Torre Abbey

Torre Abbey

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Welcoming visitors for over 800 years…

Torre Abbey is Torbay’s most historic building, an ancient scheduled monument dating back to 1196 and set within 18 acres of garden and parkland. It’s also a multi-award-winning visitor attraction housing an impressive art collection boasting over 600 incredible works of art from the 18th century to the present day. Meanwhile, our 800 Years Gallery uses state-of-the-art technology to tell the abbey’s fascinating story through videos, talking portraits and interactive displays.

This Torbay Council-owned museum and gardens is also a centre for creativity and culture, offering events and workshops as well as hosting world class exhibitions alongside creative work from the cream of local talent. We also pride ourselves on being family friendly with a range of activities available for youngsters, both inside the historic buildings and outside in our stunning gardens as well.

Family visiting Torre Abbey in Devon


Torre Abbey is an archaeological site of national importance. Founded in 1196, it became the wealthiest English monastery of the order of Premonstratensian canons. The extent of its survival makes Torre Abbey the best-preserved medieval abbey in Devon and Cornwall. After King Henry VIII closed the monastery in 1539, two of its former ranges were adapted for use as a private house. From 1662, this house became the home of the Cary family, who lived here for nearly 300 years.

Art and Culture

The local council acquired Torre Abbey in 1930 and adapted it for use as an art gallery and the Mayor’s Parlour. Today the abbey provides an ideal setting for Torbay’s collection of paintings and antiques, most of which have been donated by local people. Several times a year, Torre Abbey welcomes visiting art exhibitions from partners including the V&A, the Tate and the Arts Council Collection. We organise a programme of activities to complement these dynamic and varied exhibitions.

Your Visit

Based over four floors, your visit will begin by exploring the Medieval Undercrofts before visiting our 800 Years Gallery to explore the history of the abbey using the latest technology. You’ll then want to explore our various art galleries, with our permanent collection featuring works by William Holman Hunt, William Blake and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Leave plenty of time to visit our stunning interior gardens, romantic ruins and our palm and cacti houses. Visit the plan your visit page for more help.

Family Friendly Activities

We recognise that children are the museum visitors of tomorrow, so we want them to have the best experience possible. With this in mind, we have interactive displays, dressing up areas and an area called The Hidden House for youngsters to explore. We also have free activity sheets that you can pick up at the main desk. We also organise regular treasure hunts and other workshops and activities which tie-in with our visiting exhibitions.

Family Discovering a Historic Exhibition

The Gardens

Our award-winning gardens are the pride of Torbay and a real oasis of calm away from the busy seafront. With a wealth of exotic and exciting plants, the gardens are a tranquil haven of beauty and pleasure and the perfect setting in which to relax, stroll or picnic. Exuberant plantings of herbaceous perennials, roses and dahlias sit in the formal 19th century landscape around the abbey ruins.

The heated glasshouses, containing tropical and desert plants, are a treat for the senses whatever the season. A new medieval children’s garden is a garden within a garden and has been lovingly created to entice people, of all ages, into the fascinating world of medieval plants and their uses. Turf seats, willow tunnels, sensory planting and a fountain offer the opportunity to explore, look, touch, and taste.

Torre Abbey kids in the garden

Exterior Grounds and The Spanish Barn

The grounds surrounding Torre Abbey are popular with dog walkers, cyclists, families and anyone fancying some fresh air against a stunning backdrop. They are free to use throughout the year and make a lovely place for a stroll or somewhere to sit down when you are exploring the seafront area of Torquay.

The Spanish Barn, adjacent to the house, is so named because it played an important role housing 397 prisoners from the Spanish Armada. The prisoners were taken from the only galleon captured during the conflict – the Nuestra Senora del Rosario. Today this former tithe barn is opened for special events and is popular for weddings, art exhibitions, theatre and music.

Gift Shop

Our gift shop is open during abbey opening hours, selling unique gifts that you are unlikely to find on the high street. Free to visit without purchasing museum entry, the shop sells everything from locally produced wine, beers and gin to preserves, confectionery, books and artworks. You’ll also find traditional toys, gardening accessories, cards, books and other souvenirs. You can also purchase Torre Abbey Guidebooks and Annual Memberships.

Learning Lab

Our Learning Lab provides impressive on-site educational facilities and offers a wide variety of regular and one-off workshops. These include everything from forest school, memory café and mindfulness workshops, to drama, art, music and craft sessions for both children and adults alike. Keep an eye on our events page for up-coming workshops.
Torre Abbey Cafe

Serving teas, coffees, delicious cakes and sandwiches. Open seven days a week. Dog’s very welcome.


Torre Abbey offers an impressive year-round events programme that includes our Open Air Cinema Festival in August, the International Agatha Christie Festival in September, and our Winter Fest craft fair every Christmas. We also organise a unique programme of events to complement our visiting art exhibitions. We also welcome a number of external events taking in everything from classic car shows to music festivals and wedding fairs to chocolate festivals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Torre Abbey Free?

There is an entrance charge. Tours are free but spaces limited (maximum of 15 per tour) It is recommended that your reserve a space in advance.

How much is entrance to Torre Abbey?

Prices are- Adults £9.50, Children 5-18 £3.70 Under 5.s free and a family tickets (2 adults, including children is £21.

How old is Torre Abbey?

Torre Abbey is Torbay’s most historic building, an ancient scheduled monument dating back to 1196 and set within 18 acres of garden and parkland.

Is Torre Abbey dog friendly?

Assistance dogs are welcome at the museum. Non-assistance dogs are very welcome in the café but cannot enter the house or gardens. Staff will be happy to provide drinking water for your dog.

Who owns Torre Abbey?

Torre Abbey is owned and managed by Torbay Council.

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An awesome digital immersion in an ancient masterpiece.

Open your eyes to a startling hi-tech way to view art now exhibited at Torre Abbey.

The digital experience created by the National Gallery allows you, standing in your own private pod, to enter a 4d sonic and visual immersion in the ‘Adoration’ painted by Gossaert between 1510 and 1515.

There are surprises and, above all, the chance to zoom into magical, otherwise invisible details like the tiny specs of golden dust in a gown, or the multiple colours in the pearl fringe of Balthazar’s crown.

Just fourteen minutes that will enhance your appreciation of one artist’s technique and vision while sharpening your ability to ‘Sense the Unseen’ in an unfamiliar work of art.

Then enjoy your wander around the Abbey absorbing its 800 year history. That’s a lot of enjoyment for £9.50!

Roberty87 Dec.2022

So much to do ad see, give yourself plenty of time.

We underestimated how long it would take to see everything at Torre Abbey. Luckily we arrived at opening time so had plenty of time to get round. Highlights for us were the Agatha Christie exhibition, the history timelines and the story of the Abbey and the gardens, especially the greenhouses. Make sure you visit the cactus house it’s amazing.

Having spent so long at the abbey we had to stop for some lunch and the little cafe is perfect for this. Nice selection and great tea and coffee.


Buzznsmoo Sept. 2022


I ended up spending 3.5 hours here. There is so much to see! The gardens are wonderful, inc a glass palm house / plant sale. The abbey ruins add to the gardens atmosphere. The history of the abbey and house is truely facinating, and uniquely presented. Lots of rooms to explore, with just the right amount of reading / listening material. Staff were very friendly and approachable. I would highly recommend a visit.

Suz Sept. 2022

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