Torrington square and the roads leading into it are a conservation area with a certain degree of Georgian feeling and there are many Grade II listed buildings worthy of notice. These include the Black Horse Inn which is believed to date from the 15th century, the Globe Inn, formerly a hotel and coaching inn, the present building dating from 1830, and the Plough arts centre, a red brick neo-Georgian building of 1913. The colonnaded Town Hall, once called the Guild Hall, dates from the 16th century and there have been additions and restorations made over the years, the present Town Hall being built in 1861. Behind the Town Hall is an area which in the 17th century held the old slaughter house and meat market, known as ‘the shambles’, as well as the ancient lock-ups and stocks.
At the lower end of the square is the Market House in South Street which was built in 1842. At 28 South Street is a fine house built in 1701 and completely restored by the Landmark Trust in 1996 using authentic materials wherever possible. This house can be rented by holidaymakers from the Landmark Trust and can sleep up to seven people. Further up the street, on the same side, is number 42, Furse House, built in about 1810. Number 50 South Street, known as Windy Cross House, is a large four-storey house which dates from the 1820s which may have been built as a boarding house and was owned by a couple of doctors in the early 20th century who may well have held surgeries there. In Whites Lane stands the old glove factory built in 1884 which has lain empty for some years waiting for a buyer to convert it into a building with a present-day use.
The vicarage opposite the parish church in New Street dates from 1841 although it stands on the site of a much older manor house. Palmer House opposite the western entrance to the church is one of Torrington’s most historic buildings and has been called a ‘house of style and consequence’. It was built in 1752 by John Palmer, an attorney who was several times Mayor and whose wife, Mary, was the eldest sister of Sir Joshua Reynolds who used to visit occasionally.
(For more details of these and other buildings of interest, see ‘Torrington Uncovered’ by Moira Brewer)