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Castle Tor

One building I didn’t show you yesterday is this ‘castle’.  I say “castle” but it is far from being something built to prevent marauding Torquinians (those who live in Torquay) from storming the ramparts or whatever those trying to take a castle are wont to do.

Lincombe Drive has many imposing Victorian villas.  They were built during a time when Torquay began to become a resort for the wealthy (and when the fleet of the Royal Navy used Tor Bay as a safe anchorage during the Napoleonic Wars.)

Torquay thus became the fashionable place to be for naval officers and their famililes during the first half of the 19th century and this promoted the building of many large villas (as well as exclusive hotels).  Indeed, the holiday trade was given an extra boost when the railway arrived in 1848.

The whole area known as the Lincombes was owned by the Palk family in the 1800s, a well-to-do Torquay family, and according to my researches “it was the manager of the Palk Estate, William Kitson, who effectively shaped this part of the town.”

The castle, an unexpected building among the Victorian villas, was originally a folly designed as an entrance gateway to the garden of an early 20th century house, Castle Tor (and which looks nothing like a castle.)

On my photo above, you can just see Castle Tor.  It was was originally designed by Fred Harrild in the 1930s, a pupil of the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens [later Sir Edwin Lutyens].  In later years, this sham ‘castle’ was developed into a property in its own right.

Taken July 2012

Taken yesterday, 9th February 2019

I wish I had some digital photos of Castle Tor to show you.  About 15 to 20 years ago, a dear friend (now sadly deceased) used house sit for people, especially those who had dogs that required walking, and through this work she met the then owners of Castle Tor and on a number of occasions house sat for them in their absence.   On one such occasion she invited me for a cup of tea and she showed me over the Lutyens’-style gardens, which sloped in terraces down to Lincombe Drive.

Of course, Lutyens had a hand in the building of yet another property in Torquay.

He designed Drum Inn in Cockington Village which replaced an old ale-house on the site, and it was opened in 1936.  It is a lovely place for a glass of cold beer in the summer, after a walk through the gardens and Cockington Country Park, an area of farmland within the Borough of Torbay.

Not designed by Lutyens but by one of his associates, Oswald Milne, Coleton Fishacre isn’t far from Torbay and again the style very reminiscent of that of Lutyens …

This lovely country house built in the 1920s is very much Arts & Craft without and Art Deco within.  It was built for Lady Dorothy and Rupert D’Oyly Carte (Rupert’s father being Richard D’Oyly Carte, the impresario behind the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.)

I am writing this on Sunday afternoon after a busy morning in the kitchen, making casseroles (one chicken, one venison) and also making individual apple crumbles.  We had an easy lunch, just bread, crackers and cheese …

How is it that food always seems to creep into my posts?  Here are small pork pies that we shared, crusty bread, olives, chutneys, Normandy butter, crackers, and four types of cheese: St Agur, Cheddar, Gruyere and Laughing Cow cream cheese.  I only put out small portions of Cheddar and St Agur as I wanted to finish these pieces before opening new packs.

Now for a cup of tea with the Sunday paper.

Until next time.


About Margaret

Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Another fascinating post, Margaret. I loved the crescent of villas you showed in a recent post with their wrought iron balconies. In our local farm shop today I was sorely tempted by a haunch of venison, but we made do with a pack of venison for casseroling and a leg of lamb for this evening. In fact my husband has just taken himself into the kitchen to prepare the lamb for roasting with lots of fresh rosemary and garlic. We bought a 25kg sack of Sidlesham potatoes from the farm yesterday and will roast some alongside the lamb with shallots. To accompany we will have leek cooked in butter and steamed Cavolo Nero from the garden. Suitably stuffed we will watch the Baftas (recording Endeavour for another day so we can fast forward through the advertisement breaks). I also wished to tell you that Last Word on Friday had an obituary of Rosamunde Pilcher who has died aged 94. I hadn’t realised she had been a prolific Mills & Boon author before the success of The Shell Seekers. I am sure you have heard her talk about writing this novel, as she said very sweetly she felt there was a gap in the market for an escapist novel for educated women who did not wish to read boring sex and shopping manuals. At this time in the mid to late 80s I was discovering Elizabeth Bowen and Rosamond Lehmann via the Virago imprint, but one day I will escape with The Shell Seekers. And did you see the very enjoyable programme about the River Dart last night? I used to love swimming in the icy water of the young Dart high up on Dartmoor, Always feel I write too much in my comments (it’s very difficult to edit oneself when typing into a tiny box), but that is the effect your posts have on me! Hope you are having a relaxing Sunday evening.

    • Margaret

      Your food sounds delicious and today I’ve cooked a chicken casserole and also a venison casserole. I find venison rather a strange taste although I like it, a cross between beef and liver. I’ve been watching the people on the red carpet for the BAFTAs on the News and actually, although I hate to say it, I’ve got totally fed up with it … the same old quesitons, “How do you feel …” “What’s it like …” and so forth, and it must be so cold for the women in those off the shoulder dresses. I’m sure had I been an actor and was dressing for something like this, I’d have worn a dress in the style of an Edwarding hunting outfit, with a tightly fitting jacket and a fur trimmed collar, so that I could remove the jacket once inside the Albert Hall to reveal a stunning gown (of course it would be stunning!)
      Rosamunde Pilcher wrote nice romances but I’d not realized they were for Mills & Boon. As I mentioned, I interviewed her in the Duke of Cornwall Hotel on the publication of Winter Solstice, her last novel, before a literary dinner there. I had jsut 1/2 hr with her before her ‘minder’ from her publisher called a halt to the inteview. But from it I learned things that I’d not read about before and she gave me a wonderful line about nailing her ‘characters’ in her novels which became my title for the piece: like butterflies on cork. For this is how she described pinning her characters down, knowing what they were like. My introduction to her was in 1957 when I was 13 and read a book of hers which I still ahve and which she kindly signed for me, although she never allowed it to be re-issued. It’s very dated now but I will love it – it’s about a 17 year old girl and her first crush on a chap who turns out to be her mother’s former lover (or it’s implied that’s what he was if not directly stated.) It has never appeared in any lists of books and even on http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk it’s not listed there.
      I missed the prog on the River Dart, so might go and watch this now on catch up before Endeavour at 8 pm. We will give the BATFAs a miss. I expect Olivia Coleman will get best actress but even though she is American and I should root for a Brit, I think Glenn Close’s performance in The Wife was better than Ms Coleman’s in The Favourite.
      Never worry about “writing too much”. It’s lovely that you read my posts so closely and that they trigger ideas of your own, and I’m sure all the readers of my blog also enjoy reading each others’ comments. So never think you write too much; you must write just as much or as little as you feel like writing.
      If you’ve not read Rosamunde Pilcher’s four ‘big’ novels, then I am sure you would enjoy them, but the last one was written in 2000 so of course, they are no longer ‘modern’ in the sense that they are 20th and rather 21st century novels.

  2. More wonderful photos and writing making us feel a though we’ve been there with you! I particularly enjoyed seeing the Lutyens buildings, as for twenty five years we lived opposite one of his big houses up North – Heathcote. I love his work and the splendid Jekyll gardens which often accompanied them. I didn’t know about buildings you mention so I am off to dig out my huge book about his work to see if they are included. I also enjoyed reading his biography some years ago – not altogether a happy life, in spite of his success.

    On another note, your snack lunch looks most appetising. I often find I eat rather more than I would normally do when there is a choice of delicious things – a bit more bread to finish up the butter, just ‘tidy up’ that little piece of cheese there etc., etc.! Most enjoyable though.

    • Margaret

      Oh, how wonderful to have lived so close to a Lutyens house. Like you, I love his work and especially his collaborative works with Gertrude Jekyll (we went to Hestercombe in Somerset some years ago where there is a wonderful Lutyens/Jekyll garden). Oh, do look up Coleton Fishacre, which is between Brixham and Kingswear in South Devon. It isn’t a Lutyens house but there are so many areas which are pure Lutyens, especially the semi-circular ponds in the garden, and a rill garden.
      We both enjoy a snack sort of meal, and fortunately husband loves salads (unlike a lot of men who dismiss it as rabbit food.) He’s never happier than when I make various salads and have them even with something as simple as hard boiled eggs, or a slice of ham. This evening we had a serving of chicken casserole which was very tasty as I’d added some paprika and port to the mixture and also instead of chicken stock, I added beef stock. It goes surprisingly well with a chicken casserole.
      Re Lutyens, do look up Castle Drogo, the last ‘castle’ to have been built in Britain for wealthy Julius Drewe, which is situated high above the Teign Valley here in Devon.

  3. Thank you for the suggestions re Lutyens, Margaret. I’d particularly like to see Castle Drogo, and we did try to see Coleton Fishacre when we were staying at Berry Head a few years ago, but chose a wrong day and it was closed. It sounds delightful!

    • Margaret

      Castle Drogo is wonderful and in recent years a lot of money has been spent on trying to prevent the ingress of water through the flat roof and the granite walls. The problems started as it was being built, but the client wanted it to be as like a real castle as possible even though a flat roof and granite aren’t the best of ideas in our wet climate. It is a truly magnificent building, though, and I’m sure you would love it. What a shame that Coleton Fishacre was closed on the day you visited. We love it there even though it’s a relatively small house because it was a summer holiday home for the D’Oyley Cartes, not their main residence. Perhaps you will visit Devon again before too long and see it on your next visit.

  4. I love reading about your beautiful part of the world and the history of the buildings and people who lived there. We have re-runs of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on our television and we watched the shows featuring your area. It was nice to recognise some of the places you mention in your blog.
    P>S> I also enjoy your cooking segments.

    • Margaret

      Michael Poretillo’s railway journeys are great programmes, aren’t they, Pieta? We really enjoy them. We like how he unearths unusual facts and interesting people (no doubt he has good researches for the programme.) I find him more interesting now he’s a television journalist (if that’s the best way of describing his programmes) than when he was a politician. The same can be said for Michael Palin, who was a member of the Monty Python comedy team and then, as with Portillo, turned to travel programmes and with great success. I’m glad you have seen Portillo’s programmes on our part of the world. Glad also you like hearing about my cooking or, as was the case today, a bread and cheese meal.

  5. The castellated walls make a attractive boundary to the greenery.
    I’ve been to the Drum Inn but I’d no dea that Lutyens designed it. I loved Coleton Fishacre though it’s some years since I went there. When in the Lake Disctrict we visited another Arts and Crafts house but it wasn’t a patch on it. I’m sure you’d have been glamour personified at the BAFTAs!

    • Margaret

      Aw, get away! Me glam at the BAFTAs, how funny is that! When I was 20 perhaps, and looking a bit like Liza Minelli in Cabaret with dark short hair and heavily made-up eyes but not since then, ha ha! Yes, the Drum is a Lutyens building, and Coleton Fishacre is a little gem of a building (and the garden is heavenly.)

  6. Cabaret. …A long time favourite film, watched many, many times. I adore it.

  7. Those buildings and gardens are just beautiful. It would have been wonderful to visit that beautiful home when your friend was dog sitting. A bit like being at your teen friend’s home when their parents are out !

    I’m not sure if it’s a bug but on a few occasions you haven’t replied to my comments. I usually read your replies to my comments which is how I noticed. They weren’t consecutive posts. Maybe you just missed them ?

    • Margaret

      I reply as soon as comments come in Lara, and I do my best to make sure that everyone kind enough to leave a comment gets a response. I will check that your comments haven’t been missed … I don’t think they have been, but you never know with computers, do you? I apologise if I have missed your comments, as they are so lovely to read.

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