Westward Ho! is a popular seaside resort in north Devon, near Bideford and has the distinction of being the only place name in the British Isles that has an exclamation mark in its official name. It has a long sandy beach, which attracted Victorian visitors, but lacked holiday accommodation.
Charles Kingsley published the novel, ‘Westward Ho!’ in 1855, which was set in Bideford. Today, it would be called a “best seller” and attracted visitors to the area who were developing a passion for sea bathing. In 1864, a family hotel and lodging houses were built and given the name of Westward Ho! Hotel to be associated with the novel. As tourism increased and more holiday accommodation was needed, the whole village acquired the name of Westward Ho!.