South Devon is home to many historic buildings that showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage. These truly iconic buildings, many of which date back centuries, are a testament to the area’s architectural and cultural history. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique way to explore the area, these buildings are a must-see for anyone visiting the South Devon area.
This historic building is located within the Killerton Estate in Devon. It was originally built as a post office in the 19th century but has since been converted into a museum and exhibition space. The building features traditional architecture and is a popular spot for visitors to learn about the history of the area.
Despite being a small building, it is stuffed to the rafters with items that a traditional village post office would have sold. Older people will get misty-eyed at the nostalgic items on display, such as memorabilia celebrating the Coronation of the Queen and 1950s magazines.
A unique touch is the old rotary phone which now plays recorded messages from people who once lived in the village and workers from the Killerton estate if you dial different numbers.
This historic building is located in the heart of Dartmoor National Park. Dating to approximately 1537, the building is a former church that has been converted into a museum and exhibition space. Not only was the house used as a centre of worship but also doubled as a community centre, almshouse, school, workhouse, and then as a village hall. The building features traditional architecture, even ancient forge bellows on the ground floor, and is a popular spot for visitors to learn about the history of the area.
NOTE: Only National Trust members can gain access to the interior of the building with keys provided by a local attendant.
This historic building is located within the Killerton Estate. The mill was originally built in the 18th century to process wheat and oats and operated continuously until 1941. After it ceased production, the mill fell into disrepair and was eventually acquired by the National Trust, which restored it and opened it to the public as a museum and exhibition space.
Today, visitors to Clyston Mill can learn about the history of the mill and the traditional techniques used to grind grain into flour. The mill features a working waterwheel, which is powered by a nearby stream, and a series of grinding stones and other machinery used in the milling process.
Cricklepit Mill was originally built in the 12th century and was used for various purposes throughout its history, including as a flour mill, a paper mill, and a fulling mill for processing wool.
The mill was acquired by the Devon Wildlife Trust in the 1990s and was extensively restored, to preserve its historical and cultural significance. Today, Cricklepit Mill is open to the public as a museum and exhibition space, where visitors gain a fascinating insight into the history of the mill and the role it played in the local economy.
The mill features a fully working waterwheel, which is powered by the nearby stream, as well as a range of machinery and equipment used in the milling process. Some displays and exhibits provide insights into the daily lives of the people who worked at the mill and the history of the area.
In addition to the mill itself, visitors can explore the surrounding grounds, which include a wildlife garden and a beautiful, calming nature reserve. The mill is also used as a community space, hosting a range of events and activities throughout the year, including workshops, exhibitions, and festivals.
Finch Foundry is a historic industrial heritage site located in the town of Sticklepath, near Okehampton. This particular site dates back to the 18th century and was originally used as a working foundry, producing agricultural tools and household items such as shovels, spades, and forks.
Like many other historical buildings, Finch Foundry fell into disrepair. The foundry was acquired by the National Trust in 1991 and was extensively restored and opened to the public as a museum and visitor attraction. Today, visitors can explore the foundry and learn about the history of the site, as well as the traditional techniques used in metalworking.
Visitors can see a range of machinery and equipment used in the foundry, including a working waterwheel, hammers, anvils, and furnaces. Plus there are demonstrations of the forging and finishing processes, giving visitors a unique insight into the skills and techniques used and passed down from generation to generation.
In addition to the foundry itself, visitors can explore the surrounding grounds, which include a garden, orchard, and nature trail. There is also a gift shop and a tea room, serving locally sourced food and drink.
Gallants Bower Fort is a historic military fortification in Dartmouth. The fort was built in the early 17th century as part of a series of defences to protect the town and harbour from potential attacks by foreign powers.
Gallants Bower was constructed on a high hill with panoramic views overlooking the town and was equipped with a range of artillery pieces, including cannons and mortars. Its strategic location and firepower made it an important part of the town’s defences, and the fort played a role in some conflicts and battles over the centuries, including the English Civil War.
Today, Gallants Bower Fort is, unfortunately, nothing more than a grass mound but visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Dartmouth and the surrounding countryside. The site is particularly popular with history enthusiasts and military history buffs, as well as those interested in the local history and heritage of the area.
Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village is a historic site located on Dartmoor. Named after Hound Tor, a distinctive granite outcrop that dominates the surrounding landscape, the village itself dates back to the 13th century and is believed to have been abandoned in the 15th century, possibly due to economic factors such as changes in agriculture or the due to the devastating impact on the population by the Black Death.
Today, Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village is open to the public as a heritage site and tourist attraction, where visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of the village. Several information panels and displays provide insights into the daily lives of the villagers who once inhabited the site, as well as offering some broader social and economic context of the period.
Visitors to Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village can also enjoy the spectacular natural scenery of Dartmoor, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the nearby Hound Tor. The site is particularly popular with history enthusiasts, walkers, and hikers, as well as those interested in the archaeology and heritage of the area.
Kirkham House was built in the 19th century and has since been converted into a museum and exhibition space. The building features traditional architecture and is a popular spot for visitors to learn about the history of the area.
The house is notable for its impressive architecture, which includes a fine stone doorway, an ornate plaster ceiling, and a series of intricately carved oak screens. The interior of the house has been well-preserved over the centuries and provides a fascinating insight into the domestic life of the Tudor period.
Today, Kirkham House is open to the public as a museum and visitor attraction, where visitors can explore the interior of the house and learn about its history and architecture. The site includes a range of exhibits and displays that provide insights into the lives of the people who once lived in the house, as well as the broader social and cultural context of the Tudor period.
Kirkham House is truly a unique and fascinating example of Tudor architecture and provides valuable insight into the social and cultural history of South Devon. The site is particularly popular with history enthusiasts and architecture lovers.
Built in the late 17th century and a rare example of early Quaker architecture, the Loughwood Meeting House is one of the oldest surviving Quaker meeting houses in the country.
The meeting house is a simple, unadorned building made of local stone, with a thatched roof and a distinctive porch. Amazingly, the interior of the building has been largely preserved in its original state, with wooden benches and a raised gallery for the musicians who played during the service.
Today, Loughwood Meeting House is open to the public as a museum and visitor attraction, where visitors can learn about the history of the building and its role in the development of Quakerism in the region. The site includes a range of exhibits and displays that provide insights into the lives of the Quakers who once worshipped in the meeting house, as well as the broader social and cultural context of the period.
In addition to the meeting house itself, visitors can also explore the surrounding grounds, which include a burial ground and a range of period features and plantings. There is also a small shop selling locally made crafts and souvenirs.
The Royal Citadel was built in the mid-17th century in response to the perceived threat of a Dutch invasion during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. It was designed to be an imposing and impregnable fortification, with a series of ramparts, bastions, and walls, and served as a key military stronghold in the region for centuries.
Today, the Royal Citadel is still an active military installation, although parts of the site are open to the public for guided tours. Visitors can explore the ramparts and bastions, as well as the interior of the fortification, which includes a range of exhibits and displays related to the history of the Citadel and its role in the defense of Plymouth.
One of the highlights of a visit to the Royal Citadel is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place every day at noon, weather permitting. This colorful and traditional event features the guard parading through the streets of Plymouth, accompanied by a military band, before taking up their position at the Citadel.
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