Sidmouth is a town situated on the English Channel coast in Devon, South West England, southeast of Exeter. It has a population of about 15,000, of whom 60% are over 65. It is a tourist resort and a gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A large part of it has been designated a conservation area.
Sidmouth was located in the ancient division of Devon known as East Budleigh Hundred, also known as Ermington Hundred. Sidmouth was an urban district between 1894 and 1974. In 1974 it became part of the East Devon district of Devon.
Sidmouth appeared in the Domesday Book as Sedemuda. Like many such settlements, it was originally a fishing village. Although attempts have been made to construct a harbour, none has succeeded. A lack of shelter in the bay prevented growth as a port.
Sidmouth remained a village until the fashion for coastal resorts grew in the Georgian and Victorian periods of the 18th and 19th centuries. The numerous fine Georgian and Regency villas and mansions are now mostly hotels.
In 1819, George III's son Edward, Duke of Kent, his wife, and baby daughter (the future Queen Victoria) came to stay at Woolbrook Glen for a few weeks. In less than a month he had died from an illness. The house later became the Royal Glen Hotel; a plaque on an exterior wall records the visit.
In 2008, Canadian millionaire, Keith Owen, who had vacationed in the town and planned to retire there, bequeathed the community's civic society, Sid Vale Association, about £2.3 million upon learning that he had only weeks to live due to lung cancer. The bequest is to be used as a capital fund to generate an annual interest dividend of around £120,000 for community projects.
NOTE: the Wikipedia article on Keith Owen has since been withdrawn.