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Set in a beautiful Valley and one of the south west’s oldest towns, full of historical buildings and traditions


Parish Church
River Otter
Set in the beautiful Otter Valley, Ottery St Mary is one of the south west’s oldest towns and so has many historical buildings and traditions.
Ottery St Mary’s Parish Church was built in 1337, and is a magnificent scaled-down version of Exeter Cathedral. The town is world-famous for its Tar Barrels event in November, where flaming tar barrels are carried through the streets.

The Church of Ottery St Mary
Photo Pete Boardman
The parish church of St. Mary, was developed as part of the College of Canons founded by John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter, in 1337. It contains many treasures including a minstrel gallery built on pillars, and a wonderful 14th century astronomical clock, and is an atmospheric setting for organ recitals and concerts.
The town's good selection of shops is well worth exploring, but don't forget to take a gentle stroll beside the River Otter to admire the unusual Tumbling Weir with its swirling "water down the plughole" effect, constructed in 1790. Two other shopping experiences just outside the town are popular Otter Nurseries with thousands of choice plants and gardening-related items, and Joshua's Harvest Store selling delicious West Country food and drink.
Two interesting historic houses are located nearby. Cadhay is a tranquil Tudor manor house with a courtyard ornamented with striking statues of royal Tudors, while Escot offers gardens designed by Capability Brown, woodland walks, a pet and aquatic centre, and an intriguing maze.
Events in Ottery St Mary include the unsual Pixie Day in June, where children dress up as pixies and re-enact an old legend, capturing the bell-ringers and spiriting them away to their "cave". The Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels are the town's most famous event where men shouldering flaming tar barrels run through packed crowds - a somewhat terrifying spectacle! Escot also hosts a wide range of events including plays, opera, live music, and the Beautiful Days Festival.

Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels Event
Photo Simon Davis
Visitor Information
Ottery St Mary Tourist Information Centre,10b Broad Street, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1BZ. Tel: 01404 813964

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