Historic House and Gardens in and near Torquay
Historic Houses and Gardens to Visit all year in and around Torquay
Most of the historic houses and gardens in and around The English Riviera and south Devon stay open throughout the year and so visiting them need not be a pursuit just confined to the summer months.
Torre Abbey hsitoric house and garden torquay.
A religious order of White Friars was established on flat ground close to the sea many years before anything else in the area existed with the possible exception of a small collection of fishermens' hovels close to where the current harbour is. This monastery of White friars grew to become particularly wealthy and was one of the richest in the whole of England. Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries meant that its wealth was stripped and the community expelled and scattered. A short time after that, the Cary family took up residence and it became their main home. This family along with others such as the Palks were mainly responsible for the development of the Torquay that we see today particularly the legacy of fabulous Victorian villas. By 1930's the family had run out of money and they were forced out of Torre Abbey and so it became a museum and home to our municipal art collection.
Today, after two major renovation projects, visitors can enjoy the full beauty of the place and learn more of its extraordinary history. In addition its possible to enjoy the stunning walled gardens where there is an arid house and a palm house as well as an Agatha Christie inspired poison garden.
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Greenway - holiday home of Torquay born Agatha Christie
Torquay was where crime writer Agatha Christie was born. The Queen of Crime drew massive inspiration from the area and it is possible to follow in her foot steps around this area of South Devon visiting the places she knew and loved best. Established as a writer by 1930's Agatha was able to buy Greenway perched above the banks of The River Dart. Today, this wonderful property is looked after by the National Trust so visitors are able to see where Agatha Christie went for relaxation and holidays and from where she also drew inspiration for stories. Click here for more information about opening times, location and admission charges etc
Coleton Fishacre - cliff top house and garden a short distance from Torquay
This property is another owned and operated by The National Trust is about a twenty five minute drive from The Muntham Apartments and lies between Brixham and Dartmouth. It was built for the D'Oyly Carte family who owned The Savoy Theatre in London, the house is Arts and Crafts in style and has Art Deco interiors. A particular aspect of the property are the stunning cliff top gardens that run down to a cove below. The gardens are open to visitors with dogs although the house is not. Click here for admission charges and opening times etc.
This is another National Trust's English Riviera portfolio of properties and has been the home of the Gilbert family for nearly six hundred years. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was one of Queen Elizabeth I's "sea dogs" and was half brother to sir Walter raeligh. It is unusual in southern England particularly as it is a surviving medieval fortress. Visitors get to see the main parts of the castle and have full access to the grounds and in particular the famous rose gardens. Click here for admission charges and opening times etc.
Buried deep in the countryside outside Toruay and Paignton, this castle occupies a rocky outcrop and was originally home to the Pomeroy family who needed an easily defended home in the troubled years leading up to the Wars of the Roses. It later passed into the Seymour family one of whose family members was Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII and mother of Edward VI. The property saw massive building programmes in both the Tudor periods and the later Jacobite periods and the home that was created was astoundingly beautiful and beyond anything else that had been built in the south west of England. The fortunes of each of the families had waxed and waned but the Seymours were adroit at steering their way through difficult times and still own the property today. At the beginning of the 1700's they stripped the property of anything they could use elsewhere and it was allowed to fall into ruin. Today, glimpses of the magnificence are still evident at a castle reputed to be the most haunted in England. The castle is managed by English Heritage.
This National Trust property near Salcombe is a must for anyone with a love of gardens. It is a pain to get to not because it's far away but because the roads are narrow and the journey quite bitty. Having said that it is 100% worth the efffort. This is another property perched on a cliff with sea views and views over The Salcombe Estuary. The house was built for inventor Otto Overbeckand was a replacement for one previously on the site. To take advanatge of its cliff top setting, the replacement house was set back further to allow for a larger terrace at the front of the house overlooking the sea. It is really nothing special architecturally although it does have some fascinating things in it including Otto's art collection, an example of his "rejuvenator" and the marvelous polyphon music machine which staff happily play. It has an interesting history including a spell as a hospital in World War I - the real star are the gradens. These are the warmest gardens of any National Trust property on the mainland of the United Kingdom and as a result plants grow here that cannot be grown anywhere else. After visiting Overbeck's visitors can walk out onto the cliffs and experience spectacular sea and coastal views. Click here for admmission charges and opening times etc.
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