Getting Around The Area By Bus
Tavistock's main bus station is on Plymouth Road, just after the Bedford Hotel. From here the Devon subsidiaries of First Group and Stagecoach operate services around the County and out onto the moor. There are also other local services provided by Beacon Bus.
The main services run to Plymouth to the south and to Barnstaple in the north and there are are a couple of cross-moor local services. For details and timetables follow the links below.
Pretty On The Eye - Stunning On The Palate!
Food's my thing - I eat very little else ;)
Here at Browns they do food which is both visually spectacular and very tasty. I'd eaten here many years ago and enjoyed - this visit superceded my memories.
I was just looking for a light, very late, lunch and the Brasserie Menu had pretty much what I was after - this is served all day. The sun was out and the tidy walled-in courtyard with its bamboo seating and potted plants beckoned. Service was excellent, the bar manager chatty ( it transpired that we had both worked at the Bedford Hotel, but not at the same time), the waitress pretty (which is always good!) and everything was very relaxed and easy-going.
I was the only customer out in the courtyard and so I can't really make any comments regarding ambience but I can imagine if its busy it will be buzzy. Let me start with the beer! There's no draught proper beer here but an interesting fridge of bottles makes up for that. I didn't recognise one of them and so enquired. "St Austell's "Admirals Ale", voted the "Supreme Champion" in the 2008 International Beer Challenge." Was the reply. OK, if it's the World's Best - that's the beer sorted!
Now to the food:
The Rillettes of Chicken with Roasted Hazelnuts, Blue Brie Salad were superb - meaty tasty chicken, perfectly crispy salad, great dressing and the hazelnuts giving a crunch to the whole thing. The accompaniement of home-made bread (sesame-seeded and tomato) made for the filler and the little trio of dips left me in foodie heaven.
Not the cheapest place in town but definitely one of the best (I say "one of the best" because we used to do as good at The Bedford when I was there!).
"The Gateway to Dartmoor"
Tavistock is situated in the picturesque valley of the river Tavy, from which it takes its name. The town lies on the western fringes of Dartmoor, and, to me living in Cornwall, is the 'Gateway to the Moors'. It grew from a hamlet when the Benedictine Abbey was founded there in the year 974. As the community became the largest and wealthiest in the west, so the town expanded. The Abbey virtually owned Tavistock from the 10th to the 16th century, and at the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was the gift of Henry VIII to his friend John Russel, the first Earl of Bedford, whose family owned it until the last century (the 20th!).
In the 12th century, tin was found in large quantities on the southwest edge of Dartmoor, providing the largest source in Europe. This mining boom was followed by an expansion in the cloth trade, and that in turn by the mining of copper which reached its peak in the 1860s when Devon Great Consols mine proved the richest in the world. A further development was the extraction of arsenic. The countryside around Tavistock and the nearby River Tamar (the 'border between Devon and Cornwall), is littered with the crumbling remains of the once majestic mine buildings. A canal was build here in 1817 to connect with the hamlet of Morwellham, on the River Tamar. (Morwelham is now a restored site, and a very popular tourist attraction). The decline in mining was coincident with the increase in popularity of the town as a pleasant and healthy place to live, and the hillsides are covered with fine houses.
Today Tavistock is a cheerful, thriving and busy market town, and is well worth a visit especially for the pleasing appearance of its many fine buildings, which reflect the former wealth of the town. The Bedford Hotel was built as a private house in 1726 on the site of the Abbey refectory. The Guildhall was built in 1848.
"The Stannary Towns"
The Moors have been worked for tin from prehistoric times until the middle of the 16th century, and at various intervals afterwards, particularly during the two World War periods. Some time prior to 1305 the tinners of Devon separated from those of Cornwall, and Tavistock, along with Ashburton, and Chagford were appointed Stannary Towns, for the weighing and stamping of tin. Plympton, near to what is now Plymouth, was added later as it was nearer to the seaboard and therefore handy for the coastwise and export trade.
The tinners had their own parliament, the Stannary Parliament, which regulated the industry in all respects. This court was originally held upon Hingston Down, just across the Tamar in Cornwall, but when the miners of Cornwall and Devon separated the latter met on Crockern Tor, near Two Bridges (see above). There are still people in the two counties who believe in the Stannary Parliament, and in its powers, which, they claim, have never been revoked. The last working tin mine - in Cornwall - closed 3 years ago, and is unlikely to reopen, so ending a long and colourful chapter in the history of the region.
Tavi: Built To Last!
"The Strangeness Of Being A Tourist!"
Tavistock is a place which holds many fond memories. In the late 90's I worked for a small hotel group, Warm Welcombe Hotels which own two very individual hotels in the area.
When I worked out at Two Bridges Tavi was the place where I went on my days off to get my laundry done, do my shopping and, of course, have a few beers. I even used to eat here, before, during and after the beers! Having finished my contract at Two Bridges I subsequently rejoined the group when it bought The Bedford Hotel in the town centre - and so more beers were enjoyed and I ended up on first name terms with most of the local publicans!
On this visit however I only had a couple of hours which I spent wandering and reaquainting myself with the town and so only managed one pub visit - to the Tavi Inn in the town centre. Unfortunately the old publican that I knew there has moved on, as have the crowd that I used to catch every afternoon during my break between shifts but the pub still has the friendliness and ambience that I remember.
The town itself has hardly changed, except that my favourite tobacco shop is no more, and walking its streets as a tourist I came to appreciate just how attractive it is. Previously I'd sort of taken it for granted and hadn't really noticed the detail and craftmanship of the buildings, the variety of independent specialist shops and the general feel of civic pride which the place has.
This really is an attractive little town.
"A Little Overview Of The Town"
Tavistock is West Devon's main market town and nestles in the lush valley of the River Tavy on the Western edge of Dartmoor. Tavistock has a rich history becoming a major town just before the turn of the first millenium when its Benedictine Abbey was built.
It got its charter as a market town in the early 1100's and became a stannary town (where the local tin miners had their metal assayed and sold) in 1281.
Henry the VIII's Dissolution of the Monastaries resulted in the Abbey being demolished in 1539 and the town being essentially gifted to the Russell family who later became the Dukes of Bedford.
During the 19th Century the town prospered as an important copper mining centre whilst maintaining its position as a major market town. The 7th Duke of Bedford, who did quite well out of all this, ploughed much of his profits into the town's development and was responsible for the building of the Town Hall (above), the new bridge (adjacent), the Pannier Market (below) and much of the town's other solid stone buildings.
The modern town has seen very few changes since the 7th Duke rebuilt it (many of the buildings are now listed). The railway came and went, leaving behind its magnificent viaduct towering over the top end of the town, and apart from the rather hideously incongruous new supermarket not much else has changed.
This isn't a stagnant timelessness though. The town is busy, buzy and is even quite trendy with a lively arts scene, excellent independent shops and public spaces and sporting facilities galore.
It says something about a town that when McDonalds opened shop here they had to close quite soon afterwards through lack of business!!!
It's not that there isn't any business, as a visit to any of the thriving and vibrant cafes, restaurants and pubs will attest, but simply that McDonalds just couldn't compete against what is very much a discerning clientele.
There are fast-food places here, such as TJ's Fish & Chips and Warrens Pasties, to name but two, but these are locally-owned and whilst not cheap, cheap the locals would rather spend that little extra and get something decent - Nice One Tavi!
More about "Foodie Tavi" on forthcoming restaurant and shopping tips.