Bowcombe Bridge (New Bridge)

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Newbridge near Kingsbridge
Post Code

Kingsbridge was developed around a drawbridge which was built in the 10th century. Dividing the land between the Royal Estates of Alvington to the west and Chillington to the East; hence the name Kingsbridge!

The first mention of the area is in the Domesday Book of 1086; but it is only Dodbrooke that appears, then known as Dodesbroch. Interestingly there appears to be no settlement and the parish church is shown as being in Churchstow, a local village a few miles away.

Human remains have been found in this area from over 20,000 years ago! The last glacial age was rife across southern England and Wales but the sunny South Hams escaped the full freeze. In the last retreat some 10,000 years ago, streams and valleys were carved and became flooded by the sea. This inlet we now know as the Kingsbridge Estuary which is technically called a 'ria' - a flooded tidal system.

Iron Age Celts built hilltop forts across Devon and these old vestiges can still be seen around Kingsbridge and Salcombe, however, the Roman and Saxon invasions forced the Celts over the Tamar to Cornwall. After the Norman invasion in 1066 the lands were given to the Abbots of Buckfast who obtained a charter to hold markets in Kingsbridge as early as 1219. By 1250 it had its own chapel and mills, which had operated on Mill Street (Kingsbridge) for over 800 years until the last one closed in 1967. In 1538 the Abbey was forced to give up his lands and these were passed into private hands.

Between 1790 and 1815 the Napoleonic Wars resulted in more trade for Kingsbridge and shipbuilding took a hold on the beaches between Kingsbridge and Salcombe, the Crabshell Inn now occupies that known as Bonds Quay.


  • Parking - Limited
  • Accessibility - Good
  • Toilets - No
  • Refreshments - No
  • Dogs - Welcome year round
  • Life Guard - None

Best for

Estuary views across to the 'Bag' in Salcombe, bird watching and water sports including sailing, kayaking, canoeing and SUP (stand up paddle boarding).

Look out for

The family of swans that live in the area, this is a very popular area of bird watching.

It's a fact !

In 1826 a structural engineer known as James M Rendel rebuilt the drawbridge we now know as 'Bowcombe Bridge' (joining Alvington and Chillington) using 4 masonry arches and an opening span - it is understood this was the first time that hydraulic power was used!


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