Ilfracombe’s hidden gems – independent stores, shops and artisans
Many people do not realise the wealth of independent shops and artisan-inspired boutiques that Ilfracombe has to offer, from fantastic fresh local produce to some truly unique stores selling the wares of talented local crafters and makers.
There is no out-of-town retail park in the traditional sense, which is just how local people like it, because you can pick up almost anything you need simply by walking the length of the High Street and Fore Street or paying a visit to the harbour area for even more shops and stores.
For visitors especially, scratch the surface and you will find a treasure trove of boutiques stocked with a huge range of gift ideas from home furnishings to incredible ornaments, artwork and craftwork to a high standard – much of it created within a few miles of the store.
Here, we introduce you to just a very few of Ilfracombe’s finest stores, makers and emporiums…
Meet your makers
Embodying the artisan spirit of Ilfracombe’s stores is Forty Three in Fore Street, a co-operative space where local crafters and makers can exhibit and sell their creations.
Visitors are very welcome to browse a huge range of hand-crafted gifts including paintings, prints, textiles, glasswork, ceramics, paper crafts, jewellery, soaps and candles. There is also a wide range of handmade greetings cards too.
Juul at Home is another Fore Street destination that offers gifts with a difference. Browse a unique and diverse collection of eclectic homeware, ethical products, furniture, mid-century modern retro, clothing, vegan-friendly toiletries, jewellery and much more. The aim is to offer items that are both beautiful and useful.
For something very different to create a talking point in your home, try Clarence’s of Ilfracombe in the High Street, with a very eclectic blend of handmade, vintage and retro items.
The boutique store boasts a carefully curated collection of gifts and essentials for the home, such as scented soy candles, beautiful mugs, unusual cushions and tableware.
Vintage cameras turned into table lamps, fire extinguisher lamps, upcycled furniture and furnishings and much more is available in the store and online, many of them one-of-a-kind creations that you will find nowhere else. The business specialises in lighting, furniture, wall art and homeware.
There is also a range of fun, quirky, thought provoking and engaging prints that will add something to any home.
The Gift Gallery in the High Street does exactly what it says on the tin and is the perfect place to find that special birthday or Christmas present, or simply just to treat yourself to something nice.
This family-run shop really does have a bit of everything, far too much to list here – and that would spoil the delight of browsing!
Examples include an exquisite range of jewellery from fine sterling silver, pewter, copper to dress jewellery for everyday wear or special occasion.
Stunning Ashleigh & Burwood Fragrance lamps and diffusers, local handmade Lyn candles created from soy/essential oil and diffusers and wax melts, plus vases and homeware.
There are also original watercolours, prints, cards, mugs, cushions and postcards featuring Ilfracombe, by in-house artist Martin Jones.
Local handmade crafts, from felting and ceramics to glass and driftwood, plus traditional wooden toys, dolls and accessories and puppets all feature in the store too! Definitely one to browse!
One constant about Ilfracombe is Chas N Pedlar, more commonly known simply as Pedlar’s and at the heart of the High Street.
This year the business celebrates 100 years and has been under the wing of the same family for almost all of that time.
What can you get at Pedlar’s? Almost anything and everything!
Still following the lines of the traditional department store started up a century ago, Pedlar’s offers home and hardware, furnishings, clothing, ornaments, tools, household items and a range of exquisite ceramics, glass and porcelain.
One thing local shoppers have learned – if you are struggling to find a particular item, you should have gone to Pedlar’s first!
Expect a warm welcome as well as highly knowledgeable staff who will know exactly what is in stock and can offer suggestions to guide your purchase.
Model-making enthusiasts should make a beeline for Mark’s Models in the High Street, which stocks a huge choice of plastic model kits of aircraft, cars, military vehicles and ships from most of the big name brands. Plus accessories – paint brushes, Humbrol Enamel and Acrylic, Revell Enamel and Acrylic and Tamiya Acrylic paint.
There is a range of model railway items in ‘N’ and ’00’ gauge with manufacturers including Peco, Ratio, Wills, Bachmann, Dapol, Knightwing and Graham Farish, plus track, accessories, scatter and rolling stock.
The store also offers a commission service from, building a bespoke model to a standard kit, as well as building from scratch – for example a model of an old cinema is being created for a council in Middlesbrough.
From January 2023 there will be Saturday morning model making sessions, where people can come in and build a model, have a natter and enjoy building in company – open to all ages and abilities.
Proper fresh local produce
Whether you are visiting Ilfracombe or you are blessed to live in North Devon, there is plenty of fresh local produce to choose from at a variety of independent and family-run businesses that always go the extra mile for their customers.
For more than 50 years, Mike Turton Butchers in the High Street has provided local families and visitors with a mouth-watering array of home- reared and locally sourced meats for all occasions.
From barbecues to family roast dinners, Christmas, or just something for tea, the knowledgeable staff can help and advise you on the best choice to meet your needs.
If you’re looking for something special, or need any special information such as allergy advice relating to products, just get in touch.
There is also a range of cheeses, cooked meats, pasties and pastries too.
Making waves in the marmalade world is The Proper Marmalade Company, produced in Ilfracombe and founded by the queen of North Devon preserves, Victoria Cranfield.
There is not enough toast in the world to accommodate the huge range of marmalades on offer, from traditional ‘Proper Marmalade’ to a massive flavoured range falling under the ‘Improper Marmalade’ label.
Whether you are looking for straight up marmalade or something a bit different, there is something to suit all tastes, such as winter spiced marmalade, mulled wine, blood orange, pink grapefruit, the choice is huge. These can be purchased online, and are also stocked at Ilfracombe Tourist Information Centre in the Landmark.
The award-winning business has been commissioned to work with some big names including celebrity Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines as well as approached by TV’s Kirstie Allsopp to appear in two of her Channel 4 programmes; Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas and Kirstie’s Handmade Britain, as well as Paul Hollywood’s Pies & Puds and Ainsley Harriet’s Good Mood Food.
There is a huge selection of hand-made artisan chocolate, as well as a Chocolate Museum (complete with six-foot tall chocolate man!) plus fudge and sweets, gift hampers and the opportunity to join a workshop to make your own chocolate.
Run by chocoholics for chocoholics, the High Street business has been a feature in the town for many years, creating handmade chocolate on the premises for any and every occasion.
There is also Devon fudge in several flavours and a range of sweets to choose from.
The store’s range is constantly changing and there are choices to accommodate dietary needs including gluten free, dairy free, vegan suitable, and a delicious no added sugar/sugar free range.
The Emporium’s opening hours can be seasonal, so please check the website for opening times.
This is just a snapshot of just a few of Ilfracombe’s many independent businesses, makers and producers.
Check out our shopping pages to see many more examples of the best the town has to offer.
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