- So where is Cockington & what is so special about it? Read all about Cockington.
Cockington Village in Devon. Read all about it!
It is possibly one of the most photographed villages in England. It is situated in Cockington valley, between Torquay and Paignton, on The English Riviera, Torbay.
It is a peaceful, preserved village of predominantly thatched cottages, surrounded by approximately 450 acres of Cockington Country Park. It is thought to receive ½ million visitors a year.
Travel to Cockington
From the seafront at Livermead, it is under a mile and a 10-15 minute level walk.
Torbay mini buses run service No. 62 from stand H on Torquay Harbourside to and from the village Monday to Friday, generally between the hours of 10am to 3pm. It is 2 ½ miles from Torquay Harbour side.
From the no. 12 or 12A bus along Torbay road (from Torquay, Paignton or Brixham) alight and walk along Cockington Lane then take the signed footpath through the water meadows.
There are two car parks in the village centre and a car park behind Cockington Court (accessed by the side road near the entrance to the pub). All parking requires payment.
Torquay train station is at nearby Chelston. With the entrance of The Grand Hotel in front of you, turn right, over the railway bridge then follow Hannapyn Road to the junction with Old Mill road. Turn left then immediately right onto the Water meadows path.
Short History of Cockington
Believed to have been a settlement here since at least Saxon times, the Doomsday book of 1066 implies that it was a thriving place during the 1080’s.
Owned by the Cary family from 1371 to 1654, you will find many references to the Cary name within the estate and surrounding areas. They were a very influential family as many represented Devon in Parliament. Sold to Roger Mallock in 1654, a wealthy Goldsmith from Exeter, the estate was owned by various generations until it was sold by Richard Mallock in 1932 to Torbay Council. At the end of the Second World War, the Council no longer had the funds to maintain the village houses and they were put up for auction as a job lot. The lot was purchased by The Prudential Assurance Company whilst the Council retained ownership of Cockington Court Manor House and 300 acres of land.
In the mid17th century, there were approximately 360 village residents who were mainly involved in either fishing or agriculture. Today, the number of residents would not exceed 60.
Cockington Village has a visitor centre where you can find out more about the history of Cockington and Torre Abbey Museum in Torquay is an excellent attraction and also very informative about the Cary & Mallock families.
Cockington Court manor house
Believed to have been built roughly in its current form in 1679 by Rawlyn Mallock, he was also responsible for much of the landscaping that can still be seen today. He also created a walled off area in the park to create a rabbit warren in the area where Gamekeepers Cottage can be seen today near the Lakes.
Many years later in the hands of ancestor Roger Mallock (1786-1846) the house was modified in 1820 by removing the gables of the two wings and reducing the height of the second story, the windows of which became skylights. Many other windows were blocked up or boarded over to reduce his tax liability when the window tax of 1696 was introduced. He also added the pillars either side of the entrance. There were a number of other buildings in front of the house, including the almshouses, but these were all cleared around 1820 to allow a clear view from the house.
By the mid 1830’s Torquay had become a popular tourist destination and Cockington a suburb of Torquay. Roger Mallock was not happy with visitors wandering around his estate so he became involved in diverting the lane from the seafront to Cockington and had the lower lodge gatehouse built to clearly mark his territory!
Richard Herbert Mallock, the last private owner of Cockington Court was equally keen to keep the tourists out and he had a gate constructed at the main entrance to the court grounds (by Upper Lodge) which he kept locked. This caused a problem for the parishioners of the Church who had no legal right of access until the High Court of Justice issued an order allowing restricted access to the parishioners.
In 1932 RH Mallock sold most of the estate followed by the remainder of the village in 1934 to Cockington Trust who managed it until after the second world war. Later in 1932, Torquay Borough Council purchased the freehold of Cockington Court and approx 300 acres of land. In 1946, the village properties were put up for auction by Cockington Trust & The Prudential building society purchased them all.
Cockington Court was thereafter used for a variety of purposes: the home of Lord Rothermere’s art collection, an ice cream factory and a home for the Parks department. At the beginning of the 1990’s it became the home of the Devon Royal Skills Trust and underwent extensive renovations to create a craft centre where people could watch rural crafts in the making.
Cockington Craft Centre-
Within Cockington Court itself, the stable yard behind and brand new purpose built studios are 20 or so independent crafts businesses. You are able to watch them create unique items within their workshops and purchase many items directly. Many of the ‘creators’ produce bespoke, commissioned pieces. Examples of crafts include glass blowing, silversmithing, leather working, blacksmithing and furniture making. More details can be found here
The Parish Church of St George & St Mary, sits very close to Cockington Court. The oldest part of the Church that can be seen today is the tower, constructed between 1210 and 1230, although it is believed a chapel existed on this site from Saxon times. The chapel was enlarged in the 13th C and then again in the 14th C by the monks at nearby Torre Abbey. During the reformation the church was stripped of its ornamentation and Latin mass was forbidden and replaced by an English Service. During the reign of Cromwell from 1649 to 1660, the stained glass windows were smashed, the building whitewashed and any remaining decoration destroyed. From 1881 onwards, a programme of restoration was undertaken including new bells, leaded windows and a rood screen. During the Second World War two German bombs landed nearby resulting in roof damage and stained glass windows smashed. Strangely, the church has no graveyard and it is unclear why this is so!
Cockington offers a beautiful setting for a wedding & many of the craftspeople offer wedding services such as flower arranging (http://www.flowerlavita.co.uk )
Civil ceremonies take place in Cockington Court with 2 separate rooms available. For more information: https://www.cockingtoncourt.org/weddings/the-hayloft and of course, weddings for parishioners take place in Cockington Church (https://www.facebook.com/CockingtonPC/.
Cockington Country Park-
Whilst the surrounding areas of Livermead and Chelston have been developed, Cockington Valley has been preserved and Cockington Village nestles within it.
There are 3 lakes which were created by Torquay Borough council and recently restored, but there have been fish ponds in Cockington going back centuries, probably created by the monks for the harvesting of trout and carp. The lakes are a haven for wildlife and a very popular feature for locals & tourists alike with plenty of ducks to feed within peaceful surroundings.
The sweeping gardens in front of Cockington Court are planted with specimen trees surrounding a wide grass bowl traditionally enjoyed by Cockington Cricket club and to the rear/north of the Court there are acres of apple trees that were traditionally used for making cider. ‘Apple Day’ is a popular event in Cockington during the autumn.
Also to the rear of Cockington Court is the beautiful Rose Garden, a favourite spot for wedding day photos for the many couples that get married here.
A little further back, beyond the craft maker’s studios, is a children’s play area and a produce garden.
All around the park you will find well maintained paths making much of the park accessible to all. The remainder of the park is a mixture of woodland with many paths to explore and farmland where you may see sheep and cattle grazing.
Cockington Village is world famous for its thatched cottages. Many of the buildings are over 300 years old and the original labourers cottages are built from cob (a mixture of straw & earth) and thatched as these were the cheapest construction materials of the time. Originally, wheat reed would have been used for thatching and grown locally.
Probably the most famous building, The Forge, was a blacksmiths forge and many people still refer to the village as Cockington Forge. It is believed to date back to the 14th century. During the 20th century miniature horse shoes were made and sold here and were incredibly popular. Visitors used to leave cards with their names and addresses pushed into the thatch but this practice was stopped many years ago as it was deemed a fire hazard! The forge closed in 1971 and now operates as a gift shop.
Next door, is an attractive pink cottage called Rose Cottage. Traditionally this was the home of the Blacksmith but was also the birthplace of Robert Sweet, a renowned horticulturist. It has also been used as a Post Office and village store and between the years 1933-1939 was used by handloom weavers.
In 1939 the weavers moved over the road to what is now called Weavers Cottage.
To the rear of Weavers Cottage stands the recently restored water wheel fed by a mill pond. Originally constructed in 1435 it was used to both power the grinding of flour in the attached Mill (now a home) and to power machines for sawing timber, threshing and grinding corn and combing reed for thatching. Grain produced by the mill was once stored in The Granary, now a gift shop.
Also in the village centre stands The Old School House, with Court Cottage behind; a 15th century Devon longhouse. The layout of a longhouse was such that cattle could be stored at the lower levels of the property. The old school house was the original livestock barn and was redeveloped into the Cockington estate office in 1861. For a short period of time it was used as a court house and then became the village school. Currently, The Old School house serves as a gift shop and takeaway cafe with outside seating.
There are two exceptionally attractive cottages situated at 2 of the 3 entrances into the park surrounding Cockington Court Manor House. Lower Lodge Cottage, originally home of the school mistress was built by Reverend Roger Mallock. Higher Lodge was built in 1710 when the previous property was destroyed by fire. It has a roof that overshoots the main building and is supported by tree trunks.
Heading away from the village centre, Lanscombe House can be seen on the RHS on the outskirts of the village. It was rebuilt towards the end of the 19th C as the Dower House for Cockington Court after a fire destroyed the original building in 1881 . As such, it is much grander than other village properties and was built of stone with a slate roof. The original stables and barn belonging to this property have long been converted into separate homes. The original use of this site was as a tannery and it’s believed there were tanning pits where the large garden currently is. The building is reputed to be haunted although the current owners have never seen a ghost!
Whilst operating as a Hotel for many years (Lanscombe House hotel) the property has recently been adapted to provide a luxury 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom holiday home for 4 people and is available for holiday rent all year round www.cockingtoncottages.co.uk
Heading back to the village and north of The Drum Inn you can see The Almshouses. Originally build in front of Cockington Court, these were later moved to this more discrete location. Originally, the oldest and poorest members of the parish were offered these but they are now managed by a local housing trust and its occupants are no longer Cockington village residents born & bred.
The Drum Inn
Sir Edward Lutyens, the acclaimed architect, was commissioned by The Cockington Trust to redesign the village in the 1920’s. Grand plans were drawn up to build large new houses and shops in keeping with the original buildings centred around a village green. The Drum Inn was the only building to be built as plans were halted as a result of the Second World War. It was completed in 1936 and whilst initially named The Forge Inn was renamed The Drum Inn after a poem written by Laurence Whistler and given to Lutyens, and in turn given to the proprietors of the inn. The poem is engraved on glass and can be viewed at The Drum Inn today.
The pub is now owned and managed by the chain Vintage Inn and was re-thatched and given an internal makeover in 2019. It’s a large, inclusive pub/ restaurant where dogs and children are welcomed and food is served all day. There is extensive seating both inside and out and enjoys lovely views over the village and surrounding area. https://www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/south-west/thedruminncockington
The Visitor Centre holds the historical stories of the Country Park. Read all about the parks natural heritage and hear tales of the past. It stocks a range of unique quality gifts and you can buy seasonal trail sheets too. There are both Audio and British Sign Language Tours and you can hire an all-terrain mobility tramper too. Open April to end of October, 10am to 4pm. November to end of March: open only for specific events 10am to 4pm. Outside of these times you can call 01803 520 022 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org’
Tucked away behind Lanscombe House and incredibly peaceful lies Mallock Cottage, a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom holiday home ideal for 2 couples or families with older children. Professionally managed by the owners who live on site the cottage has achieved 5 stars from The AA and provides a stylishly designed holiday retreat. Enjoy a holiday right in the heart of Cockington Country park with easy access to all the attractions of The English Riviera nearby.
Many thanks to Jo Connell, author of Cockington ISBN 978 0 946651 84 9 and Brian Read, author of Cockington Bygones ISBN 978 0 95324508 6 and local historian Robin Emdon for much of the information in this blog.
If you would like more information, do not hesitate to contact me and I will try to help.
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