Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe, referred to locally as the Hoe, is a large south facing open public space in the English coastal city of Plymouth. The Hoe is adjacent to and above the low limestone cliffs that form the seafront and it commands magnificent views of Plymouth Sound, Drake's Island, and across the Hamoaze to Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon word "Hoe", a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel.


rquote|right|John Lucas, sergeant, had 8d. for cutting Gogmagog.|An audit book of 1514.cite book|last=Bracken|first=C. W.|title=A History of Plymouth and her Neighbours|publisher=Underhill|location=Plymouth|date=1931|pages=4] Until the early 17th century large outline images of the giants Gog and Magog (or Goemagot and Corineus) had for a long time been cut into the turf of the Hoe exposing the white limestone beneath. [Cite book
publisher = The Mint Press
isbn = 1-90335-632-6
last = Gray
first = Todd
title = Lost Devon: Creation, Change and Destruction over 500 Years
location = Exeter, Devon
date = 2003
pages = 153
] [An early and explicit reference is made in Richard Carew (1602), "The Survey of Cornwall", text here: [] . Note that Carew refers to Plymouth Hoe as "the Hawe at Plymmouth".] These figures were periodically re-cut and cleaned. No trace of them remains today, but this likely commemorates the Cornish foundation myth, being the point from which the Giant was cast into the sea by the hero Corin.Fact|date=August 2008

Plymouth Hoe is perhaps best known for the probably apocryphal story that Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls here in 1588 before sailing out with the English fleet to engage with the Spanish Armada.

In the late 1660s, after The Restoration, a large stone fortress known as the Royal Citadel, was built at the eastern end of the Hoe. Its purpose was to protect the port and probably also to intimidate the townsfolk who had leaned towards Parliament during the Civil War. [cite book |title=The Buildings of England — Devon |author=Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner |publisher=Penguin |location=Harmondsworth [Eng.] |year=1989 |pages=648 |isbn=0 14 071050 7]

From 1880 there was a popular bandstand on the Hoe. It was removed for scrap metal during the Second World War and never rebuilt. [cite web
title=Plymouth, Hoe Bandstand
] A three tier belvedere built in 1891 survives;cite web
title=Plymouth, Belvedere and Bull Ring
] it was built on the site of a camera obscura, probably built in the 1830s, which showed views of the harbour. [cite web
title=Plymouth, Camera Obscura, The Hoe
] Below this site was the Bull Ring (now a memorial garden), and a grand pleasure pier, started in 1880, which provided a dance hall, refreshment, promenading and a landing place for boat trips. [cite web
title=Plymouth, Promenade Pier
] The pier was destroyed by German bombing in World War II.

There is an imposing series of Victorian terraces to the west of the naval memorial which previously continued to the Grand Hotel and, until it was destroyed by bombing, the grand clubhouse of the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The club then merged with the Royal Western and occupied the old public steam bath premises by the basin at West Hoe before moving in the late 1980s to Queen Anne Battery.


A prominent landmark on the Hoe is Smeaton's Tower. This is the upper portion of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, which was originally built on the Eddystone Rocks (22.5 km south) in 1759. It was dismantled in 1877 and moved, stone by stone, to the Hoe where it was re-erected.cite web | title = Eddystone Lighthouse | url = | publisher = Trinity House | accessmonthday = September 6 | accessyear = 2006]

Smeaton's Tower overlooks Tinside Pool, an unusual 1930s outdoor lido which sits upon the limestone shoreline at the base of the cliff. Most of the works to create the swimming areas and Madeira Road were carried out to make work for the local unemployed during the Depression.

A statue of Sir Francis Drake by Joseph Boehm (a copy of the original in his home town of Tavistock) was placed here in 1884 to commemorate him.cite book
title=The Buildings of England — Devon
author=Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner
location=Harmondsworth [Eng.]
isbn=0 14 071050 7
] There are also several war memorials along the northern side of the Hoe. The largest commemorates the Royal Naval dead of the two world wars; its central obelisk is by Robert Lorimer and was unveiled in 1924, while the surrounding sunken garden was added by Edward Maufe in 1954. [cite web
title=Plymouth, Naval War Memorial

The Hoe also includes a long broad tarmacked promenade (currently a disabled motorists car park) which serves as a spectacular military parade ground and which is often used for displays by Plymouth based Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Army garrison, as well as for funfairs and open-air concerts.

Set into the shape of the southern sea facing fortifications of the Royal Citadel is the world-renowned Marine Biological Laboratory and below and to the east, perched on the rocky foreshore is the clubhouse of the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club.


The Hoe is a popular area for Plymothians and visitors. There is always a great deal of activity on the water, including frequent warship movements, ferries going and coming from France and Spain, fishing trawlers and a swarm of larger and smaller sailing boats. The Fastnet yacht race ends here. There are annual three day national firework championships attracting tens of thousands of spectators.

For forty years, there has been controversy about development on the edges of the Hoe green space. The erection of two discount hotel chain box buildings, at the southern end of Armada Way and the other at the Sound end of Leigham Street, contrast with their Victorian surroundings. Application has been made to turn the Grand into flats and the long derelict yacht club site has now been filled by a modern block of flats. The Plymouth Dome, an idiosyncratic turret and domed building, built into a very small old quarry site above Tinside as an historical theme tourist attraction, failed to attract enough tourists or locals and has closed but may be converted into a cafeteria.

ee also

*Hooe, Plymouth, a small suburb of Plymstock located beside Hooe Lake.


External links

* [ Old photos of Plymouth Hoe]

* [ A local's photos of Plymouth Hoe]

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