Devon's Best Towns For Shopping
Farm shops, antiques shops, home shops and craft stores - here’s our guide to the best places to shop in Devon.
This pretty stannary town is crammed with cafes, tea rooms, farm shops and delis. Check out wood-panelled Blacks for great light lunches, local produce and cheeses, Jaded Palates for a wines, local gins and ales and the Courtyard Cafe for healthy lunches and organic produce. The town has half-day closing on Wednesday afternoons.
Dubbed the gateway to the moor, Ashburton is an elegant town whose fortunes were founded on cloth and mining. It is one of Dartmoor’s four stannary towns, where tin was bought to be taxed – and its fine slate-hung frontages house a well-to-do selection of antique shops, delis, cafes and restaurants. Most notable of the latter is the Fish Deli and Ashburton Deli.
Devon Guild of Craftsmen
The Devon Guild is the largest contemporary crafts centre in the South West, displaying beautiful pieces in an idyllic riverside setting, this former millhouse on a river in Bovey Tracey stocks a lovely range of products made by local artisans, including pottery, wrought iron pieces, jewellery and leatherwork. There are art and craft exhibitions, housed in airy white-walled studios, and upstairs is a rustic café, which sells a delicious salads and homemade cakes. There’s also variety of workshops on offer that might persuade you to try your hand at knitting, calligraphy, printmaking or weaving.
The ancient town of Tavistock has one of the oldest markets in existence. Tavistock Pannier Market was granted a Royal Charter in 1105, and has been operating here without a break ever since. It sells antiques and crafts with themed markets on a Saturday, and is in a wonderful castellated Victorian building. Just outside the market is Country Cheeses, a Devon shop that sells hundreds of British cheeses, mostly sourced from the West Country. Try crumbly Totnes special Ticklemore Goat, the shop’s own Little Stinky, or Devon sage.
Hippyish Totnes is a place where the independent spirit is cherished – they even have their own currency, the Totnes pound. This is the place to shop for wholefoods, eco and organic stores. Social Fabric on the High Street sells bright yarns and fabrics and also run a variety of craft workshops, from lampshade-making to felting. Aromatika sells organic and natural skincare products, while Arcturus Books stock mind, body and spirit titles. The Seeds2Bakery uses only local organic stone ground flour, while the Wild Fig Deli specialises in gluten-free and vegetarian food. Drift Records stock new music, with a policy that ranges from left field minimal tech house to home-recorded roots music from the Appalachian Mountains. Riverford Organic farm shop sells wonderful local cheeses. rtistic education centre Dartington Hall also houses an unusual shopping experience – you’ll find everything here, including natural beauty products, colourful kitchenware and a classy food shop, where 80% of the produce stocked is made, reared or grown in the West Country. At the lovely Re-Store shop, volunteer artists restore and upcycle old materials into covetable homewares. And the Tanner Bates Leather School produces hand-stitched and high quality leather goods, from luggage tags to messenger bags.
The estuary-side town of Topsham is a delight: its narrow lanes wind towards the harbour, which is ringed with restaurants, pubs and antique shops. Other attractions include an appealing run of 18th-century Dutch-style gabled houses, a long riverside strand, huge antiques market on the quayside. Many shops close on Sundays.
Pedestrianised Princesshay centre is the place to go for chain stores, with independent shops centred around the Castle Quarter. Silver Lion on Gandy Street, sells hand-made and Fairtrade jewellery from around the world, while Crede sells designer fashion. Fore Street is at the heart of the hip and historic West Quarter, where you can shop for vintage clothing and electric guitars amongst the half-timbered buildings. The Real McCoy in McCoy’s Arcade has sells one-off pre-loved garments including ball gowns and retro leather, while No Guts No Glory sells artist-designed organic T-shirts, art magazines, cards and prints. Exeter is also home to the Original Surfboard Company, which produces beautiful wooden boards, as well as funky board bags.
The small market town of Honiton has no less than 85 antiques shops, selling everything from carriage clocks to leather-bound books. Most have stalls at Fountain Antiques, on the High Street, with a handful selling the lace for which Honiton was once famed. Honiton Fine Arts sells gorgeous mid-century English oil paintings, while Strummer Pink, sells colourful artwork, mirrors, lighting, rugs and blankets made by local artisans. Take a breather at rustic café Toast.