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The Beacon was one of the most sought after roads in Exmouth. High up on the hill with sea views over the top of trees, it was built in 1792 and provided homes for several illustrious people as the blue plaques on the houses indicate.
Apart from the striking shutters on the Regency buildings, you can't help but notice the buildings are called things like Nelson House and Byron Court. Interesting. It turns out that Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's wife Frances 'Fanny' and her son Josiah Nisbet lived there between 1803-29. She had been abandoned by her husband who had started a public affair with Emma, Lady Hamilton.
A couple of doors down, the abandoned wife of Lord Byron, Anne Isabella 'Annabella' moved in in 1823 when it was a small hotel, after he treated her badly and they divorced. She was accompanied by her brilliant Mathematician daughter Ada, who on marriage became Countess of Lovelace. She assisted Charles Babbage, the pioneer of computing and she was the first computer programmer with the computer programming language ADA named after her.
Both high-profile wives seem to have a lot in common, I wonder if they ever spoke to each other. Fanny would have been twice as old as the 31 year old Anne at the time but they surely would have heard about each other as both marriages ended in scandal although in those days conversation would probably be restricted to more genteel things.
A couple more doors down the road were the Assembly Rooms which conjures up Jane Austen's novels and all those dances. This was one of the main attractions of the town and brought people from outside the area to spend time there.
Nowadays many of the buildings are hotels.
If you'd like to read an article about the ladies, follow this link.
How it used to be.