Torre Abbey was founded as a monastery in 1196 and is Torquay’s oldest building.
It was later adapted as a country house and in 1741-3 was remodelled by the Cary family.
Bought by the Council in 1930 for an art gallery visitors can see monastic remains, historic rooms, family chapel, mementoes of Agatha Christie, Victorian paintings including Holman Hunt & Burne-Jones & Torquay terracotta.
In 2005 Torre Abbey closed for an extensive £6.5 million restoration.
The restoration was enabled by a substantial grant of £4.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as contributions from Torbay Council, English Heritage, the Friends of Torre Abbey, the Wolfson Foundation, Museum, Libraries and Archives Commission, the Garfield Weston Foundation and Renaissance South West.
It is a large building with a floor area of nearly 600 square metres, divided into 122 rooms, on twenty levels with 256 individual steps it consists of two Grade I listed buildings, four Grade II listed buildings, an historic garden and is a scheduled ancient monument of national importance.
The fabric of the building had been in a poor and deteriorating condition since the 1840s and experts all agreed that unless a comprehensive programme of repairs and alterations could take place that the future of this historic building could be in jeopardy.
The first and most important phase of the Torre Abbey Project took almost three years and was completed in 2008 at a cost of £6.6million but Torbay council fear that phase two may be postponed as it will need a further £5million in 2009/10 to complete the whole project.
Phase one did not only protect the oldest parts of the building, it also improved visitor access and enabled visitors to see parts of the Abbey that had previously been inaccessible.
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