Great Torrington – The Cavalier Town
This friendly, welcoming town, set in the heart of rolling, unspoilt green countryside, has become recognised as an important heritage centre for the history of the 17th century.
Great Torrington had a significant role in the English Civil War, specifically, the Battle of Great Torrington in 1646 which marked the end of the Royalist resistance in the West Country. This led to the eventual defeat and execution of King Charles 1.
Great Torrington today is a vibrant community and people in the town, proud of their heritage, can often be seen dressed in 17th century costume for re-enactments, festivals and celebrations. Great Torrington, the town on the River Torridge, is an ancient settlement extraordinarily sited on a cliff top with steep drops down to the River Torridge below. This impressive situation has always been valued for its strategic importance; now it is valued for its spectacular views. The Torridge Valley lies in the very heart of Tarka Country. This wonderful landscape has remained practically unchanged since Henry Williamson found inspiration here to write his classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ in the 1920’s.
On the first Thursday in May the annual May Fair celebration takes place, first held in 1554, complete with the crowning of the May Queen plus Maypole and Floral dancing in the Town Square (see video below). The Fair culminates with the Carnival procession on the following Saturday night. Later in the year there is a week of entertainment by the town’s own Silver Band. Every few years there is a bonfire night celebration that is second to none and then as Christmas approaches, a candlelit “Big Sing”.