Elizabeth I granted Bideford`s charter in 1573, at the request of the Grenville family.
It began to develop as a successful port during the late 17th century, particularly for the import of tobacco, and there are some fine merchants` houses from this period.
St. Mary`s Church has an ancient tower and a Norman font. In the churchyard is buried a native American, probably the first to visit England and baptised as Christian Rawley in 1588.
Barnstaple Bridge over the Torridge was first built in the 15th century. It is 677 feet long and has 24 arches, each of a different width.
The Covered Market is a large one, and was built in 1883.
Charles Kingsley wrote "Westward Ho!" in a room at the 17th century Royal Hotel. There is a statue of him at the gates of Victoria Park.
Prominent people born at Bideford include Sir Richard Grenville, naval hero; John Nott, politician; and David Shepherd, cricket umpire.