Early Plans


In 1700 one Joel Gascoyne was busy systematically mapping all the Granville’s West-country properties for the Earl of Bath (John Granville, 1628-1701). The project was eventually abandoned, but not before it produced a plan of Bideford Grange. The grange lands extended east-north-eastward from Grange Road, to about the current location of Manteo Road. At the Grange Road end are shown a series of small buildings and yards, whilst at the eastern end are arable fields and moorland.

By the late seventeenth century, the volume of trade through Bideford made an extension to the Established (Bridgeland Street) Quay desirable. Whilst a quay already existed in 1574, when the land was gifted to the Borough, further construction had taken place in 1663, by 1690 this was about to be extend southward toward the bridge and northward toward Potter’s Pill. In December of 1692 the Feoffees of the Long Bridge appointed several of their number “to contract for the building of a Key for Ships to lay at the East end of the New Street”. They appointed the builder Nathaniel Gascoyne to undertake the work and it is thanks to these endeavours that we have an early plan of the area downstream of the bridge. Dating from c 1717, this plan provides further evidence that much of Bideford’s early maritime activity was associated with the eastern river-bank. It shows considerable detail and, with the exception of the Long Bridge, is mostly drawn to scale. To the east of the Torridge is a ribbon of at least fifty houses, lying along Torrington Street and Barnstaple Street, but the eye is immediately drawn to one that is depicted as much larger than the rest, much as a manor house might be in maps of that time. It stood in roughly the location now occupied by the Royal Hotel and is interpreted as John Davie’s Colonial House. Across the road from it are a range of non-standard buildings and a waterfront area marked as “The Key.” This is the only area in which such a diversity of building styles is shown and it may reflect a predominance of manufacturing or storage facilities in this area. A further two quays are marked, both ascribed to named individuals (one to Mr Strange and one to Mr Doubty). Three shipyards are shown, of which two are in East-the-Water, the largest being just north of “The Key.” On the eastern shore, and immediately south of the bridge, is an ecclesiastical-looking property with an arched doorway, which is presumably the St Anne’s bridge chapel.