Totnes claims to be one of the oldest boroughs in Devon. According to legend, Brutus of Troy sailed to these islands in 1200BC, founding the settlement at Totnes and also the kingdom of the Britons. The Brutus Stone, set in the pavement of the town's High Street, commemorates this event. However, it is more likely that these islands were named much later, possibly after a Roman Consul call Brutus, although there is no solid evidence for either theory.
The ancient East Gate at the top of Fore St © TAB
The earliest recorded settlement began in the 10th-C and during the Middle Ages Totnes became a Borough town with a Merchant Guild, Norman Castle and a defensive wall sporting four gateways. Two of the town gates are still standing today. The North Gate near the castle and the East Gate, which has flight of steps leading up to Rampart Walk, which follows the line of the original medieval wall.
The town's attractive narrow main street has many interesting old buildings, among them the half-timber framed Merchant's House currently housing the town museum and the Guildhall, a charming ancient stone building.
The town centre boasts some of the nicest antique shops, silversmiths and boutiques in Devon. The narrow High Street is lined with 16-17th-C wealthy merchant's houses and old shops built of timber, brick and stone with colourful facades. At the top of the street is the arcaded Butterwalk, where its porticoed frontages provide a charming covered walkway. Mid way along the High Street is the parish church of St Mary, one of Devon's finest. It is mainly 15th-C with a tall west tower, arcades and an impressive roof. Its most outstanding feature is a superb stone screen (circa 1460), rivaled only by Exeter Cathedral.
Tourist Information Centre:
|The Town Mill, Coronation Road, Totnes, Devon. TQ9 5DF - Tel: 01803 863168|
Small Norman castle affording spectacular panoramic views over Totnes and the surrounding countryside. Noted to be one of the finest preserved motte and bailey castles in Devon.
Run by English Heritage*
Opening times: Apr~Jun & Sep: daily 10-5; Jul~Aug: daily 10-6; Oct: daily 10-4 Admission Charge*
Location: Castle, St, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5NU - Tel: 01803 864406 - Website
Facilities: Parking (70m charged), gift shop
Part of the original 11th-c Benedictine Priory of Totnes. It became the town's Guildhall in 1624 and is still in use today as a council chamber.
Opening times: Apr~Sep, Mon-Wed, 10am to 3pm Small Admission Charge
Location: Ramparts Walk, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5QH - Tel: 01803 862147 - Website
Facilities: parking (50 metres)
Housed in a restored 16th-c Elizabethan merchant's house, the museum's exhibits cover social history and local archaeological. Includes an exhibition on Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first computer, who attended the King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes for a time.
Opening times: Mar-Oct, Mon-Fri 10.30am to 5pm Admission Charge
Location: 70 Fore St, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5RU - Tel: 01803 863821 Website