Torre Abbey Restoration Phase 2
Torre Abbey reopened to the public in July 2013 after an extensive restoration project managed by Torbay Development Agency with £5m Heritage Lottery / Torbay Council Fund.
The reopening of the 800 year-old Abbey overlooking Torquay seafront, owned by Torbay Council has been well received by the public as it regains its place as one of Torbay’s top attractions as a popular museum and art gallery, with impressive art collections including pieces by William Blake and Edward Burne-Jones.
Torre Abbey is one of the best examples of medieval monasteries in Devon and Cornwall. The site is home to the famous 'Spanish Barn' - a medieval tithe barn originally built to store taxes paid to the Abbey in the form of grain and hay.
The second phase of the Torre Abbey's restoration programme, to extensively conserve the medieval ruins, cloister wall and other key parts of the building, was essential to prevent further deterioration of the historic fabric. The work included repairing and stabilising the roof structures, repairing the masonry and restoring lime stucco.
The project included the creation of new learning spaces, including a new educational activity zone built in the south-east wing, transforming opportunities for students of all ages to get involved and explore the history of the site.
The top floor of the abbey is now a dramatic and dynamic gallery based around the 800 years of history of the site. State of the art displays and viewing stations overlooking the stunning marine vista of Tor Bay show how the building evolved throughout the history of the local area.
Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "We at HLF are pleased to be able to support the next phase of restoration works. Torre Abbey is one of the regions heritage treasures, and this restoration project is essential in preserving this wonderful site for future generations. Through the creation of new interpretation and education facilities, more people will have the chance to learn about and explore the history of the site and the local area."
Steve Parrock, Torbay Development Agency chief executive, said: "We are delighted to have secured the £2.8million grant, which will enable us to safeguard Torre Abbey's future by restoring its architectural features and creating a state-of-the-art interpretation space overlooking one of Europe's finest marine vistas. Albeit challenging, we thoroughly enjoyed completing the popular first phase on time and budget, and we are now thrilled to be able to complete the project. With HLF's support Torre Abbey can continue to enjoy its rightful place as one of Torbay's greatest assets, enhancing the quality of the visitor destination, whilst providing great facilities for local people throughout the year."
Mayor, Gordon Oliver, said: “This next stage will bring this beautiful building to life with state of the art technology depicting local history through the ages. Since its foundation in 1196, Torre Abbey has witnessed, survived and even played a role in some epic moments of history. It is one of the best buildings in the country to tell the story of 800 years of Catholicism between 1196 and 1930.The restoration will tell these stories but also other important local stories and milestones in history.”
David Snell, Operations Director, Kier Western, said: “Kier is delighted to return to Torre Abbey Historic House to carry out the second phase of renovation works. Having been the contractor for phase 1, we know the sort of challenges a grade 1 listed building and ancient monument presents. Our team has a great deal of experience in using the traditional materials and skills, such as lime rendering, lime plastering and stonework repairs, needed to meet English Heritage requirements.”
Client: Torbay Council