Instow is a picturesque village situated on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet. It commands panoramic views of the estuary, the sea and the surrounding countryside. The Instow Parish has around 800 households and a population of 660 in the 2021 census, of which an estimate of 580 live within the village, with a small number living in outlying farms and cottages.
Developed in the early nineteenth century much of Instow has retained its character due to an enlightened policy of the Christie family who own Tapeley Park and a large part of the village. A major part of it is in a conservation area. Development of small groups of more modern housing has occurred in the last fifty years allowing a greater diversity of residents and many properties are second homes or holiday lets.
For those who like to eat and drink Instow has many pubs, hotels and restaurants. From South to North, The Quay, The Commodore, Instow Arms, The Boathouse and the Wayfarer. There are also many Bed and Breakfasts and several homes are also Airbnb or available for short term letting.
The village has a very well stocked deli shop (Johns) and Post Office on Marine Parade and a garage repair centre in Mollands yard near the Parish Hall. Situated between Barnstaple and Bideford it has all the advantages of village life but with excellent bus transport giving access to the facilities of large towns. The most frequent service being the Number 21 or 21A.
A small passenger ferry service, a Community Enterprise run by volunteers, operates between Instow and Appledore on the opposite shore, from April to October. Started in 2011 with the aid of grants from local organisations and the Lottery, it is popular with locals and visitors alike. Operating 2 hours either side of high tide, last year it carried over 28,000 passengers, plus bicycles, and dogs.
The Tarka Trail passes through Instow, providing an easy means for people to arrive by foot or on bike. This section of the Trail is also part of the South West Coast Path, offering longer walks along the coast.
Attractions and Facilities
Instow has an active sporting life. The beach and estuary attract many holiday makers, local families, swimmers and walkers. The long distance South West Coastal path runs through the village and the Tarka Trail with its excellent tarmac surface is a 180 mile long route forming part of National Cycle Network route number 27. The North Devon Yacht Club has had its home in Instow since 1905 and as well as a large adult membership it has a flourishing Cadet section. The North Devon Cricket Club, which was established in 1823 has an excellent ground with outstanding views, a unique pavilion and has long been a favourite of touring teams. The 11(ATT) Squadron Royal Marines based in the village at Arromanches Camp is a significant user of the sea and shore.
St. John The Baptist
The Grade 1 listed Church of St. John The Baptist is situated on a hill above the village and dates back to the C12 with extensive restoration in the Victorian period. The Church is open to visitors during the day usually being opened around 10 am and closed around 4 pm. There is a map of the churchyard at the back of the church along with a list of all the known graves. Visitors are welcome. There are regular Sunday services.
All Saints Chapel
Situated in the centre of the village next to the allotments was given by Napier Orphoot in 1936 as a 'Chapel of Ease' to give parishioners easier access to services. This small delightful building with Art Deco and Byzantine features has a garden with small play equipment for young children and a car park.
All Saints Community Centre
In 2011 All Saints Chapel use was extended to being a small community centre. As a 'Drop-In Centre' it aims to relieve social isolation, providing refreshments, light lunches and company. It has quickly established itself as an excellent venue for the community to meet informally, for regular activities or for organisations to hold committee meetings, parties or fairs. At present there is a regular drop in session between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm on Mondays, anyone is welcome.
Instow Community Primary School
Education has been provided in the village from as early as 1772 and today Instow has a thriving primary school with approx. primary 143 pupils and 26 preschool pupils, coming from the village and surrounding areas. It has been described by OFSTED a successful school which also noted the strong support from parents and the community.
Instow village hall
This was given to the Community by the Christies. It is regularly used for all kinds of activities.
The village has an active social life with regular activities including Table Tennis, Pilates, choirs, writing, keep fit and a Tai Chi Group, a Drama Group and a long established Twinning with Arromanches. There is a large very active WI with their own book groups, gardening club, walking club and craft club.
Good communication is achieved through a free monthly Parish Magazine which goes to over a 1000 households and outlets. All organisations are encouraged to contribute articles. A new residents' association is in the process of being formed.
Situated on the Tarka Trail at the south end of the village there is a famous old railway signal box. This is over 130 years old and was the UK's first Grade II listed signal box. It used to control the signals at Instow Station and also the operation of the level crossing. It is open to the public on occasional Sundays and Bank Holidays. An image can be viewed in our Photo Gallery.
Listed Buildings in Instow
There are many listed buildings in Instow and these can be viewed at British Listed Buildings in Instow.