E.T. L., 19th Century
Jacobs Ladder Sidmouth with Beer Head in the distance 1900
pencil and watercolour
12.50 x 17 cm.


An 18th C. lime kiln stood on cliff top at Jacob's Ladder th chalk brought by boat and carried up on donkeys. Changes in agriculture brought its decline. Later incorporated into grounds - of "Sea View". Formed foundations of pseudo-fort with clocktower, lookout, and boathouse complete with boat on davits. Jacob’s Ladder itself is the tall white set of steps that have been constructed to link the Gardens to the beach below. This is not, however, the first structure in this location. An access in this area actually dates back to the mid 19th Century when steps were cut into the cliff to give access to the beach below which had been largely inaccessible until then. This developed into a cart track that was used to transport lime (brought in by boat from places such as Branscombe) to the lime kiln which has now been converted into the Tea Rooms. The ongoing cliff erosion caused the path to fall in 1870 but access to the beach had become so popular with the Victorian population by this time that an extremely long ladder was built, like Jacob’s ladder to heaven, hence its name. The steep ladder was not popular though, being difficult to use in the dress of the day, and so a new ladder was constructed in much the same style as the steps of today. The chine with the zig-zag path down to the beach was not created until the 1950’s, the esplanade walk around the base of the cliff being completed a few years later. Jacob's Ladder starts from Connaught Gardens and then zig zags down to the beach.

The gardens were named after His Grace, The Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s third son. Although the Duke’s first visit to Sidmouth was not until 1931, the Royal link with Sidmouth continues back over a century earlier when the young Princess Victoria, aged only 6 months, visited with her parents and stayed in what is now the Royal Glen Hotel. It was the Duke himself who formally opened the Gardens on 3rd November 1934 at the age of 84. The plaque marking this grand opening is still clearly visible within the Gardens overlooking the main lawn.