Archive for History

Visit to Torquay, Torre Abbey and “Bygones”

Continuing our day trip to Torquay we walked round the bay and up to Torre Abbey.

Torre Abbey is a historic building and art gallery in Torquay, Devon. It was founded in 1196 as a monastery for Premonstratensian canons, and is now the best-preserved medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall. In addition to its medieval and Georgian rooms, Torre Abbey is known for the formal gardens, for the third largest art collection in the county of Devon and for regular exhibitions by contemporary artists.DSC03434

It was on 4 floors, the top floor giving us the history over 800 years.DSC03437

In the gardens outside is a Palm House, smaller than those at Kew Gardens but just as interesting with a wide range of plants.DSC03438



And a lily pond.


Next to that was the “Arid House” containing cacti and succulents.DSC03441

Leaving Torre Abbey we walked to the Front and caught the 22 bus to Babbacombe to visit the museum called “Bygones”.  It was a step into the past and like taking a trip down memory lane as we explored the displays of genuine objects from 1837 to the 1950s.DSC03442

On the ground floor there were displays like Victorian shops.DSC03443

On the first floor was more of Victorian life with period set rooms,DSC03447




and even a full size 27 ton steam engine.DSC03452

The 2nd floor housed wartime display and a walk through an immersive trench.  In the shopping arcade were shelves hosting many different products in their original 50s packaging.DSC03451


Two more interesting places to visit for all the family.

We caught the 22 bus back to the harbour and had a pot of tea whilst waiting for our coach.  A great day out was thoroughly enjoyed by us.


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Sunday was a glorious sunny day and we visited Hestercombe House and Gardens, north of Taunton with Neil’s sister Carole and our friend Liz. The Hestercombe Gardens Trust was set up in 1997 to restore these world famous garden to their full glory.  The oldest part of the house dates back to 1280. It was owned by the family of Sir John de Warre for 500 years and went through quite a transformation in that time.  After Elizabeth Warre died the estate was bought by the 1st Viscount Portman and was later lived in by the Hon Teddy Portman, his grandson.  Teddy Portman died in 1911 but his wife continued to live in the house until her death in 1951 aged 96.


In 1953 the newly formed Somerset Fire Brigade rented the house as its new headquarters and continued there until 2006.  In November 2013 the Hestercombe Gardens Trust acquired the freehold of the house and formal gardens and opened the house to the public in May 2014 for the first time in over 800 years.  The inside of the house has a contemporary art gallery and a 2nd hand bookshop.


Outside the gardens are lovely with a number of lakes and a hydro electric plant. Over one of the lakes is a steep bridge which Neil posed on.


With still water and beautiful sunshine the reflections in the lake were splendid.


The Landscape Garden was built in the 18th century and throughout the garden are various seats, each with a view like a landscape painting.



We stopped a fellow walker and asked them to take a picture of all 4 of us.


This is the house from the garden.



And I just loved this single water lily.


The Portman family commissioned Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll to create the Edwardian Formal Garden in 1903 which took 5 years to complete.



All in all it was a great visit, with a stop for tea and cake.  Easily reached from Lodge House B&B. If you fancy a visit, come and stay with us



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Visit to Midelney Manor, Somerset

Today we visited Midelney Manor with the Combe St Nicholas History Group.  This is privately owned house, which is Grade 1 listed and was built in the late 16th Century in two distinct halves by brothers Richard & Thomas Trevillian.


The manor house is sited on a former island site and was the property of Mulcheney Abbey before being passed to the Trevillian family after the dissolution of the monasteries.  We were shown around by Alice who lives there with her family and is a direct descendent of the Trevillian family.

Inside the lounge was a lovely fireplace and around the walls hung pictures of the ancestors.


The gardens were lovely, mostly being walled with flower beds.


We went through a doorway in the walls,


to where the flower beds were full of blue cornflowers.


The land extended to the back where there were some handsome massive trees and a paddock.


At the end of the tour we were invited in for a cream tea which was much needed and well appreciated.  Midelney Manor is just half an hour’s drive from us at


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The Courthouse, Chard

On Saturday the Courthouse at Chard was open for visitors as a one off for the Chard Festival. The Town Crier was out in his finery announcing what was going on.


The Courtroom is a very old building dating back to the 1640’s and part of a complex of ancient buildings in Chard.  This floor plan shows the age of these buildings.  We went through the first passageway on the left to the light blue building and up the stairs to the courtroom.


This is an outside view.


We went through the door way and past a really old door.


then up the stairs and into the courtroom.

The windows were mullioned and had leaded glass, which was not original but had been replaced as part of a restoration.


The most striking aspect of the courtroom are the plaster murals and decorative ceiling.


The murals on the end of the wall where the judge would be seated all had meanings which people of the time would have fully understood.

There was the judgement of Solomon.


And David in the lions den.


meaning that if you innocent then no harm will befall you.

It is said that the infamous Judge Jefferys known as the “Hanging Judge” presided here in 1685 and Taunton as part of the “Bloody Assizes” after the failure of the Monmouth rebellion.

The mural on the far end of the room represents a Phoenix rising from the ashes, which symbolises Chard rising again from the large fire of 1577 which destroyed a large part of the town.

Certainly an interesting visit and good to learn a little of the history of our nearest town.

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