The Meadfoot area of Torquay is a hugely popular residential districts of Torquay. It combines a superb location close to the centre of town and the harbour with a peaceful tranquil ambience helped by the leafy nature of the area.It has a sheltered bay as well as clifftop areas such as Daddyhole Plain and Madeira Drive.
One of the most notable features of the area is Hesketh Crescent which sits on a prominent postion overlooking the bay. Building started in 1846 and was finished by 1848. The builders were William Harvey and John Tapley Harvey. In the beginning it was named Meadfoot Crescent but later renamed Hesketh Crescent in honour of Lord and Lady Hesketh who were the parents of the wife of Lawrence Palk who developed the crescent. Many of the modern roads in and around the crescent were specifically made in order to get building materials to the building site. The building of the crescent occured against the back drop of difficult years for the poor of Devon. Crop failures in Britain had led to steep rises in the price of bread and riots common in other parts of Devon spread to Torquay in 1846. A mob marrauded through Torquay attacking local businesses. In those days there were no police and the local magistrates had to rely on volunteers to help try and restore order as well as sending for soldiers from Exeter.
Among the crescent's more famous residents were Charles Darwin who stayed for some weeks in 1861 a few years after the publication of The Origin of Species. The crescent was also the home of the Lucy family who were childhood friends of Agatha Miller - the young girl who went on to become Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. The buildings in the crescent and their railings were listed in 1952 as a grade II* property.
Set just below the crescent is Meadfoot Bay which is popular for participants in various watersports. It also has a superb beach cafe.
Long before the cafe existed or indeed Hesketh Crescent existed, an unusual spectacle unfolded one summer in the Bay. It was in the summer of1815 after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo that he was held on the ship Bellerephon just by the Orestone (the flat topped rock you can see beyond Thatcher's Rock at the eastern end of the Bay). The ship arrived on 24th July and the deposed emperor immediately became a huge visitor attraction. It is said that more than a thousand boats daily set out from Torquay and neighbouring towns so that people could catch a glimpse of Bonaparte.He appeared to be quite relaxed and happy at this point and was delighted by the attention that he was getting. He obliged the onlookers by walking on the decks and even waving at some of the spectators. The sailors on board the ship equally seemed at ease with their prisoner and when he went in for his meals they hung a board out saying "He's gone to dine." Given that he had been such a mortal enemy of the British, the local inhabitants appeared quite well disposed towards Napoleon and wealthy families including the Carys at Torre Abbey sent food hampers to the ship. Napoleon finally left Tor Bay on 11th August and he went into exile on St Helena, a bleak island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. A full peace was declared as a result of his formal deposition as emperor and there was a massive public dinner in celebration up on Daddyhole Plain.
Daddyhole Plain is one of three limestone plateaux around the English Riviera and it gives fantastic views across Tor Bay, Torquay Harbour and Lyme Bay. In the Victorian times it was cultivated by Victorian gardeners but today it is a wildlife reserve and is home to the rare hore shoe bat, a colony of which have taken up residence in a former World War 2 look out post. The name Daddyhole comes from the word "Daddy" which in old English was another word for "The Devil". Local legend was that the devil resided in a cave at the foot of the cliffs just below the plain and there were lurid stories of demonic appearances up above on the plain
One of Torquay's great modern institutions, The Little Theatre is also located in the Meadfoot area housed in the former St Mark's Church; this is home to The Toads Theatre Company.
If you would like to follow in Napoleon's foot steps click the link below for availability and rates as well as to book. Don't forget that you will get cheaper rates by booking direct than if you book with the online booking agents.