The village centre harks back to a bygone era when it was part of the Cockington Manor Estate: It has all the quintessential ingredients of what every visitor’s idea of an old Devon village should look like; a place where thatched cottages with hanging baskets entice people into their gift shop or garden for the obligatory Devon ‘Cream Tea’, but there’s more to Cockington than that, and in a separate article I will be describing the estate that surrounds the village which is now a 420-acre Country Park. In this blog though, I’m going to give a short introduction as to how the ancient manor became what it is today and what the village has to offer.
Not only does a visit offer an insight into how Torquay developed from the time Torre Abbey was founded in 1196, you can also impress your friends by telling them it was occupied by the Canons of the Premonstratensian order. These wealthy landlords were responsible for adding the ‘quay’ to Torre, and were here for over 300 years until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
Preston sits between Old Paignton and the boundary with Torquay at Hollicombe, and over the years has expanded up the hill inland, but from a visitor’s perspective the main points of interest are the beach, known as Preston Sands, and Oldway Mansion.
At low tide Preston Sands are a continuation of Paignton Beach, but is generally regarded as the shoreline between the Redcliffe Hotel and Hollicombe Head. It’s a safe beach ideal for sunbathing and swimming, as well as rock-pooling at Hollicombe Head.
In those days, the area just inland from the beach was backed by sand dunes and marshland, which meant that the settlement grew up slightly inland where the land was drier.
The origins of Old Paignton village are located around Palace Avenue, Church St, and Winner St, the names of which give a clue as to what was here. Winner Street gets its name from Wynerde, (or vineyard), and reflects its association with the palace’s trade in wine.