Restoration Project

Torre Abbey Restoration Project

In June we will be working with specialists to conserve and repair multiple parts of our historic building. For the first time in Torre Abbey’s restoration phases, Torre Abbey will remain open while the works are carried out.

This exciting and vital project will conserve and repair the south west and south east ranges of the main mansion, the C14th Mohun Gatehouse, Courtyard 4 including its tower and the north end of the Chapel. Investigation works will also look into the cracking in the lath and plaster in the Chapel, to see what future work would be needed to allow us to open the Chapel fully to the public in the future. 

The restoration works will see windows, cementitious render, the roof in the gatehouse and chapel vestry removed, repaired, and replaced, as well as lowering the ground level to the south façade to regain the bottom step to the south façade doors which has been lost to successive resurfacing works and structural repairs to tie in areas of the walls.

Southeast and Southwest Wings

Much of the outside of the southeast and southwest wings on the sea-facing side of the building will be re-rendered, with accompanying window, door, and ceiling repairs to protect these parts of the Abbey. As part of this work, the Ballroom will be closed to allow the necessary works to be completed. The ground on the south façade (facing the sea) will also be lowered, and landscaping works will restore the carriage sweep and bring a sense of pausing space, allowing visitors and walkers alike a space for quiet contemplation.

Courtyard Four

The masonry of this courtyard will be repaired and lime washed to restore this section of the Abbey to its previous Gothic Revival style.

The Gatehouse

This project will ensure that our gatehouse, dating from around 1375, is preserved for future generations. The current render will be replaced with lime render, bringing the gatehouse back to its original look. The works will also make the gatehouse fully  accessible by the general public for the first time.

The Chapel

The chapel, which was built within the medieval Abbot’s Hall in 1776, is beginning to show signs of cracking.  Investigations will take place to find out why the cracks are forming and how the internal room has been constructed. Due to evidence of bats ecologists will help to carry out the investigations without causing disturbance to them.

The team at Torre Abbey has already started to get ready for the works by packing up the collections in the rooms which will be affected. Next time you visit Torre Abbey you may well find objects in rooms where they aren’t normally and see some of the preparatory cleaning and packing works. From June the south east and south west wings will have scaffolding around them to allow the works to start. As well as the building remaining open and ready for visitors, pathways will remain open and accessible through the site for the many thousands of people who walk through it every week.

Torre Abbey will remain open during this phase of restoration works and plan to bring an exciting series of behind-the-scenes tours and opportunities to delve deeper into how conservation work is undertaken in this nationally significant and complex building.

After the works, visitors to Torre Abbey will see the Gatehouse look quite different. When it was first built the whole of the structure was covered in a lime wash render. Over the centuries of sea air and storms much of this render has been lost and you can now see the brickwork below. As part of these works the remaining medieval render will be restored and sensitively replaced where necessary so that it is returned to its original fully rendered exterior. All the works will be done under the close supervision of architects and archaeologists and in line with all the necessary standards required for the Scheduled Monument site.

The Torre Abbey Restoration Project has been made possible with a grant of £468,993 from the Museum Estate Development Fund using public funds by Arts Council England and £363,748 from the Cultural Assets Fund (CAF); a £20m government funding stream, administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), to protect treasured heritage assets in England from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic  alongside match funding from Torbay Council and the Friends of Torre Abbey (FOTA).

Working in partnership


Restoration Project – Frequently Asked QuestionsUpdated June 2023 


What work is being carried out? 

This restoration will include the gatehouse, the courtyard behind the learning lab, and the Southeast and Southwest Wings. There will also be investigations into the Chapel to see what future work would be needed to allow us to open the Chapel fully to the public in the future. We will be lowering the ground level to the south front to reinstate the bottom step and show an indication of the carriage sweep. We’re going to look different for a while with the addition of scaffolding around some of the building, but once the work is completed, even more of the Abbey will be accessible for you to explore. 

When is the work happening? 
  • The contractors are on site from June, and the works should be completed by June 2024. 
  • Scaffolding will go up around much of the building over the summer.  
  • Gatehouse work should start in August and take 4.5 months, with scaffolding due to come down late December/early January. 
  • Work on the main building (café-end and Learning Lab-end) should also start in August and take 3 months, with main building scaffolding hopefully coming down in November. 
  • The Chapel investigations are due to start early in 2024 – we will have more information available nearer the time. 
  • There will be landscaping outside the sea-facing side of the building at the end of the project, which will be complete by Summer 2024. 
Are you staying open? 

Yes! Our opening hours will stay the same, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, last admission 4pm. 

Who is carrying out the work? 

The main contractors for the project are Corbel Conservation Ltd and have been selected through Torbay Council’s procurement process. Corbel have a strong history in working at sensitive and historic sites. In the procurement process they scored the highest in terms of both quality (how they will approach the works and experience of the team and working in similar settings) and price (value of money to us and the funders). 

Who is paying for it? 

This project is being funded through grants from MEND administered by the Arts Council and a Covid fund from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. This has been matched by funding from the Friends of Torre Abbey and Torbay Council. The project cost has increased from £1.3m to £1.8m with additional funding from Torbay Council. This is due to increased cost of energy and materials. None of this would be possible without the funding from these organisations and the vital match which supported our applications, which we are very grateful for. 

What is MEND? 

The Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) is an open-access capital fund targeted at non-national Accredited museums and local authorities based in England to apply for funding to undertake vital infrastructure and urgent maintenance backlogs which are beyond the scope of day-to-day maintenance budgets.  The criteria for the Museum Estate and Development Fund have been set by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), Arts Council England, Historic England (HE) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). The grants are administered, awarded, and monitored by Arts Council England. Funding has been provided by DCMS. (Information from Arts Council Website) 

Who are the National Heritage Memorial Fund? 

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up to save some of the UK’s finest heritage at risk of loss. Taken together, the treasures it saves form a permanent memorial to those who have given their lives for the UK.  

As a fund of last resort, NHMF provides financial assistance towards the acquisition, preservation, and maintenance of some of the UK’s finest objects and landscapes. These range from historic houses and works of art to trains, boats, and ancient landscapes. NHMF receives annual grant-in-aid of £5 million from the UK government to help save some of our most-loved treasures from being lost forever. (Information from NHMF website)