World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Burgh Island

Article Id: WHEBN0000069383
Reproduction Date:

Title: Burgh Island  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sea tractor, South West Coast Path, River Avon, Devon, South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Burgh (disambiguation)
Collection: Islands of Devon, Tidal Islands of England
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Burgh Island

Burgh Island
View from Bigbury-on-Sea
Location English Channel
Sovereign state
Constituent country England
Shire county Devon
Shire district South Hams
Additional information
NB: Burgh Island is a tidal island

Burgh Island is a small tidal island on the coast of South Devon in England near the small seaside village of Bigbury-on-Sea. There are several buildings on the island, the largest being the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel. The other buildings are three private houses, and a public house, the Pilchard Inn, run by the hotel.


  • History 1
  • The hotel 2
  • Notable visitors 3
  • Transport 4
  • Footpaths 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The early history of the island is unclear, however it is mentioned in early records and on maps as St Michael's Island. Later the name changed to Borough Island, eventually being corrupted to Burgh. As late as 1947 an Ordnance Survey map [1] refers to the island as Borough Island. In 1908 a postcard produced by Stengel & Co Ltd of London [2] referred to it as Burr Island. A map published in 1765 shows "Borough or Bur Isle".[3]

The remains of the former chapel

It is believed a monastery was established on the island, most of the remains of which may lie beneath the current hotel. The ancient Pilchard Inn may have started life as the guest lodgings for the monastery.

A small, perhaps transient, population of fishermen occupied the island following the dissolution of the monastery, specialising in pilchard fishing. There are the remains of a chapel atop the island, which later became a "huers hut" — a place where fishermen would make a "hue and cry" call to inform other fishermen of shoals of pilchards.[4] During this period smuggling, wrecking and piracy were common, benefiting from a natural barrier for half the day.

Fears of German landing forces using the island as a beachhead during World War II resulted in the area's fortification with anti-tank defences and two pillboxes, positioned on both sides of the causeway. An observation post was also established on the summit to monitor the coastline.

The hotel

Burgh Island at sunset, viewed from Thurlestone

Burgh Island is well-known today as the location of a restored 1920s Art Deco-style hotel.

Notable visitors

Burgh Island is closely linked to Agatha Christie, as it served as the inspirational setting for both Ten Little Niggers and the Hercule Poirot mystery Evil Under the Sun. The hotel, with its eloquent Art Deco styling, was also a bolt hole in the 1930s for some of London's rich and famous, including Noël Coward. The 2002 TV adaptation of Evil Under The Sun used the island as a filming location. In 1994 an episode of the television series Lovejoy was set and filmed on the island. It was entitled 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'.

The island was also the location for GMTV's Inch-loss Island slimming feature in 2008, as it was for the original series in 2001. The climactic scene of the 1965 British film Catch Us If You Can (featuring The Dave Clark Five) takes place at the island.

British musician Ben Howard released his "Burgh Island EP" in November 2012. This was inspired by his memories of surfing the beaches around Burgh Island.


The sea tractor is used to ferry visitors to the island during high tide

The island is approximately 270 yards (250 m) from the mainland at Bigbury-on-Sea and is approachable on foot at low tide. At high tide, the sea tractor, which is operated by the hotel, transports passengers back and forth. The original vehicle was constructed in 1930; the current third generation tractor dates from 1969. The vehicle drives across the beach with its wheels underwater on the sandy bottom while its driver and passengers sit on a platform high above. Power from a Fordson tractor engine is relayed to the wheels via hydraulic motors.


The island has an extensive network of footpaths and the owner until 2003 was a keen hiker who welcomed walkers. The new owners, however, erected signs closing footpaths and obtained an exemption from the public "rights to roam" enabled in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The exemption was overturned, except for the routes closest to the hotel, in 2006.[5]


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey Sheet 20/64 Scale 1:25,000 1947
  2. ^ Stengel & Co Ltd, London EC; card reference E32111; The Warren from Burr Island
  3. ^ Donn, Benjamin (1765). "A map of the county of Devon, 1765. Section SX64.". Devon Libraries Local Studies Service. Devon County Council. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  4. ^ "Burgh Island Galleries". The  
  5. ^ Staff writer (2 December 2006). "Walkers are free to use island paths".  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.