All About Torquay

Now a popular holiday resort, Torquay’s origins can be traced back to the Stone Age. From pre-historic caves to famous novelists, discover the history of this beautiful coastal town…

In the beginning

The town’s inhabitants resided in the coastal caves, now known as Kents Cavern. The caves are one of Europe’s significant Stone Age sites, with rocks dating back 400 million years. Unsurprisingly, Kents Cavern is a key tourist attraction and visitors can take a guided tour to learn all about the 15-year-long Victorian excavation, led by local archaeologist William Pengelly, that unearthed the caves’ history. Tourists can continue their voyage of discovery, with a trip to Torquay Museum where more than 500 stone tools are on display – many of which were found in the excavation.

What’s in a name?

Torre was the town’s ancient name and means “weathered rock outcrop.” It took its name from the remains of the historic quarry, which you can still see on Tor Hill Road. Quay was added at a later date due to the town’s increased fishing activity.*

19th century developments

Torquay’s major phase of development occurred in the 1800s. The Palk family were notable residents and owned much of the land in Torquay during this era. It was under the Palks that a new harbour was built in the early 19th century which increased Torquay’s importance as a fishing town. It was in the second half of the century however, that Torquay came to be known as a popular leisure destination. As seaside holidays became fashionable among the upper classes, Torquay’s mild climate made it one of their preferred holiday spots.

The Osborne Hotel also has its roots in the 19th century developments. It was Sir Lawrence Palk, 4th Baronet, who commissioned the construction of Hesketh Crescent; the grade II listed Regency crescent building we call home. Completed in 1848, it’s a fine example of 19th century architecture and is said to be one of West England’s most elegant crescent buildings.

Notable buildings

Aside from Hesketh Crescent, there are many significant historic buildings in the town. Torre Abbey was founded in 1196 as a monastery. Dissolved in 1539 during Henry VIII’s Reformation, today it’s home to four floors of art exhibitions, heritage and interactive displays.

A mile from the seafront, you’ll find Cockington Court – a stunning manor house built in the 16th century. Now it’s more commonly known as a thriving crafts centre with over 20 studios. The house is open to the public along with its beautiful walled and Tudor rose gardens.

A little bit of mystery

Torquay’s most famous resident is probably crime novelist Agatha Christie. Born in the town in September 1890, her childhood home provided much inspiration for the setting of her popular crime mysteries. Fans of the author can discover more about how Torquay influenced her work with a walk along the Agatha Christie mile, which includes the Princess Gardens and Beacon Cove.

Experience the wonder of Torquay yourself with a stay at our seafront hotel: check availability.

*Source: Travel Wessex.

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What’s on this Easter in Torquay?

Think bright blue skies, beautiful beaches and flourishing countryside – Easter is the perfect time to visit the English Riviera. With the school holidays fast approaching, here’s what you can expect from a visit to Torquay this Easter…

Dinosaur Quest at Kents Cavern

Just a short drive from The Osborne Hotel, you can treat the kids to something a little different with this underground experience. There are daily tours of the caves plus exciting activities including the Dino Quest – see if you can find the dinosaurs hidden around the site. And your visit wouldn’t be complete without taking part in the Easter Egg Hunt!

Distance from the hotel: 5 minute drive.

Bygones Easter Egg Trail

Step back in time with a trip to Bygones. Three floors showcasing over 100 years of British history, from the Victorian Era to Wartime Britain. Get involved in this year’s Easter Egg Hunt, taking place 1-17 April.

Distance from the hotel: 10 minute drive.

Cockington Explorers

If you’ve got some adventurous little ones on your hands, feed their curiosity with a visit to Cockington Court. Grab one of the Court’s backpacks full of activities when you arrive to keep them entertained. There are packs suitable for under 5s and 6-9 year-olds, available 11am – 3pm.

Distance from the hotel: 15 minute drive.

Torquay Mystery Treasure Trail

Explore the story of Torquay whilst getting out and about in the spring sunshine. On this self-guided two mile trail, you can take your time – simply follow the directions to stay on the fixed walking route. The kids will be kept engaged with clues to solve en route. Pick up the trail from Vaughan Parade.

Distance from the hotel: 5 minute drive.

And something for the grown-ups…

When you’re ready to relax after your fun-filled activities, why not stop by our hotel and enjoy a traditional Devonshire cream tea for a true taste of Torbay?

5 Hidden Gems of Torquay

Torquay is famous for being a beautiful coastal town. If you’re planning on making a visit, here are our top five recommendations on the best sightseeing attractions in the area:

Meadfoot Beach

Just a stone’s throw away from the hotel are the stunning sights of Meadfoot Beach. The picturesque pebbly beachfront is perfect for families and makes the ideal spot for a stroll or a sunbath. Enjoy the rock pools, build a sandcastle or simply enjoy the undisturbed peace and quiet with an ice cream.

Kents Cavern

Visit the prehistoric Kents Cavern for a touch of history. See the spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations, walk along the outdoor trail or let the kids get hands-on in the archaeological dig area. Find it a mile away from Torquay harbour.

Cockington Court

Go for a day out at historic manor house Cockington Court. Set in a beautiful country park, the stunning property is home to a selection of gardens, tea rooms and craft studios that feature the work of glass blowers, blacksmiths and even a chocolatier. There are also food festivals throughout the summer, boasting delicious handmade products from local farmers.

Living Coasts Zoo and Aquarium

Torquay’s Living Coasts Zoo and Aquarium is situated on the sea front and is the perfect place to see otters, penguins, jellyfish, birds and other sea animals. Open every day from 10am, Coastal Zoo features an array of sights and sounds that will keep both kids and parents entertained.

Babbacombe Model Village

See the miniature world of Babbacombe Village! There’s so much to enjoy and the kids will adore getting to see everything from a mini castle and hot air balloon to a train and seaport.

Osborne Hotel offers the perfect place to stay on your visit to Torquay. Enjoy 4* accommodation and an unrivaled location, with spectacular views across the beautifully landscaped gardens stretching down to the picturesque Meadfoot Beach.

For more information, visit our website – www.osborne-torquay.co.uk