Plymouth Hoe - History and Facts | History Hit

Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Plymouth Hoe has been the starting point of historic journeys by Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook as well as many others.

Lily Johnson

18 Jun 2021

About Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe, known locally as “The Hoe”, has been the site from which many a historic voyage has set off, and today provides visitors a pleasant day out exploring the area’s many attractions.

Plymouth Hoe history

In 1588, Sir Francis Drake was reputedly playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe when the Spanish Armada was sighted off Cornwall heading east. Legend has it that on being told this, he replied, “there is time to finish the game and thrash the Spaniards too”.

As a scenic piece of land overlooking Plymouth Sound, The Hoe has seen some of history’s most famous names sail before it; Pocahontas, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Darwin, the surviving crew of the Titanic, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain James Cook, the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower, Sir Francis Chichester, and Lawrence of Arabia.

Notably, Captain Robert Falcon Scott was born in Plymouth and close to Plymouth Hoe is a memorial to his fatal last attempt on the South Pole. Other important memorials in Plymouth Hoe include the RAF Memorial, the Naval War Memorial, the National Armada memorial, the Burma Star, the Falklands War memorial, and the Drake Statue, situated at the site where he supposedly played that famous bowls game.

Plymouth Hoe today

Visitors to Plymouth Hoe can see its reconstructed Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse and the Royal Citadel, a 17th century fort built by Charles II to protect the coastline and keep the locals in line following the English Civil War. The art deco Tinside Lido also provides visitors a dip in its outdoor swimming pool in the summer months, with beautiful views out to sea.

Wandering its many memorials and staring out over Plymouth Sound, visitors can but image the nerves and excitement the area must have felt over the years, as eager travellers set off on their journeys.

Getting to Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe is located on Plymouth’s coast and can be reached via the A38 and A386, with Elphinstone Car Park a 10-minute walk to the site’s central area. Plymouth train station is a 20-minute walk away, while the 25 bus service stops on Hoe Road which runs through.