There are over twenty pubs and inns in Devon which are connected to famous authors and writers. I like to think that these Devon pubs, their regulars and the surrounding beautiful scenery were an inspiration to these famous wordsmiths.

Pack O’Cards, Combe Martin

Queen Victoria’s favourite author was Marie Corelli, who in her day outsold H.G. Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She stayed in Combe Martin for a time at the quaint Pack O’Cards Inn, which incidentally was built like a house of cards from the winnings of a poker game! Corelli loved Exmoor and her book The Mighty Atom was one of several set in the area. The inn has a room named after her.

Castle Inn, Lydford

Eden Philpotts was the prolific creator of 250 books including 18 novels in his Dartmoor series. The Whirlwind is set in Lydford around the Castle Inn. Read the atmospheric description of the Castle Inn one foggy night when a visitor crept in. The Castle Inn also claims to be the pub featured in The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal with its authentic interior beside Lydford Gorge.

Royal Hotel, Bideford

Which came first, the novel or Westward Ho! resort? You may be surprised to know that the seaside town of Westward Ho! was named after the novel, not the other way around.

Charles Kingsley rose to fame for his classic novel The Water Babies. In 1854 he stayed in a merchant’s house in Bideford, now part of the splendid Royal Hotel at the end of Bideford Bridge. He wrote most of his novel Westward Ho! in the lovely drawing room with its Elizabethan stucco ceiling, now part of the hotel bar. In his honour, the new resort just along the coast was named after his book.

American travel writer Josephine Tozier also visited the Royal Hotel in 1904 and included it in her book of Little Pilgrimages.

New Inn, Clovelly

Charles Dickens visited the New Inn at Clovelly in 1860 and it probably looked much the same then as it does today. Dickens was gathering material for his magazine All the Year Round and he wrote about Clovelly renaming it Steepways.

Sir Walter Raleigh stayed at the New Inn on his honeymoon and later became the first Professor of English Literature at Oxford. Charles Kingsley and Josephine Tozier also both stayed at the New Inn and Tozier wrote most entertainingly about it in her book Among English Inns.

The Lower House, Georgeham

Henry Williamson, author of Tarka the Otter, put the area as well as Lower House Inn on the map when he featured local wildlife in his novels. He stayed at The Lower House in the room which now houses the delightful gastropub restaurant and included it in his novel The Children of Shallowford.

Williamson also includes the neighbouring Rock Arms in several of his books including The Dreams of Fair Women and The Pathway although he changes the name of the pub to Nightcrow Inn.

Other Literary Pubs in Devon include:

  • Pilchard Inn & Burgh Island Hotel – Agatha Christie
  • Three Crowns Inn, Chagford – Sidney Godolphin, Charles Kingsley, Josephine Tozier
  • Red Lion, Clovelly – Charles Kingsley and Josephine Tozier
  • Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth – Agatha Christie
  • Rock Inn, Georgeham – Henry Williamson
  • Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale – Eden Philpotts
  • Warren House Inn, Postbridge – Eden Philpotts
  • Journey’s End, Ringmore – R.C. Sheriff
  • George Hotel, South Molton – R.D. Blackmore
  • Oxenham Arms, South Zeal – Sabine Baring-Gould, Eden Philpotts, Charles Kingsley
  • Royal Seven Stars, Totnes – Daniel Defoe
  • Two Bridges Inn, Two Bridges – Eden Philpotts
  • Old Inn, Widecombe – Eden Philpotts
  • Rugglestone Inn, Widecombe – Eden Philpotts,