Barnstaple (bärnˈstəpəl) [key], town (1991 pop. 24,490), Devon, SW England, on the Taw River estuary. The river is spanned there by a 16-arch stone bridge dating from the 13th cent. Barnstaple is the chief marketing town of north Devon and a tourist center. Gloves, pottery, bricks, tiles, furniture, and lace are manufactured. Barnstaple once carried on a large woolen export trade with the American colonies. John Gay, famous for The Beggar's Opera, was born in Barnstaple.