A fascinating trail has been designed to help families coming to Devon’s famous Buckfast Abbey Church this summer to get more out of their visit.

The historic site has recently partially re-opened – but with reduced hours and strict measures in place to protect tourists, staff and the Benedictine monks who live there.

The highlight of any trip is usually walking around the stunning Abbey Church with its many art treasures. But with a one-way system in place and parts of the building currently closed because of Covid restrictions, the free trail aims to explain about the changes which have been made and give interesting things to look out for – some of which might be easily missed by the casual observer.

These include details on the recently installed Ruffatti double organ which was made in Italy to mark the Abbey’s Millennium in 2018. The magnificent organ, the first instrument of its kind in the UK, can replicate the sound of bagpipes and even sleigh bells. Another gem is that the largest bell in the tower of the Abbey Church, the 7578-ton Hosanna, has the combined weight of a lion, a rhinoceros, an elephant, and a bear.

Education Manager, Alison Gagg, says: “Despite parts of the Abbey Church being closed off because of the health crisis, there are still many wonderful and enriching things to see. For example, there’s the Lantern Tower Ceiling depicting Jesus and the Saints in Heaven and the modern Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where each piece of stained glass was hit with a hammer so that it would reflect the light on even the dullest of days. The trail is very much of its time in that it also explains why parts are closed, as well as how lockdown works for the monks and includes a photo of the Abbey Church being really full so that people can see how it normally looks.

In this way, it is probably going to become a unique historical document of this period in the Abbey’s colourful and continually evolving story.”

Buckfast Abbey special trail

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