Honiton is a beautiful old market town and just a 15 minute drive from Blackdown Barn. If antiques & afternoon teas are your thing, you don't want to miss a visit!
The town grew along the line of the Fosse Way, the ancient Roman road linking Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) to Lincoln (Lindum) on which it was an important stopping point. The location is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Honetone, meaning a farm belonging to Huna. It became an important market town, known for its lace making that was introduced by Flemish immigrants in the Elizabethan era. In the 17th century thousands of people produced lace by hand in their homes, and later in the 19th century Queen Victoria had her wedding dress made of Honiton lace. The town also became known for its pottery. In the mid-18th century the town was largely destroyed by fire. Georgian houses were then built to replace some of those that had been destroyed. Honiton more than doubled in size between the 1960s and 2005, with most development taking place south of the Exeter to Waterloo railway line.
The Hot Pennies ceremony takes place annually on the first Tuesday after 19 July in the High Street of the town, and dates back to the reign of King Stephen. The ceremony has its roots in the practice of landed gentry taking pleasure in throwing hot pennies from windows to local peasants, a seemingly philanthropic gesture resulting in burns. The custom also had the purpose of encouraging people to travel to the town from the surrounding area to attend a subsequent fair.
At noon, the Town Crier accompanied by the Mayor and other local dignitaries, raises a garlanded pole with gloved hand at the top, and proclaims that "no man may be arrested so long as this glove is up". Warm pennies are then thrown from a number of balconies in the High Street to crowds of local people. The pole is then kept on display for the following "fair week".