The ‘Ness’ is the prominent headland that dominates the mouth of the Teign estuary. You can follow the South West Coast Path to the top of the Ness to get spectacular views down onto Teignmouth and across the bay to the next headland where the Parson and Clerk rock formation can be seen.
The Ness headland consists of rock called breccia, i.e. composed of broken blocks or fragments cemented together by a fine-grained mass of material. The sandstone strata that now form the Ness were originally laid down in the Permian period, between about 300 and 250 million years ago, when all the Earth’s major land masses were collected into a single supercontinent known as Pangaea. The land that has ended up here was at the time much nearer the equator in desert conditions. The rock is fairly easily eroded, because hard beds of breccia alternate with softer beds of fine sandstone grains.
The Ness House Hotel is a Georgian property, built in 1810, on the outskirts of Shaldon village overlooking the Teign Estuary and only a stone’s throw from the beach. It is traditionally said to have been built on the site of an older, larger house. Twenty yards away the Smugglers Tunnel can be found, leading you down to the secluded Ness Beach, sheltered by the Ness Cliff.
The house has had many illustrious connections in its history. It was originally the residence of Lord Clifford of Chudleigh who was the Lord of the Manor. In the early twentieth century it belonged to the Holders, the shipping magnates and it is believed that they constructed the tunnel to the beach to give themselves easy access. In 1895 Henry Forbes Julian rented Ness House. He is famous for inventing and patenting the Patent Electrical Chemical Gold and Silver Extracting Apparatus. He died in the Titanic disaster in April 1912.
Teignmouth Urban District Council acquired the Ness estate in 1949 and leased out Ness House as a restaurant. It is now a hotel and restaurant.