Remembering when Duke unveiled plate to mark renovation of abbey and crypt
The stories behind Torbay’s blue plaques by Ian Handford, Chairman of the Torbay Civic Society. This week the commemorative plaque of Torre Abbey:
This time a formal acknowledgment of the new phase of work at Torre Abbey with the installation of a stainless steel plate in place of a blue plaque, courtesy of the Torbay Civic Society.
It was officially unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester on 13 June 2014 and received by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Sir Eric Dancer, who then assisted in the official unveiling.
The Duke had a tour of the new showrooms and building before having to leave as he had fitted his visit into a very busy schedule which eventually saw him have no fewer than four engagements in Devon that day.
Visiting Torre Abbey’s additional restoration and exhibition spaces, the building has been supported by numerous grants from donors in recent years, most recently a Lottery Heritage Funding grant to which was added additional support from Torbay Council, resulting in an investment of £5 Millions of pounds was raised for this final phase.
The Abbey and Crypt now include a number of dedicated internal exhibitions throughout the building, as well as further improvements to the gardens at the rear of the site.
Welcoming the improvements, Friends of Torre Abbey Chairwoman Gillian Westell said: “We are delighted and proud of everything we have achieved here. This is a great opportunity for us and the new displays are fantastic.”
To commemorate a royal visitor, the Torbay Civic Society provided a steel plaque for the Duke of Gloucester’s unveiling – which was not a blue plaque.
For the first time in two decades as Society Chairman, I was unable to attend this ceremony as my wife and I were on a half-world cruise. Fortunately, Steve Parrock, Executive Director of Torbay Council, was able to preside over the ceremony in my absence and commented: “It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the official opening with a royal visit from the Duke of Gloucester. We were able to showcase all the hard work that went into ensuring Torre Abbey is now a high-end local attraction for residents and visitors alike.”
Following his visit to the Abbey, the Duke traveled to the new South West Energy Center building in Long Road, Paignton, where he toured the site again before the official opening and was delighted to sign the SWEC guest book.
In his presentation, he mentioned that the new skills taught at the center should both protect the environment and address the new challenges of tomorrow’s world. Stephen Criddle, Rector of South Devon College, replied: “We are delighted that the Duke of Gloucester was able to come and open SWEC as his presence really seals the hard work of the staff.”
SWEC is a state-of-the-art training center for students wishing to work in the green and renewable sectors, with at least 100 local companies linked with courses.
After his visit, the Duke was again on his way to Exeter Business Park, which was also celebrating a tenth anniversary, before finally visiting the Walronds Center in Cullompton, which we know has recently been restored.
Our most historic monument, Torre Abbey, dating from 1196 and set in 40 acres of gardens and parkland, today houses more than 600 18th-century works of art.
The dedicated history gallery explores more than 800 years of local history and includes many innovative, descriptive, interactive exhibits and even talking portraits and videos that appeal particularly to young people, making this museum unique.
Torre Abbey is a family-friendly museum that offers many learning opportunities including quizzes, mysteries and disguise concepts. It is open all year round.