Torrington - the Cavalier Town
14:03 20 April 2010
Great Torrington is known as the Cavalier Town in recognition of its brave attempt to support the King in the Battle of Torrington in 1646 during the English Civil War.
Today, Great Torrington has become well established as an important heritage centre for the history of the 17th century. In this vibrant community, people in the town are proud of their heritage and can often be seen dressed in 17th century costume for re-enactments, festivals and celebrations or as volunteers at the popular Torrington 1646 visitor attraction. Conveniently in the town centre, this experience allows visitors to step into a re-creation of the 17th century town and meet a selection of the colourful characters who bring the history to life.
At the very heart of Tarka Country, Great Torrington is sited on a steep ridge with spectacular views over the Torridge river valley and encircled on three sides by common land given to the town in the 12th century. This tranquil landscape has remained practically unchanged since Henry Williamson found inspiration to write his classic novel Tarka the Otter in the 1920s.
Locals and visitors alike still enjoy the deep wooded valleys, riverside tracks and heathland paths on foot and by bicycle, playing golf or fishing. The Tarka Trail Cycle Path is especially popular for visitors feeling particularly energetic.
Just outside the town is the Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Rosemoor. A stunning 40 acres includes the fabulous rose gardens, woodland walks, herbaceous borders, a winter garden, three other model gardens, and an arboretum which houses a beautiful 18th century garden gazebo. Other areas are devoted to specialised gardens a bog garden, a cottage garden, a fruit and vegetable garden and much more. The beauty and diversity provides inspiration whatever the season. Most spectacular, however, are the 2,000 roses, where 200 varieties create a magnificent display throughout the summer.
Local public houses such as the award-winning Black Horse Inn (reputedly the oldest pub in North Devon), are sure to quench the thirst and fill the stomachs of any visitors looking for delicious home cooked food and local ales or cider.
The Plough Arts Centre boasts a 140-seat auditorium, gallery, dance studio, caf and bar which provides unique and memorable entertainment for all ages.
A traditional market town, Torrington has many prize-winning shops, master butchers and bakers, offering quality local produce. The town centre also boasts cafs, traditional pubs, banks and other facilities all within two minutes walk from the main car park!
The refurbished Victorian Pannier Market houses a variety of shops and craft workshops too, selling local produce, gifts and collectables at sensible prices, and the traditional pottery at Monkleigh is only a few minutes away.
The Town Hall, rebuilt in 1860, still has the original yard known as the Shambles. Once the meat market and town lock-up, it is now decorated with scenes from the original market of 1842. The Town Hall also houses the free museum, run by local volunteers. Here visitors can learn about some of the famous residents, such as Keble Martin and Thomas Fowler, and find a further insight into the areas history.
This, combined with the many community events throughout the year, ensures there is always something special to look out for in Great Torrington.