Lots of places still have a ‘Clink’ and Paignton is no exception but this Grade 2 listed building started life back in the 1500s.
It’s tucked away in the back streets of old Paignton not far from Kirkham House.
Originally built next to the local constable’s cottage (long disappeared), it was last used as a lock-up back in 1867. It comprises of 2 single cells about 8ft x 6ft with 1 narrow window in each.
A tale goes that a prisoner by the name of Tom Maxlow prised up a flagstone in one of the cells and dropped through into a culvert that apparently still runs underneath the prison and emerged down on the shore marshland.
Today The Clink is owned by Torbay Council and volunteers from the local civic society help to look after it.
Because it's not near the beach or main family attractions many people overlook Oldway Mansion. It's easy to get to and easy to find - once you know where to look.
It's situated at Preston which used to be a village in its own right before being swallowed up by Paignton. Preston is situated on the Torquay Rd and can be reached by catching the No.12 bus that runs between Brixham, Paignton, Torquay and Newton Abbot. The buses run frequently and Oldway Mansion is a stones throw from the Preston bus stop. You can easily walk there from Paignton town centre or the beach if you prefer.
Oldway Mansion is the former home of the Singer family, whose sewing machines were a household name and modelled on the Palace of Versailles.
Until recently it was used by Torbay Council as offices and the interior, grounds and sporting facilities were all freely accessible to the general public.
The main entrance brings you to the Grand Staircase where in the Gallery above a huge painting dominates the main wall. It's a replica of the original that Paris Singer bought in 1898. The original by Jaques-Louis David is entitled Le Sacre de Napoleon (Coronation of Napoleon) and was here until 1946. It was sold to the French government who passed it on to the Palace of Versailles. It now hangs in the Salle du Sacre which is where it was always intended to be. The painting depicts Napoleon crowning Empress Josephine in Notre Dame in 1804.
On the first floor Gallery you can see a mini 'Hall of Mirrors' with its parquet floor and marble walls and balustrades.
Outside, the gardens and grounds are a sheer delight and a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of the town.
Oldway may not even come close to matching the grandeur and history of Versailles but while its free to wander in and around it should be on everyone's list who comes to Paignton.
Latest News on the future of Oldway Mansion :- (July 6th 2013)
The council has now sold the property to the Akkeron Hotel group with a view to restoring the building for use as a 4*+ hotel. There will be other development within the grounds but the gardens, grounds and sports facilities will be improved for the general public to enjoy.
The building has been vacated by the council and building work is yet to commence. In the meantime the public can still access the interior through the café, and the gardens and grounds are freely accessible. I'll try to keep updating this page as things develop.
Occombe Farm belongs to the local conservation group known as the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust.
The TCCT also manages Berry Head Nature Reserve at Brixham, Cockington Country Park in Torquay and the Seashore Centre at Goodrington.
These environmentally sensitive areas are farmed organically with livestock based at Occombe and the aim of the trust’s farm is to combine “a balance of food production, animal welfare and environmental stewardship”
From a visitor’s perspective at Occombe Farm the trust’s aim is to try and re-connect people with where their food comes from.
The first port of call should be the visitor centre to find out what goes on here and pick up a map of the nature trail which is an easy 2km walk. If you’re lucky you may even spot the rare cirl bunting which is almost exclusively confined to Devon.
There’s also an organic vegetable garden as well as livestock including the Ruby Red Devon cattle.
After your visit you may well want to use the café which uses produce from the farm shop. The farm shop sells not only food produced on the farm, but from other local suppliers as well.
If all this gives you an appetite to start cooking yourself you can enrol in a cookery class. It’s one of the events that are regularly held here, and if you’ve enjoyed the local drinks as well why not come to the Occombe Beer Festival, held each year in June.
Kirkham House is one of the oldest town houses in Devon and dates from the late 14th cent.
It would have gone the same way as most other examples of this period if it hadn't been for the foresight and generosity of a local woman named Ada Jennings.
The original house would have belonged to someone of some standing but by 1840 the house had been converted into three dwellings and stayed like that until the whole lot was condemned in the 1930s. Mrs Jennings realised the importance of the derelict cottages and managed to buy them for £600, which was a lot of money then. She then set about getting this 'medieval hall house with cross passage' restored but never lived long enough to see it completed, but she left the property and £9,000 'to the nation' for its restoration which was completed in 1960.
This is not a grand place by any means but when you consider that it has probably the oldest domestic fireplace still existing in the country and it costs nothing to come here why would you come to Paignton and not visit Kirkham House?
There is one reason perhaps and that is due to the opening times. The property is owned by English Heritage and helped run by volunteers of the Paignton Heritage Society. It's normally open from Easter to mid-September and then only on a Sunday.. It's not ever going to be a major attraction but if ever you are here when it's open it'll give you a taste of what life used to be like here all those years ago. Oh! and by the way the volunteers are smashing people.
The SouthWest Coastal Path is Britain's longest footpath; following the coastline for 630 miles from Minehead in North Somerset, round the point at Lands End and then onwards to Poole in South Dorset (or of course vice-versa, depending on your start point). Devon is doubly-blessed in having two distinct sections by virtue of its twin coasts.
The section here from Paignton to Brixham (heading east) is a delight and just strenuous enough for you to feel that you deserve that beer when you get to your destination.
If you start just after the harbour it's about five miles to Brixham's centre and should take two to two and a half hours (depending on how many pics you take en route). To begin you get the ascent from the red sandstone cliffs up to the park at Roundham Head where the path follows the clifftops round to the descent through the gardens at Goodrington.
Here the beach fronts the line of the Paignton Steam Railway and the trains provide a great pictorial backdrop during their season but with my visit being in winter these weren't running. After the beach at Goodrington the path crosses the railway line and then rises quite steeply to the headland above Saltern Cove before continuing slightly inland under the railway viaduct to Broadsands and another level stretch as you skirt the beach here.
From Broadsands the path continues round the rocky coastline of Churston Point and the shingle beach of Elberry Cove before rising into the woods after the castle-like ruins of the former Elberry Bathouse. The woodland path offers glimpses of the sea until it suddenly opens out on the stunning vista of Churston Cove with Brixham Harbour's Breakwater jutting out to sea.
Then the path gently undulates until arriving in Brixham proper at the western side of the harbour.