Barnstaple Close

As you come into Plymouth from the east, along the Devon Expressway, and you see the dry ski slopes ahead of you, if you imagine skiing up the shorter slope, over the Ski Lodge, over the brow of the hill and down the other side you’d find yourself in Barnstaple Close. Part of a modern estate between Forder Valley Road and Leigham Wood, the street names here have a distinctly Devonshire flavour, Barnstaple Close owing its appellation to the former seaport and market town that is the administrative centre of North Devon. Situated on the banks of the heavily silted River Taw, crossed here by a sixteen-arched 12th century bridge Barnstaple sits some six miles from the sea.

There are two principal theories concerning the name itself; one, based on the 10th century spelling “Beardastapol” suggesting a bearded post, as in a pole or post bearing a besom, broom or brush of twigs, which was used as a land or sea-mark; or the 11th century “Bardanstapol” from the Old English “barda”, as in “beaked ship”, the suggestion here being that this was a pole or post to which a warship may have been moored.