Ten Good Reasons to Visit Devizes
PUBLISHED: 10:51 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 20 February 2013
If you only wanted one good reason to visit Devizes, then it would have to be because it's the location for the Moonraker legend, but there are many more reasons why you should visit ... and enjoy the experience.
Devizes is a little gem and you do really only need one reason to visit. However, if you have to isolate ten reasons, let's have a saunter around.
The Market Place
If there's one thing that picks Devizes out, it's the magnitude of the square. For a town of its size it's almost of St Mark's proportions and, with the Kennet and Avon Canal also passing through the town, the comparison is more than a little apposite.
The Street Layout
Devizes is one of the few towns in the whole country that has kept its ancient medieval street pattern. The town grew up on the perimeter of the Norman castle and it has retained, largely without impediment, the line of the streets that developed from that time and it is remarkable for a town to have resisted change in this way.
The Medieval Town Trail
The medieval aspect of the town is traced in a fine town trail, available free of charge from the Devizes Visitors' Centre. There can be no better introduction to Devizes than to walk this route, the highlight of which is undoubtedly the environs of the church and the timber-framed and stone-built dwellings built on the perimeter of the old Castle's outer bailey. There's a glimpse of the private house that replaced the medieval castle from here, complete with battlemented turrets that really transports you back in time: narrow your eyes and you can almost see the ghosts of Devizes' medieval peasantry going about their daily lives in this little quarter.
Approaching the town from the Trowbridge side, you can't fail to miss the towering Northgate Brewery building, where Wadworth's beer has been brewed since 1885 (the firm was actually established 10 years earlier by Henry Wadworth and the company is still family owned). Beer is still delivered locally by traditional dray pulled by the company's handsome shire horses, Royal, Max, Prince and Tom and the brewery features one of only six working coopers in the whole of the country.
Wadworth Brewery Visitors Centre
The Brewery has long arranged visits for its trade customers but now the public can share in the experience with a specially built new Visitor's Centre. Opened shortly before Christmas last year the new centre traces the history of brewing in Devizes and the brewing process and a welcome under cover attraction for the town.
Kennet and Avon Canal and Museum
Devizes is rich in heritage. The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust has its headquarters on the Wharf and next door is the shop and museum that traces the history of the building of the canal, its decline and neglect, and the eventual rise to glory again through the good offices of the Canal Trust.. A pleasant hour spent in the museum can do much to enthuse anyone about the attraction that canals still hold today.
Caen Hill Locks
Located just outside town, Caen Hill Locks is one of the wonders of the country's inland waterway system with a giant staircase of 16 closely-spaced locks and holding basins at Caen Hill, just part of a system of 29 locks necessary to link two sections of the canal.
Wiltshire Heritage Museum
On the outskirts of the town in Long Street, the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and associated library and art gallery, holds collections covering the archaeology, recent history, natural history and art of Wiltshire. The exhibits include what some believe to be the finest Bronze Age finds to be seen outside London and the collections have been designated as being a significant part of England's cultural heritage.
One of the most decisive battles of the English Civil War for the Royalists took place on Roundway Down just outside Devizes in 1643. Quaker's Walk, from Park Bridge, takes you direct to the battlefield with its dramatic scenery.
Perhaps the reason why Devizes is so synonymous with Wiltshire is the fact that it is the Crammer (the town pond) located on the green, which is said to have given rise to the nickname that Wiltshire people are proud to be known by: Moonrakers.
Tourist Information and Visitors' Centre