Abbey Park, Torre Abbey Sands and Sandyman
Visitors to Torquay have probably come to enjoy the sea air as much as anything, and a short walk from Torre Abbey
through Abbey Park will bring you to the seafront and Torre Abbey Sands.
Abbey Park lies in front of the Riviera Centre and has some low-key sporting facilities such as tennis and crazy golf if you like that sort of thing, but the gardens, with their sub-tropical plants and water features are what I like, and in particular, the Italian Garden which is a riot of colour during the summer.
If you’re not in any rush to get the sand between your toes, you might also want to check out the One World Café and Bistro which is the ideal place for doing absolutely nothing for an hour or so.
Torre Abbey is undoubtedly the single most important medieval building in Torbay, and although its appearance has changed over the years, it should be on every visitor’s list of things to see.
Founded in 1196 by Canons of the Premonstratensian (!) order they became wealthy landlords adding the ‘quay’ to Torre.
They carried on their business for over 300 years until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
During the reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I, one of the Spanish Armada’s galleons, the Nuestra Senora del Rosario, was captured by Sir Francis Drake and its crew of 397 were imprisoned in the abbey barn – known ever since as the Spanish Barn.
The remains and ruins of the medieval abbey are still here to be seen, but successive owners started to change the abbey into a comfortable home, and in 1662 it fell into the hands of the Cary family.
The Cary family are one of Torquay’s most notable families with a long history and they stayed here right up until 1930 when they sold it to the Borough of Torquay for £40,000.