, still going strong, with “service as it used to be”. Oh Sidmouth, you’re the town for me.
The case against Not one little thing.
Well connected? The nearest station is a 20-minute drive away in Honiton, which has hourly direct trains to London Waterloo (just under three hours) via Salisbury (90 minutes), and to Exeter St David’s (25 minutes) and beyond. There are local buses to Honiton and Exeter, but a car is vital. Exeter’s a half-hour drive, slightly less on the M5.
Where to buy A nice selection of all ages. In the old centre, terraces (£160,000-£450,000), cottages (detacheds £260,000-£450,000; semis £230,000-£500,000) and town houses (£550,000-£1m) rub up against one another, including some rather fine Georgians and Regency (£700,000-£1.5m). Suburbans: east over the Sid up Salcombe Hill, and west up the slopes of Bickwell Valley and Glen Road. Flats, £130,000-£325,000. Rentals: three-bedroom homes, £600-£750pcm.
Bargain of the week Spacious three-bedroom, four-reception house with gardens tumbling down to the river; needs modernising. £290,000, with redfernsofsidmouth.co.uk.
From the streets
Michael Teare and Pamela Sanders “Take a walk from the Byes to Connaught Gardens, along the seafront, and reward yourself with a cake afterwards at the Clock Tower Cafe.”
Estelle Brain “Sidmouth has a lovely seafront, a market, independent shops and places to eat, and a favourite of ours, Fields department store.”
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