Torre Abbey in Torquay was our destination in January last year but we were very much looking forward to returning. Two buses and an interesting enough journey in the daytime. Then a short walk through a delightful park to get there….The thirteenth century gatehouse is a fitting introduction to this originally medieval abbey complex….. and inside there is a fascinating exhibit about the stone used in the building and where it came from….a lot of it from the nearby headland.Although the abbey was developed into a residence after the Dissolution, the first thing you see is the medieval undercroft which is very atmospheric.Once inside we visited the chapel which we did not see last time. The chapel exhibits an unusual ‘barrel vault’ ceiling dating from the 15th century. Prior to being converted into a chapel by the Cary family it used to be the Guest Hall. We also saw inside the gatehouse with an original knocker on the medieval door, and we could clearly see how the abbey buildings had to have a defensive purpose – in fact a licence to crenellate (erect fortified defences) was granted by Edward III in 1348. What really astounded us was the thickness of the walls, easily six feet, and amongst the deepest I have ever seen.The Thrupp Collection draws art lovers from all over the country, as it’s the most extensive collection from the studio of a Victorian sculptor. It includes statues, busts and bronzes as well as plaster reliefs. Magnificent………and I liked the furniture panels by him which reflect a George Herbert poem (I studied Herbert as one of the Metaphysical Poets at school).Proceeding, we were diverted very briefly by an exhibition called Torbay Rocks which was memorabilia, mainly posters, from the 60’s and 70’s music scene. It didn’t really have much interest for me I’m afraid.I mentioned last visit the superb way in which the museum puts together how art is made……with artists’ sketchbooks…… and before and after like this plaster cast with its bronze finished article. The standard of the museum’s displays is exceptionally high and never patronising.I do like this watercolour of Torquay with its castle on the hill. This was knocked down in the 60’s. Architects and town planners in the 60’s and 70’s have a lot to answer for! This painting also shows the hilly terrain on which Torquay spreads itself out. In fact it is built on 7 hills – just like Rome!The abbey is a real maze over several floors and without a plan you never know where you will find yourself next, but throughout there are paintings everywhere. Here rather a nice marine oil…….I knew nothing of Torquay Pottery but it was widely made in its day……’‘Torquay Pottery’ has become the generic term covering the numerous potteries that made Art Pottery and later souvenir/household pottery, from around 1860 until the late 20th century, mainly using local sources of red Devon clay. These potteries were based within about 5 miles of Torquay, in Devon, but also include a few other West Country potteries which copied the Torquay style. They were usually established by craftsmen who had learnt or practised their skills in Torquay.’ Some made for the tourist market…….and some for the more genteel collectors….This time there was a display by local photographers in one room…the tobacconists with skeleton shopkeeper was amusing,and this disused quarry at Llanberis was spectacular…being reclaimed by Nature already…..There is plenty to maintain your interest everywhere including some of the rooms used by the Cary family which owned and occupied the house from 1662 to 1930. Burne-Jones was one of the most influential and successful artists of his time and supported the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He is credited with single-handedly reviving the medieval tradition of stained glass in the United Kingdom. Torre has some good examples but only one original.As elsewhere, not all Torre Abbey’s collections can be displayed in its galleries. The Behind the Scenes Gallery on the first floor was interesting as it houses a number of paintings on a racking system. This allows visitors to see how paintings are stored and gives access to some great paintings.After having our fill of culture we wandered out into the extensive ruined sections of the original abbey…… through the gardens…..and to the palm house which is always good when it’s raining….and just as we were exiting the grounds I noticed the door to the ‘Spanish Barn’ was ajar. I had asked about this building and was told it was only open when exhibitions were in there……luckily someone was preparing for one and didn’t mind us having a quick look.Rather than wait for our bus in the cold we went into the Grand Hotel for a pint for me, and tea for F. Good hotels – this is 4 star – are always a good bet for the odd drink as you have luxury surroundings for the price of the drink. The brasserie menu looked good too. We could spot the bus passing on its way into Torquay and knew then when we would have to leave the hotel to catch it on its way back. A nice end to a very good day.