In the 18th and 19th centuries the British government was short of cash and tried to increase its income by raising taxes on imports from the continent. All sorts of goods became too expensive for ordinary folk to afford, including alcohol, tobacco and even tea! Bringing these goods in secretly by cover of night made smuggling a lucrative business along the Devon coast, and there are many accounts of run-ins between local mariners and the Excise men.
In the Fairlynch Cellar meet Jack Rattenbury, a local smuggling celebrity, who will tell you some of his adventures.
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!
From: A Smuggler’s Song by Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)