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24 September 2014

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Bampton Sign
Your first sight of the town.

Home Town - Bampton

By Humphrey Berridge
Bampton is a place of varied entertainments with six Britain in Bloom awards, the remains of a Norman castle, a bustling shopping district and some courageous cuddlies.

Bampton lies in mid Devon, just at the bottom right hand corner of Exmoor, on the edge of the National Park.

In spite of being just a small rural town, it has a thriving community, and remarkably boasts two small supermarkets, two bakeries, a post office, excellent butcher’s and greengrocer’s shops, a renowned fish-and-chip shop, and no less than seven pubs and restaurants.

Brook Street
The water-lined Brook Street

The town is very close to the Exe valley, and our own river Batherm joins the Exe on the fringes of the town – the main street, Brook Street, has water running down leats on either side of the road – don’t get your feet wet when you park there!.

The town is a beautiful place to visit, steeped in history.

A commanding view from ‘the motte’ (the mound of the old Norman castle) allows you to see the whole place – the twelfth century St Michael’s and All Angels church is at the centre, and many of the buildings are made of the local limestone.

Bampton Fair
Two of the visitors to Bampton Fair

Up until the 1960’s Bampton was a dirty and dusty place surrounded by quarries, but these industrial workings are now lost in wild countryside and woodland, giving us not only a splendid backdrop to the town, but also a very diverse selection of wild plants, animals, and birds.

Bampton is very well known for its colourful displays of flowers and plants – the town has been involved in Britain in Bloom for over 30 years, and has won the national title six times, the last being in the millennium year.

In the summer time, many visitors come to admire the stunning colours, set off against the old stone walls – particularly during the Secret Gardens weekend when additionally a number of superb private gardens may be visited.

Parachuting Teddy Bear
Today's the day the teddybears have their... jump?

Open Day – August Bank Holiday Monday – is a day of curious entertainments and events, including teddy-bear parachute jumping from the church tower!

In 1258, Bampton was granted a Royal Charter by Henry III for its St Luke’s Fair – but the fair had been running for some time before then!

Today, Bampton Charter Fair takes place on the last Thursday in October, when the roads are closed and the whole place becomes a huge street market selling everything under the sun, including local crafts and produce.

A fun-fair occupies the centre of the town, and plenty of colourful street entertainment such as musicians, jugglers, and thespians provide enjoyment for all.

Humphrey Berridge
Humphrey Berridge

For the three days following Bampton Charter Fair, a folk festival of music and dance takes place with a wide variety of events in the two halls and in the local pubs.

Humphrey Berridge retired as a science and IT teacher a few years ago, and now lives in Bampton, where he is now both Station Master (the last train ran in 1963!) and Webmaster.

All photographs © Humphrey Berridge

last updated: 20/02/06
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