If you like to spend a few days soaking up a little history during your holiday then you’ll be spoilt for choice whilst self-catering in Torquay. The original English seaside town, Torquay has a past as colourful as its gardens, and there are numerous trails and attractions to make exploring it fun for all ages.
Whether you choose to wander the historic Cockington village, visit the chilly Kents Cavern or explore the layered past of Torre Abbey, you’ll be amazed at the events and people that have shaped the town.
Devon’s most ancient secret is a must-see for anyone staying in holiday accommodation in Torquay with a passion for history. The caves date back to the prehistoric period, and have been the scene of hundreds of important fossil and archaeological discoveries over the years. These natural caves have wowed the science world and historians since they were unearthed in 1751, and its evidence of prehistoric human life has made it world famous. The cavern is open to all ages and guided tours are included in the admission price.
Torquay Museum is a great starting place if you’re looking for an insight into the heritage of the town and its people. The museum is the oldest in Devon, and was founded in 1844. The museum building was built in 1874 and houses a surprising amount of collections for its modest size! The artefacts and topics displayed in the museum range from natural history, to social history, archaeology, palaeontology and much more.
Torquay’s seafront just wouldn’t be the same without the spectacular Torre Abbey in the background, and some of its secrets might just surprise you…Torre Abbey started life as a monastery in 1196, and was later home to the infamous Cary family and is now a family attraction and art gallery.
The Spanish Barn on the grounds earned its name when Sir Francis Drake captured Spanish prisoners and kept them inside it at the time of the Spanish Armada . Behind the abbey, the stunning gardens are open to visitors today, and are well worth a look during a self-catering Torquay holiday. In fact, Agatha Christie used to use them as inspiration when writing her poisonous plots!
The Cary family were one of Torquay’s most influential in their day, and the beautiful Cockington Court was owned by them between 1375 and 1654. The historic village of Cockington is less than a mile from Torquay’s seafront but a world away at the same time! This Domesday Book village is almost exactly as it’s always been and there is history to walk through, admire and learn at every corner.
Cockington Court sits at the centre of a grand estate, and the nearby forge, thatched cottages and Drum Inn make this village a fascinating glimpse into Torquay’s past. If you’re staying in self-catering Torquay accommodation, you may wish to note that it’s a great spot for a cream tea!
The Pavilion is one of Torquay’s prettiest historic buildings, and although now a shopping centre it was once the hub of elegant social events! The Pavilion started life as a ‘Palace of Pleasure’ and was opened in 1912. Today, it forms a great example of the architecture of the Victorian era, and it once held concerts, dances, plays and other gatherings – not bad considering it was built on land reclaimed from the sea!