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Tavistock Abbey

tavistock abbey

Step Back in Time at Tavistock Abbey

A trip to Tavistock Abbey transports families back to the Middle Ages while providing a fun and educational day out. Set amidst the moors of Devon, this historic monastery ruin has entertainments to delight both kids and adults. Learn about life in medieval England through interactive exhibits and activities. Marvel at ancient architecture nestled in a tranquil riverside garden. With so much to see and do, every visit uncovers new wonders.

tavistock abbey

Getting There

Tavistock Abbey is on the southern edge of the town of Tavistock in Devon, about 45 minutes from Plymouth by car. Free parking is available at the Abbey Visitor Centre. Tavistock train station is a 10 minute walk away. Buses from Plymouth or surrounding towns drop off in the centre of Tavistock, from where it’s a pleasant 15 minute riverside stroll to the Abbey.

Opening Times and Prices

The Abbey and grounds are open daily from 10am to 6pm during summer and 10am to 4pm in winter.

It is free to enter the Abbey.

Medieval Ruins

Despite being partially destroyed after the dissolution of the monasteries, many striking medieval buildings still stand at Tavistock Abbey for families to admire. Towering stone walls give a glimpse into scale and grandeur. Identify architectural details like pointed archways in the roofless Chapel of Our Lady. Hunt for Green Men and other carvings amongst the ornate Chapter House ruins.

Interesting information plaques explain key parts of the Abbey’s original layout. Use an annotated map to locate where monks slept, prayed, ate, and worked. Try to imagine daily life inside these spaces over 700 years ago.

You must not miss the peaceful walled herb garden for a scenic spot to sit and contemplate the monks who once tended it.

tavistock abbey

History

Tavistock Abbey is a ruined Benedictine abbey. Founded in 961 AD by Ordulf, Earl of Devon, it was one of the oldest and wealthiest abbeys in the West Country by the late Middle Ages.

The abbey reached the peak of its prosperity in the 13th century but was dissolved in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII.

betsy grimbals tower

An Fun Day Out

Families can easily spend an hour or 2 immersed in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of medieval times. Kids will be entertained and engaged as they explore the ruins, learn hands-on skills, and unwind in the tranquil grounds. Plan a visit to make memories that will last long after leaving this ancient monument behind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Tavistock Abbey? – Yes, dogs are allowed, but should be kept on a lead.

How long do I need for a visit to the Abbey? They are ruins, so the time you need to see them is probably limited to about an hour.

Is Tavistock Abbey wheelchair accessible? – Yes, wheelchairs can get into the Abbey, but care will be needed as ther are some uneven paths.

Other Nearby Attractions

When in Tavistock, there are a number of other attractions to visit nearby, including:

  • Okehampton Castle – Ruins of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle with interactive exhibits bringing history to life. Great for kids.
  • Lydford Gorge – Dramatic gorge with waterfalls and lovely nature trails along the River Lyd. Owned and managed by the National Trust.
  • Morwellham Quay – Living museum that recreates a historic port and copper mine from the Victorian era. Ride the mine railway.
  • Roadford Lake – Large reservoir near Tavistock with walks, cycling, fishing, water sports and outdoor adventures available.
  • Tamar Valley Line – Scenic railway running along the Tamar Valley from Plymouth to Gunnislake. Offers idyllic valley views.
  • Cotehele House & Quay – Medieval house and historic quay on the River Tamar. Explore the vaulted halls and gardens.
  • Finch Foundry – Historic 19th century working water-powered forge open to visitors to see traditional iron work skills.
  • Launceston Castle – Impressive Norman motte-and-bailey castle ruins with a fascinating history. Wonderful views from the top.

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