Torre Abbey Museum Museum, Historic House, Gallery, Garden and Cafe

Est. in 1196, Torre Abbey is a museum of history and art housed in an Ancient Scheduled Monument on the iconic South Devon coast.

Based in Torquay, this family friendly museum is a centre for creativity and curiosity - initiating cultural conversations and inspiring local life through a seasonal programme of exhibitions, events and activities across visual arts, history and live performance.

Kids and teens up to 18 years go free, and the 1196 Club offers adult membership with unlimited visits from just £16 a year. Reasons aplenty to visit today.

It would be impossible to find a more appropriate showcase for Torbay’s art collection than historic Torre Abbey, home to some of theTorbay's leading citizens for over 800 years. The present appearance of the Galleries at Torre Abbey is largely due to the Cary family who, during the 18th century, refashioned the Abbey as a magnificent country house. Like all country houses, one of the Abbey’s functions was to provide an appropriate setting for its owners’ pictures and portraits, which as well as being intrinsically beautiful served to underline the family’s social standing by demonstrating their wealth, taste, patronage of the arts, and venerable family pedigree.

The present art collection is largely the result of donations or bequests made by local people since 1930, when the Council purchased Torre Abbey from the Cary family and turned it into an art gallery.

The Abbey's permanent collection is particularly rich in 19th century works. These generally reflect the taste of the genteel families, many from London, who bought villas in Torquay during the 19th century, in the days when it served as a fashionable winter resort. The collections include landscapes, marine and genre paintings by British artists, concentrating in particular on views of South Devon and its coastal waters, and works by local artists. The Friends of Torre Abbey was formed in 1992 to raise funds for the benefit of the collections, and has assisted with a number of recent purchases as well as making a substantial contribution to the restoration fund.

Torquay's Oldest Building

During a massive three-year restoration project some stunning finds have been unearthed including a 14th Century stone grave coverstone, featuring a tree-of-life carving in near-perfect condition. The slab was excavated from under the cloister walk and covered the grave of one of the Abbey's Saristan. Explore the ancient undercrofts of the Abbey, built in 1196 for the “White Canons”, named for their distinctive white habits.

The canons who lived here over 800 years ago, when Torquay did not exist and there was only a collections villages and small hamlets, followed a strict regime of silence and prayer. Their austere lives contrasted with their great wealth, gained from taxes or ‘tithes’ of grain and other produce from the Abbey’s vast lands. The Tithe Barn, built to store the grain, became known as the Spanish Barn after it served as a prison for 397 sailors captured from the Spanish Armada. This is now a popular and unique venue for exhibitions, weddings and special events.

Throughout the ages Torre Abbey has welcomed many thousands of visitors: weary travellers cared for by the canons, aristocrats and naval officers hosted by the Carys and Olympic hopefuls attending the 1947 sailing events in the bay. Visitors are now once again welcome to explore Torquay’s oldest and most fascinating building.

Torre Abbey
The King's Drive
tel: 01803 293 593

View my website

My Location

Profile Details

My News

Have you seen the Tattoo Exhibition @TorreAbbey  Survey -PRIZES / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-06-04T00:00:00Z">Mon 04 Jun 2018</span>Have you seen the Tattoo Exhibition @TorreAbbey Survey -PRIZES / Mon 04 Jun 2018

Have you been to see the Tattoo exhibition? Can you spare 5 minutes to give us some feedback? There are prizes and you will be helping the team! Thank you in advance...

Torre Abbey Museum bucks national trend for visitor numbers / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-04-26T00:00:00Z">Thu 26 Apr 2018</span>Torre Abbey Museum bucks national trend for visitor numbers / Thu 26 Apr 2018

Torre Abbey Museum has seen a 33.4% increase in visitor numbers (year end 31 March 2018) compared to footfall figures for the previous year. These recent figures represent the highest footfall at Torre Abbey Museum fo...

Tattoo Exhibition survey - win prizes!! / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-03-21T00:00:00Z">Wed 21 Mar 2018</span>Tattoo Exhibition survey - win prizes!! / Wed 21 Mar 2018

Have you been to see the Tattoo exhibition? Can you spare 5 minutes to give us some feedback? thanks in advance...

My Events

Ali-Way Scrapstore @TorreAbbeyMuseum / <span >Wed 04 Jul 2018</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2019-04-01T00:00:00Z">Mon 01 Apr 2019</span> <span>(9 months)</span>Ali-Way Scrapstore @TorreAbbeyMuseum / Wed 04 Jul 2018 to Mon 01 Apr 2019 (9 months)

10:00 to 15:00 The Learning Lab Entry - £0.00 First Thursday of Every month. 10am - 3pm. Ali-Way Community Scrapstore is a community, no for profit group that offers real work ...

Crafternoons @TorreAbbeyMuseum / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-04-12T00:00:00Z">Thu 12 Apr</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2018-12-31T00:00:00Z">Mon 31 Dec 2018</span> <span>(9 months)</span>Crafternoons @TorreAbbeyMuseum / Thu 12 Apr to Mon 31 Dec 2018 (9 months)

Bring your project and join other like minded crafters for a relaxed afternoon of creativity, sharing tips and ideas over tea and cake. Basic art room resources provided. Every Thursday 1pm - 3pm. Donations welcome...

Mindfulness Play Workshops / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-09-27T00:00:00Z">Thu 27 Sep</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2018-12-15T00:00:00Z">Sat 15 Dec 2018</span> <span>(3 months)</span>Mindfulness Play Workshops / Thu 27 Sep to Sat 15 Dec 2018 (3 months)

These workshops are the perfect way to give your child a gentle introduction to mindfulness. With playfulness and creativity at heart, each workshop offers a fun theme to explore as well as plenty of ways to begin to und...

My Opportunities

Torre Abbey Museum - Customer Service Assistant PT / Thu 28 Jun 2018

Torre Abbey Museum is looking for someone to join the team at our award winning museum. The Customer Service Role is a varied and interesting position whereby you will find yourself doing a wide variety of different j...

Artist Assistant wanted! / Mon 21 May 2018

Artist Assistant wanted! This Summer we are following in the footsteps of The Science Museum, London and The Corey Helford Gallery, Los Angeles to host Gile’s Walkers stunning robotic performance piece, The Last Suppe...

Education Officer - Torre Abbey Museum / Sun 20 May 2018

Torre Abbey is looking for a skilled Education Officer to join the team at our thriving museum. You will assist with the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the cultural education and skills programme, ...

My Videos

Face2Face is coming.....Face2Face is coming.....

The Face2Face exhibition is on all summer @Torreabbey full details Here...

Torbay Tattoo TalesTorbay Tattoo Tales

Tattoos can reveal personal stories, represent shared history and identity, as well as showcase artistry—or sometimes they just are what they are! The Torbay Tattoo Tales film was commissioned as part of a wider proje...

My Audio

Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon interviews Rodney Peppé

‘It's marvellous stuff… it's one of those things you look at and you see something new every time…’ Listen to Rodney Peppé talking about his latest exhibition, The Wonderful World of Rodney Peppé at Torre Abbey. Full de...

Jo Loosemore on BBC Radio Devon interviewing Rodney Peppé

‘Prepare you‘re about to travel in a pirate kettle ship, possibly even a flying basket, a travel machine, a clockwork bus, in a lunar module egg box…. This is the wonderful world (…) of Rodney Peppé.’ Listen to Rodney P...