ILFRACOMBE is a sea-port and market-town of Eng land, in the county of Devon. It is situated on the sides and at the base of steep ground on the borders of the Bris tol Channel. The town contains a number of good houses for the accommodation of bathers, which extend along the side of the harbour, and for nearly a mile to the west of it, where there is a good pebbly shore, and convenient bath ing machines. The church stands in the upper part of the town. It is a large plain structure, and contains a handsome monument, erected at the national expense, to the memory of Captain Bowen.
The harbour of Ilfracombe resembles a natural basin, surrounded by craggy heights, covered with foliage. The rocks ascend in a semicircular sweep on three sides, and on the north side a mass of rock projects nearly half way across the mouth of the recess, and protects the little cove from the northern tempests. This rock rises almost to a point where a light house, resembling a church, is erected. " Along the side of the same rock," says Mr. Warner, in his Walk through the Western Counties, "to the opening of the harbour, runs an artificial pier, judiciously construct ed, to prevent the accumulation of the sand ; so that by the joint assistance of the natural barrier, and this piece of masonry, ships of 230 tons burthen may ride completely land-locked, and of course perfectly safe from all the vio lence of the weather." Before the year 1731, this pier was
850 feet long ; but having been destroyed by the wind, an act of parliament was passed for repairing and enlarging it. and the harbour. It was partly rebuilt, lengthened, and enlarged, in 1760, by Sir Bourchier Wrey, Bart.
There is a daily intercourse, by means of a packet, which sails every other tide, with the town of Swansea, on the op posite coast of Wales.
On a high point near the bay, is a summer house, erect ed by Sir Bourchier Wrey, which commands a fine pros pect. Watermouth, the seat of Joseph Davie, Esq. is beautifully situated on an eminence about three miles to the east of the town.
The vessels which belong to Ilfracombe are chiefly employed in the coasting trade, in conveying ore, corn, &c. from Cornwall and Devonshire to Bristol, and also in fishing.
The following was the population of the town and parish in 1811.
Number of houses . . . . • 434 Number of families 434 Do. employed in trade 118 Do. in agriculture 57 Population 1934 Sce Polwhele's Survey of Devonshire ; Mason's Obser vations on the Western Counties ; and the Beauties of En gland and Wales, vol. iv. p. 267.