After spending £11m on a huge refurbishment programme, Torre Abbey in Torquay has relaunched with fantastic new exhibitions and a series of events including the monthly Torre Abbey Family Sundays.
We were lucky enough to be invited to the first Family Sunday, featuring Stiltskin from Plymouth giving a story walk around the beautiful gardens followed by a session building bug houses to take home with us.
After checking in, we met Jacqueline who gave us our basket before heading out into the beautiful garden to collect leaves and treasures for our craft project.
Jacqueline led us around the garden, weaving stories as we went, explaining and interacting with the children. Jacqueline was careful to ensure that all children had their turn to talk, which can be a little tricky when our talkative 5 year old is around.
The gardens really are perfect for exploring with children. There are walls and ruins to explore, informal and formal gardens to find, windows to peer through and a huge glass house.
We spent ages in the glass house admiring the exotic plants and free range stick insects. A great favourite was the section of animal eating plants – our favourite book brought to life.
Through out the gardens, there were lots of little touches to engage and entertain children and a whole cabinet full of explorer kits and an undercover mud kitchen area.
After filling our collecting buckets, we made our way to the learning and discovery area, where the children made bug hotels out of the leaves, sticks and materials gathered from the garden.
When the bug hotels were perfect, we returned to the under croft for a magical story from Jacqueline to round off our hour and a half session.
Exploring Torre Abbey
The tickets include free entry to the Abbey itself and we made full use of this. I’ve not been to Torre Abbey before and boy have we missed out!
There is room after room of amazing, interactive exhibitions and displays. Great care has been taken to engage with children yet every display is interesting to the adults too.
Great pride has been taken to showcase the historic buildings themselves, the families who have lived in them and the huge range of events that have taken place within the walls and to set it all in the context of local and national history.
Within the Abbey, our favourite activities were the fancy dress room (including knitted chain mail and costumes to fit adults as well as children), brass rubbing, the stained glass window jigsaw, the artwork storage room and the artist room.
Torre Abbey is far more that just another historical building opened to the public. The quality and breadth of the exhibitions far exceeds many city museums and the care and attention to detail is second to none. Innovative details, such as the room of little doors, each hiding a snippet of the building’s history, are outstanding. The sundial showing the daily routine of the monks is a memorable way of bringing to life what would otherwise have been a dull list of duties.
The Abbey is also home to a number of works of art, which are beautifully displayed along side the family’s own sketch books and homespun crafts.
There is also a small shop selling local products and Simon Drew cards. tea towels etc and plants as well as a comfortable cafe.
All in all, we spent over 3 hours exploring the Abbey, in addition to the 90 minute workshop – well worth the trip from Exeter.
Getting there – ample parking is available at the neighbouring Riviera Centre or 40-50 minutes on the train to Torre which is a few minutes walk from the Abbey.
Torre Abbey Family Sundays
The monthly Family Sundays include FREE activities and incredible bookable workshops. May’s bookable activity is The Enchanted Abbey, a magical, dancing exploration of the Abbey and Gardens. Join Clare as she takes our little visitors and their families on a very different tour, making potions and your very own pair of fairy or pixie wings along the way.
Free activities include arty fun and garden trails.
Sessions from from 10.30am – 12pm, 1pm – 2.30pm and 3pm – 4.30pm. Each session is limited to 15 children (plus their adults). £5 per person, which includes FREE admission to the Abbey. Under 2s free.
We had an amazing time at the Torre Abbey Family Sunday and will certainly be revisiting very soon.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to Torre Abbey, either before or after the refurbishment.
Disclaimer – Torbay Council kindly gave me a child ticket to the Family Sunday, nevertheless all views expressed are honest and my own.