Fit Right In! The New Resident’s Guide to Topsham

New To Topsham? 10 essential facts to help you fit right in…

  • What To Call It? You always spell it T-o-p-s-h-a-m but while most pronounce it ‘Topshm’ some older Devonians call it ‘Topsum’. And in case you want to visit the Topsham that’s in the US state of Maine make sure you use the ‘Topsum’ pronunciation – that’s the one they like and not, as we might have anticipated, ‘Top-Sham’.
  • What NOT To Call It! Proud Devonians are adamant that Topsham is a town, not a village – it was declared a town in 1300 because it was permitted to hold a market. Although absorbed into Exeter City Council’s boundaries in 1966, if you dare call Topsham a suburb within earshot of a local, you’ll probably end up in the Exe.
  • What Are You Having? Topsham has plenty of drinking places but it’s like a desert compared to the past – at one time it had over 40 (roughly one per street!). One was The Bridge Inn visited by Queen Elizabeth II, several were legendary for lock-ins and one featured in the Sunday Sport newspaper in the 1980s – ‘nuff said.
  • Sticking Together: There’s a hyper-active community – scores of groups, including of course Love Topsham. Locals banded together to build and run the swimming pool, buy waterside land to prevent development destroying the views, and raised millions (literally) to create a hub providing services for older and needy residents.
  • Award Winning: The Sunday Times has named the town one of the south west’s Best Places To Live for five of the past seven years – and we agree! Meanwhile two restaurants have Michelin gongs and another’s been named the area’s best Asian eatery. Oh, and the local wine has won gold in several regional vino festivals.
  • Twitchers Welcome: Seen people dressed in camouflage and holding binoculars? No, not Peeping Toms. They’re likely heading to the edge-of-town nature reserves for wading birds, or the RSPB hide at Bowling Green Marsh, officially a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Top spots are Avocets, Godwits, Widgeon and Teal.
  • There’s A Charter (and a Charter Day); Topsham was granted a Charter by Edward I and every year in late August a day is dedicated to processions and renactments around town. There’s music at some pubs and displays and workshops of traditional crafts. Personally, I don’t get further than the food stalls on Fore Street…
  • Making A Splash: The Exe Estuary is busy and beautiful and hosts sailors, birds, cyclists, walkers and a few shipwrecks. The estuary is eight miles long and on a clear day from Topsham Quay you can see about half. Look out for the two ferries leaving Topsham – one goes to the Turf Hotel and one to, well, the other side of the estuary.
  • Things That Go Bump In The Town: A guest at The Globe was woken by the sounds of swirling flags and scarves, while at a Strand house a visitor saw an apparition of a hunchbacked woman. And in the 1800s, the Devil’s Footprints were spotted in snow in the area – there’s a Topsham Museum book about them…
  • Look Out For Stardust: Top folk band Show Of Hands are from Topsham (and once played to a full house of 14 in a cafe) while news icon Trevor McDonald has owned a home here for years, and Vivien Leigh’s local connections are celebrated at the museum. As for the residents – they reckon Topsham is a star in its own right!

Enjoyed our guide? Take a browse around the town’s website for everything you need to know about Topsham as a visitor or resident.

The Passage House Inn | Topsham pub