The thatched village of Cockington is located a mile up the road from Torquay seafront, and just 15 minutes from Galmpton Touring Park. There you will find 450 acres of wonder to explore – Cockington Country Park.
A veritable paradise for nature lovers, gardeners and for those wishing to take in great views during a great day walking, this award-winning Country Park has something for everyone. The Church of St George and Saint Mary was constructed late in the 11th Century and still stands strong today, if you visit, you can enjoy the parkland and countryside via a network of paths and bridleways that allow for leisurely exploration either on foot or by bicycle. There is also an Arboretum south of the cricket pitch, which was historically a deer park.
The main focal point amongst the grounds is Cockington Court – a historic Manor House bustling with activity and things to do. There is the beautiful Rose Garden, ornamental ponds, art galleries, tea-rooms and craft centre’s to discover, whilst kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy the play area.
Alric the Saxon owned the Manor originally before he sold it to William Hostiarus. From there it was passed on to William de Falesia and subsequently to his stepson Robert FitzMartin after he died. During the reign of Henry I, FitzMartin became involved in the Norman invasions of Wales, and so there is a long and colourful history of the Norman invasion and the anarchy of the time well-rooted in the area. Suffice to say that FitzMartin left his land in Cockington to his son, Roger de Cockington and the land stayed in the Cockington family until 1348.
Over the centuries, the estate has changed hands several times, and today you can enjoy the beauty of the area largely thanks to the efforts of the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust, a local, independent charity with more than 1,750 acres of green space across Torbay. As well as the 450 acres of Cockington Country Park, the Trust also protects the natural environment and heritage of Berry Head Nature Reserve and Occombe Farm along with various woodlands, cliffs and coastal walks in the area. The most current project underway within The Trust is the Cockington Green Heart Project, which is focused on rescuing the Linhay in the village centre and converting it into a County Park Centre. This involves developing a programme of volunteering, renovating the lakes, and providing more events and activities in the park.
Craft Studios & Art Galleries
Amongst the grounds at Cockington Court, there are 2 large craft studios where you can see the artists at work, and have the opportunity to purchase high quality goods made on-site.
The Stable Yard studios are workshops for sculptors, artists, tailors, glass blowers and a blacksmith (see list of artists here), whilst the Sea Change studios have sculptors, a chocolatier, accessory makers & upholsterers and jewellery makers and designers, (see list of artists here). There is also a smaller gallery a smaller ‘Cob’ studio behind the Play Area. If you are planning on visiting to see a particular artist, please call them first to check opening and viewing times – as they may differ from person to person.
Apart from seeing these fabulous creators in action, there is also a selection of galleries to explore at Cockington Court. There is a contemporary art gallery and walled art garden which has open-air rooms, hidden artwork and a story-telling area. The most popular, however, is the Kitchen Gallery, which is making quite the name for itself as a successful gallery space – showcasing local artwork alongside internationally acclaimed artists.
The galleries and craft studios have different events on throughout the month – from exhibitions, open days and days to get involved in. For a full list of events, click here.
Getting There and Getting in…
Cockington Court is open daily, from 10am – 4pm between October and March, and 10am – 5pm in April to September and admission is free. To get there by car via Torquay or Paignton, turn at the Livermead Hotel (signposted) and follow the lane down into the Village where you will find two car parks – Cycle Hub and Village. There is also parking available at Cockington Court itself, located behind the Sea Change studios. Once you are in the Village, take a right then turn left to the Drum Inn, keep left and follow the lane down to the car park. The Craft Centre and Cycle Hub car parks are open from 7am – 7pm, whilst the Village car park is 24 hours.
If you are travelling by bus, the Dialabus Service number 62 takes you directly to Cockington Court, and operates from Monday to Friday. The last bus leaves at 4.10pm from the stop located between the Manor and the Sea Change studios. If you are walking however, it is located 1 mile from the Torbay Sea with a walking route signposted starting at Cockington Lane.
Cockington Court is wheelchair accessible, and is a dog-friendly site, so feel free to bring your canine companion along for the day, however they do ask that they be kept on a lead in the gardens and studio areas.