Wish you were here: In their own words - Sidmouth visitors and their postcards

A picture of Sidmouth beach used for a postcard

A picture of Sidmouth beach used for a postcard - Credit: Margaret Taylor

Sidmouth historian Margaret Taylor writes for the Herald.

This famous phrase certainly applied to Sidmouth postcard writers.

Flo, hopes that the recipient of her card will “come down one Sunday while we are here”, as she penned her greeting on the back of a Duchess of Devonshire postcard.

And the weather...still a constant conversation with us today.

Our 1904 visitor, Tom Davis, staying at The Knowle, finds the weather is very unsettled – but the claret 'very good'.

Later, in 1916, E M, who appears to have come from abroad, describes how the October weather is glorious and they will be ‘sorry to leave this country’.

Arnold, in the 1920s, is “having a capital time and the weather today has been glorious. Yesterday was wet and rough, the waves were throwing shingle all over the sea wall”.

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Bill, in August, also in the 1920s sends a card to his mum, telling of his arrival and commenting that it was “wet but lovely today”. Fred, in August of 1926, reports that the weather is good and “there is some good cricket every day here”.

Sidmouth is traditionally known for its health - giving properties, and H, in April 1929, describes how “we came here on Thurs, hoping the sea breeze will blow away the remains of the flu and measles. So far it is lovely, warm and sunny. We motor somewhere every day but return to our comfortable hotel at night.” They are staying at The Faulkner.

Boat trips have always been popular, and in 1906, young Len, arrives by boat, and writes to his Auntie in Yeovil: “Dear Auntie, we come up here by boat from Exmouth”.

He probably arrived on The Duchess of Devonshire.

The Duchess of Devonshire

The Duchess of Devonshire - Credit: Margaret Taylor

How about hiring a boat? From 1905, “We are having a topping time here. We have got a boat for a week . We went out in it nearly all day yesterday. We are having glorious weather”. In 1908, Flo “ had a nice time on the sea, lovely and calm”, and Jean, in early September 1952 wrote to Uncle and Aunt in London: “We went on a boat trip this morning and enjoyed it very much as the sea was a bit rough.”

My father and his parents often used to walk up Peak Hill on a Sunday afternoon for tea.

Our location is wonderful, and walking is still popular; as it was in 1911.

A visitor sends a Peak Hill View card, looking east - writing “we walked to the top of this hill yesterday – what a glorious view all a round”. The card above depicts the former café at the top of Peak Hill.

How about lunch? In 1912, Lizzie is eating her meals at Trump’s Gate.

Ted is probably a driver and writes in 1915: “Just going to get some dinner in the Steward’s room at hotel, What oh, the sea makes you feel a bit hungry.”

Of course, enjoying the beach is a timeless custom.

And Hilda, from 1955, has been spending hours on the beach. And at that time, a bathing tent would have been required, as it was simply ‘not done’ to change on the beach.

In 1964 the Chine at Jacob’s Ladder was completed, allowing easier access to the beach.