Wembury timeline

Wembury has a diverse history: from holiday camp and inspiration for the famous Forsyte Saga to a major naval gunnery school.

    800-1300

    St Werburgh Church above Wembury Beach, Devon

    Founding of St. Werburgh Church above Wembury Beach.

    1283

    Illustrative cross section of the Old Mill at Wembury, Devon

    First mention of a mill at Wembury Beach.

    1744

    The Great Mewstone viewed from Wembury Point, Devon

    A local man is sentenced to spend seven years living on the Mewstone.

    1813

    Historic illustration circa 1825 of Wembury Cove, Devon

    The famous artist JMW Turner lands on the Mewstone and makes several sketches.

    1818

    Looking out onto the river Yealm and nearby Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo, Devon

    Records report a short-lived furnace for barking nets close to Cellars Beach and a short-lived pilchard fishery.

    November 1824

    Collecting sea weed on Wembury Beach, Devon

    A terrible storm damages the Wembury mill and causes the brig 'John' to wash onto the Blackstone Rocks.

    1833

    Sam and Ann Wakenham

    Samuel Wakeham marries and settles with his family on the Mewstone. Protecting the island from poachers he also lives a dual life as a smuggler.

    1890s

    Historic photo of the Old Mill at Wembury Beach, Devon

    The mill at Wembury falls into disuse.

    1909

    Boats on the river Yealm viewed from Wembury Woods, Devon

    Plans to build a huge passenger port here, stretching from Wembury Point to Gara Point, are rejected by the  House of Lords.

    1912

    Looking over towards Wembury Beach, Devon

    John Galsworthy visits Wembury in order to research his family history, this provides the inspiration for Soames Forsyte’s similar quest in 'Swan Song', Book 6 of the Forsyte Saga.

    1927

    The Mewstone in Wembury Bay, Devon

    The Langdon Estate sells the Mewstone.

    1928

    Ladies exercising at a holiday camp at Wembury Point, Devon

    Wembury Point is sold and developed into two holiday camps.

    1935

    Ida Sebag-Montefiore on horse at Wembury, Devon

    Ida Sebag-Montefiore gives Wembury Cliffs to the National Trust to protect them from development.

    1939

    Cream teas available at the Old Mill café at Wembury, Devon

    The National Trust acquires Wembury Mill, now used as a café.

    1940

    Gorse on the headland of Wembury Point, Devon

    The Ministry of Defence requisitions Wembury Point and builds a radar station, observation posts and anti-aircraft guns.

    1956

    The Leach Building pre demolition at Wembury Point, Devon

    The HMS Cambridge Gunnery School is established at Wembury Point.

    2001

    HMS Cambridge Keep Out Fence at Wembury Point, Devon

    HMS Cambridge Gunnery School is decommissioned.

    2006

    National Trust Warden Chris Lingard removing fences at HMS Cambridge Gunnery School at Wembury Point, Devon

    The National Trust buys both Wembury Point and the Mewstone turning the latter into a nature reserve and returning the former to its natural environment.