Walking in the footsteps of the Tudors

Torbay Weekly

We resume the official Totnes Town Trail at one of the finest restored Tudor town houses in the country - the Elizabethan House Museum.

Built in around 1575 for cloth merchant Walter Kellond, it has 12 galleries, a courtyard and a herb garden and has many original features.

The East Gate Arch was originally the entrance to the medieval town and has been carefully reconstructed after being virtually destroyed by a devastating fire in 1990.

Climb the steps on the right to Ramparts Walk and follow the old town wall behind the 15th century sandstone Parish Church of St Mary to the Guildhall, built in 1553 on the ruins of a 1088 medieval priory and for centuries the heart of the town, serving as court, prison and meeting place.

Continue up the High Street and take time to stop for a coffee at the delightful Totnes Cinema, originally a Temperance Hall which opened as a cinema in 1946. You'll find it at the start of the Butterwalk, built in Tudor times to protect dairy stalls from the weather.

Here you will find the Totnes Fashion and Textiles Museum in the 16th century Bogan House, the most intact Tudor Merchant’s House in the town.

Turn right into Castle Street to explore the country’s finest example of a motte and bailey castle built two years after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by Judael, the 11th century Norman overlord of Totnes.

Now under the stewardship of English Heritage, it is open to the public at weekends during the winter months and the magnificent 360 degree views from the ramparts are worth the admission fee alone.

Return to High Street and turn right into the Narrows with its colourful collection of individual shops and eateries including the innovative Zero Waste Shop, which stocks only ethical goods and is free from packaging. It is run by Nicola and Richard Eckersley, a former professional footballer who played for Manchester United, Burnley and Plymouth Argyle, among others.

On the left is Rotherfold Square, once a cattle market and now home to some lively events and community seating, and turn left into Leechwell Street following narrow Leechwell Lane through Leechwell Gardens before ending the trail in the Civic Square. There's a pannier market here every Friday and Saturday and in summer months there is also an Elizabethan Craft Market and monthly Sunday food market.

For a more detailed version of the town trail search Visit Totnes.