Great Torrington is a small market town set in the midst of rolling unspoilt green countryside in the very heart of Tarka Country. Set on an inland cliff top, with steep drops down to the River Torridge below, it offers spectacular views.
It had strategic significance in the English Civil War. In the Battle of Torrington (1646), the Parliamentarians, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax, swept into the town and defeated Lord Hopton’s forces.
This marked the end of Royalist resistance in the West Country. Today the town is an important heritage centre and its people can often be seen dressed in costume for historical enactments, festivals and celebrations.
Torrington is a friendly, traditional market town with many award-winning shops, master butchers and bakers; offering quality local produce. There is also wonderful walks and bike trails nearby, including the wonderful ‘Tarka Trail’.
The town centre also boasts cafes, pubs, bank and Post Office within a two minute walk from the main car park. The refurbished Victorian Pannier Market also houses a variety of shops and craft workshops, selling local produce, unusual gifts and collectables.
May Fair is an annual folk festival believed to date back to 1554 in which the children of Torrington dance around a maypole set up in the town square. The event takes place on the first Thursday in May. The junior school children elect a May Queen and she is crowned in the town square after a procession with attendants. There is then Maypole dancing after which the children go off to the fair.
Torrington Common is an area of common land which surrounds the town on all but the eastern side. The common is administered by a body called “The Commons Conservators”. The Common covers 365 acres (148 ha) and has over 20 miles (32 kilometres) of open access public rights of way. The landscape features a variety of habitats and a rich collection of flora and fauna.
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