Ilfracombe in 1836
Ilfracombe is in the hundred of Braunton, on the coast of the Bristol channel, ten miles north of Barnstaple, and forty-seven or forty-eight north-west from Exeter. The parish has an area of 3,620 acres, and had, in 1831, population of 3,201 : of the adult males more than one-fifth were engaged in agriculture, and about the same number in retail trade and handicraft : there is a considerable coasting trade and herring fishery.
The town consists of one main street extending north-east and south-west along the sea-coast, and reaching at the north-east end to the harbour, which is formed by an inlet or cove of the Bristol channel, very commodious and safe, affording anchorage to vessels of 230 tons, and rendered additionally secure by a pier 850 feet in length. The harbour being accessible to vessels which cannot make Barnstaple or Bideford, has caused much of the port business of Barnstaple to be transferred hither : there are a battery and lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour.
Oats are the chief article of export. The houses are tolerably well built ; a number, intended for the reception of visitors, range along the harbour. The shore is convenient for bathing, and there are warm baths for invalids. The town is considered an agreeable summer residence, and is much resorted to.
There is a market on Saturdays well supplied with fish, and two cattle fairs in the year. The church is a large building at the south-west end of the town ; it contains a monument, erected at the national expense, to the memory of Captain Richard Bowen, R. N., who fell in the unsuccessful attack made by Nelson on Teneriffe, July, 1797. There are meeting-houses in the parish for Wesleyans and Independents. The town is governed by a portreeve.
The living of Ilfracombe is a vicarage of the yearly value of £150 with a glebe-house ; the rectorial tithes are in the hands of one of the prebendaries of Salisbury cathedral who is patron of the vicarage. There were at Ilfracombe in 1833 one national school with about 130 children, supported partly by an endowment and subscriptions, and partly by a small weekly payment from the children : nineteen day-schools with 341 children (one of these schools with 18 children is supported by a small endowment and by subscription) and two Sunday-schools with 356 children.