Combe Martin History The name is derived from “Combe” meaning a small wooded valley and Martin from the name of the Norman family who inherited the manor from one of the supporters of William the Conqueror. It is a small seaside resort with a sheltered cove on the edge of the Exmoor national park. Due to the narrowness of the valley, it is composed principally of one single long street which runs two miles from the valley head to the sea. Population 2500+ with many Domesday Book families still in the area. It is actually the longest village street in England, and at one time there were 9 pubs all on the same side of the road, enabling drunken customers to stagger from one to the other without fear of being knocked down. Combe Martin is famous for its strawberries, which are said to be the finest in the world Silver mining took place in several mines located on the eastern ridge and evidence of tunnels can still be seen, as well as the remains of a wheelhouse used to lift ore from the mine. There are items in the Crown Jewels made from Combe Martin Silver. One of the village’s unusual features is the “Pack of Cards” pub built around 1700 by George Ley. Reputed to have been funded by his gambling successes it originally had 52 windows, 13 rooms and 4 floors (matching the numbers from a traditional pack of cards). The ‘Earl of Rone’ annual procession is quite unique featuring the rare hobby horse of Pagan England mixed in with the capturing and multiple shootings of the ‘Earl of Tyrone’ c1607. The ‘Hunting of the Earl of Rone’ takes place over a week finishing in a 2 mile procession along the closed off main street, featuring Redcoats, music and hundreds of dancers in old fashioned dress. Unfortunately the procession was banned in 1838 ( due to the drunken behaviour of some of the participants) but was revived in 1970. Combe Martin’s other major event is the carnival which takes place every year during the second week of August. Its highlights include a raft race around the bay and a wheelbarrow race down the long village street, and it culminates in a carnival procession and firework display.
“Longest village street in England”
Combe Martin is reputed to have the longest village street in England stretching, with scarcely a break in its development, for over a mile and a quarter and having seven different names, The Woodlands, Seaside, Borough Road, King Street, High Street, Castle Street, and Victoria Street. This has come about only relatively recently. About a hundred years ago a visitor, who was taking a walking holiday in North Devon, wrote of his journey “Next comes Combe Martin, aninland village of one street, more than a mile. long”. Now Combe Martin is referred to as a village on the coast of North Devon, but analysis of late 18th century and 19th century maps shows that the village was made up essentially of two separate settlements, Head Town and Seaside.