Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The private village of Clovelly

We've joked for a while that Marple is cut off from the world due to a curfew at night caused by the one main route being closed from 7pm.

Heading back from a day out today we saw signs for the village of Clovelly. Optimistically, we thought we might round the day off with a meander around a lovely coastal village just as the rain had receded. We may even have bought a few things for tea later. We didn't, as it would have cost us £23.40 just to enter the village and it was 4.30 in the afternoon. I'm sorry but this is just appalling.

The owners justify this by saying the following:

"It has cobbled streets" - so does Nelson.

"It is famous for its donkeys" - so is Blackpool.

"It is privately owned" - is it? The houses might be, the nasty looking visitor centre may be too, the car park may be as well. But the roads down to it aren't.

A quick search into the background to this found a fairly strident view that this amounts to a rip-off. Like this from Devon Link.

Then there's this from Wikipedia:

Visitors are told that revenues raised from the entrance fee are used to fund the constant maintenance of the village's cottages and cobbled street. However, there are discrepancies to these claims, and indeed to the justification of charging a fee to walk down the village street. The street is owned and maintained by Torridge District Council, therefore the claim that funds from the village are used to maintain the street are questionable. Additionally, critics of the post-1988 management claim that the Clovelly Estate Company has no legal basis in imposing a charge for visitors simply wishing to walk down the street (and not to visit or make use of other facilities such as the museum or film show), because it is a public street owned by the council. Likewise, visitors are stopped from walking down the road to the harbour in order to avoid using the visitor centre and paying for admission. This practice is legally unenforceable as it is a public road and any person may therefore use it free of charge.

So the owners want people to enjoy the village but pay for its upkeep, but they haven't had it protected through the National Trust, which we're members of. Maybe we'll go back for a guerrilla raid tomorrow.

6 comments:

Big John said...

Michael, I was in Devon with my family last week staying in Ilfracombe. I did consider visting Clovelly as I picked up a flyer in the hotel, but when I realised they wanted paying for the visit thought better of it. Having read your blog I'm glad i did now as it seems highly unorthodox.
John.

Michael Taylor said...

You should have gone. park up at the top car park. Walk out, back down the lane towards the "no entry" signs and into the village. Keep on walking until you find something you like. If anyone stops you, tell them to stick their entrance fee up their arse and remind them that the council pay for the roads.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, thanks for putting this out into the public domain. I am a local B&B owner and I always tell people to visit Clovelly, as it is absolutly gorgous, but to use the public side road that links to the public cobbled street. Perfectly legal, and no trespassing or fare-evading.

The money made by the admissions desk is massive - on a good summer's day they can take £30-£50,000. This in one of the poorest rural areas of the UK.

You are completely correct, the village is all privately owned by the Rous family, but the main street going down through it is a public street like any other in the land. It is very dodgy and I believe if anyone ever challenged it legally, the company would be forced to back down. But Mr Rous is worth over £100 million so he is seemingly above the law.

Us locals consider Clovelly beautiful yet at the same time a stain to North Devon, one of the most picturesque areas in the world.

The more people who know about the alternative - and LEGAL - way of accessing the village for free, the better.

Steve M said...

I'm sorry but you have no idea what you're talking about. Comparing the village to other pretty cobbled villages holds no weight because other villages' upkeep are paid for by the local council etc. The residents of Clovelly pay their council tax like everyone else but receive NO rubbish collection, recycling, repairs etc. seeing as it is private property. How would you pay for the upkeep of 100 or so properties and 4,600 acres?

The admission fee is not profit-making, so there is no rip-off. That only helps (but not completely) to cover the massive cost of maintaining a village perched on a 400-foot cliff with no vehicular access. The rest of the cost is covered by the rent from the properties. When the charge was introduced in 1988, the owners of the village were spending £40,000 per year more on maintenance than they were receiving in rent.

Clovelly is a private estate. I would like to ask the blogger if he knows of ANY private estate anywhere in the UK that does NOT charge to get in? And how many charge less than £6? Most private estates charge at least £10 for the privilege. All complaints about paying to visit this private estate are completely misplaced and all you have to do is think a little bit before writing unfair comments.

The charge has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it being a village! It is because it is private land and like all other private estates, the owner has put a charge to enter his land. In this case it is even more worthy because it is not for profit, only for survival. If the entrance fee was not there, Clovelly would cease to exist how it does. The owners would be forced to sell off cottages and it would become like any other village. You are not paying because it's a village, you are paying to enter a 4,600-acre estate, of which the village is a small part. Engage brain before typing misinformed nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Steve M conveniently ignores the valid point THAT THERE IS A PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY TO WALK INTO AND THROUGH CLOVELLY.

Idiot!

The village is a total rip-off and the signage is designed to defraud.

Unknown said...

Residents of Clovelly rent from the Rous family. Not for profit is absolutely bollocks. It goes in to the estate kitty and is used for everything including Rous family boat and house upkeep.
They are multi millionaires and want visitor's to pay their costs of owning an estate.
Road in is a public right of way and the charge unenforceable.