Torre Abbey

The best-preserved medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall is now a popular art gallery, with specialist exhibits exploring 19th-century paintings.

Learn about the history of Torre Abbey and the roles it has played throughout English history. See historic paintings by famous artists, with collections ranging from battle scenes and marine landscapes to images of the pre-industrial British countryside and historical portraits. Wander the beautiful gardens and admire a wide variety of exotic plants.

Discover the origins of this historic building. Founded in 1196, Torre Abbey began as a monastery for Canons of the Premonstratensian order. Imagine what life would have been like for one of these 12th-century canons, who led austere lives yet were supported by servants and generated extraordinary amounts of wealth.

See works of art by a number of widely admired artists, including William Blake and Pietro Calvi. Enjoy paintings which immortalized historic battles in the ages before photography and explored the nature of conflict through imagined settings. Admire scenes of rural Britain pre-industrialization, with paintings of picturesque cottages, horse-drawn plows and open fields. Examine collections exploring Britain’s maritime history, which include scenes from the local area. Other collections focus on Torquay’s history of tourism and portraits of historical figures.

Stroll through the gardens, which are nestled behind the main house. Relax in the beautiful setting, enjoy a picnic or read a book while surrounded by exotic and rare plants. See award-winning collections of herbaceous perennials, roses and dahlias, all within a formal 19th-century landscape around the abbey ruins. Visit the enclosed medieval collection, exploring plants of the age and their uses. Explore the Agatha Christie display, based entirely on the often-poisonous plants appearing in the crime author’s work.

Find Torre Abbey outside of Torquay, just 10 minutes away by car. Two parking lots are a few minutes’ walk from the abbey, with limited parking at the abbey itself for disabled visitors who obtain a permit beforehand. The abbey is open from Wednesday to Sunday most weeks, though it does close at certain times of the year. Check the website for up-to-date information. There is a charge to see the museum, with concessions available and cheaper tickets for gardens-only visits.

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