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Tucked away a mere half mile from Torquay is the quaint and adorable Cockington Village!
You’ll escape from the bustling seafront and travel back in time to a world of picturesque thatched cottages, blacksmith forges and stately mansions!
I couldn’t quite believe that this little hive with a glimpse into a forgotten time existed in the heart of Devon. Plus, I was shocked at just how many things there were to do in Cockington Village too.
From walks in the countryside, tea in the beautiful gardens, admiring, old water mills, horse and carriage rides and even iconic red telephone boxes; there is plenty to do here on a day out.
So, in this ultimate Cockington travel guide, I’m going to take you on a guided tour and let you in on all the amazing things to do in Cockington Village & Court too!
The history of Cockington Village
Despite this adorable village looking like something that belongs in the 19th century, it actually had its humble beginnings over 2,500 years ago in the Iron Age!
We know this as there are two hill forts found in Cockington Valley from early settlers in the area.
There is also evidence to suggest that this little place was a small Saxon fishing and farming village where the recorded history of Cockington first began in the 10th century.
Archaeologists have discovered artifacts from this village outside of The Drum Inn and at this time it was owned by Alric the Saxon.
Eventually, the estate belonged to Roger de Cockington in the medieval era, who changed his name to suit being Lord of the estate!
The Cockington’s were here from 1048–1348. Then, the Cary family took over from 1375 to 1654 who was a famous family name in these parts. They used to own Torre Abbey nearby!
Many of the cottages in this village date back to the 16th century when the Cary family managed the area.
During the Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell took over, the number of fines being charged to the Cary family were stretching the family finances. So, it was sold off to the Mallock Family to cover the debt.
The Mallock family were gold and silversmiths from Exeter. They bought the estate in 1654 and continued to manage it until 1932. Then it was sold to the Torquay Corporation.
Cockington Court Agatha Christie connection
You can’t go far in Devon without a connection to Agatha Christie! She was born in Torquay and the area inspired many of her novels and works.
During the Mallock’s time at Cockington, Agatha Christie was a friend of the family and she used to visit them often.
She used to partake in some amateur dramatics right here at Cockington Court despite the fact she was quite shy!
Later, she used Cockington Court as inspiration for her book ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’ that was dedicated to Christopher Mallock.
Where is Cockington Village in Devon?
Cockington Village really is a hidden gem in the Torbay area of Devon. It’s tucked away in the countryside only half a mile away from busy Torquay!
Something you may not know is that Torquay is built on seven hills, so you’ll find the area quite steep and hilly!
Cockington Village is located lower down in amongst these hills. So, if you’re driving here, be prepared for winding roads and small single-file lanes.
Although there are options to get here via public transport and on foot too.
How to reach Cockington Village in Devon
There are plenty of transport options for Cockington Village and, if it’s a nice day, it’s easily accessible by walking too!
Cockington Village on foot & bicycle – if you’re walking to Cockington Village, it should only take you around 30 minutes (give or take) from Torquay harbour front. It’s also the same amount of time from Livermead Sands. So, it makes it a nice stroll or bike ride in the countryside.
Bus to Cockington Village – There is a number 62 bus service from Torquay harbour that will take you directly to Cockington Village & Court. The last bus leaves Cockington Court around 4.15 pm so don’t miss it!
Driving to Cockington Village – if you’re driving to the village, it’s really well signposted from Torquay Harbour. You just need to follow the brown signs to Cockington Country Park!
But, as before, the roads are tiny and cars drive both ways. The postcode for Cockington Village is TQ26XD.
Cockington Village Parking options
There are a couple of car parks located in Cockington Village and Court. Much like all of Devon, it’s Pay & Display by the hour.
Cockington Village Car Park – is a 24-hour car park with just over 60 spaces and disabled parking too. It’s £1 an hour for up to 3 hours and then after that, it’s £4.50 for over 4 hours.
Cockington Court Car Park – is open from 7 am – 7 pm and is also pay and display. To find it, you’ll need to drive past The Drum Inn.
Cockington Visitor Centre
If you’ve just arrived in Cockington Village, it may be worth starting your journey inside the wonderful Cockington Visitor Centre.
Inside, they have helpful staff and a small interactive exhibition where you can learn about history and life in the village.
Don’t forget to pick up a few leaflets to guide you around!
14 magical things to do in Cockington Village
So, what are all the amazing things to do in Cockington Village? Well, let me show you around on a guided tour!
There is something for everyone here. Whether you want to distract the kids, take a walk into nature, are a history lover, or would like some Instagram photos!
1. Snap the incredible Cockington Rose Cottage
I shamefully have to admit that Rose Cottage was the reason why I drove here in Torbay! It’s definitely the most Instagrammable spot in the village and it’s absolutely adorable.
But, as it was being sold off and closed in the winter, this was a big Instagram vs. reality moment for me.
There was red construction all over the front of the house to stop parking there!
Not to worry, you can definitely work around it for some prettier angles. But, just thought I’d warn you that it’s a bit of a shock.
Cockington Rose Cottage is a Grade II listed building that dates back to the 18th century. It was home to the Davey’s for many years who worked at the Cockington Forge opposite.
The outside of the cottage is entirely painted a pretty PINK colour with a beautiful sloped thatched roof.
Having stalked the inside of it as well online, it has six rooms and still has the original exposed beams inside.
It’s currently on the market for just shy of a million pounds. Any takers?
2. Have tea in the famous Rose Cottage Tea Gardens
The reason why many people visit Rose Cottage is for their fabulous tea gardens! As well as the cottage being a family home, it’s a thriving business too.
Just behind Rose Cottage is a beautifully landscaped garden that has a river flowing through it, gorgeous topiary, and a small café serving up a classic Devonshire cream tea.
Unfortunately, when we visited it was closed for the winter. But, my mum and dad have had tea there before and absolutely loved it!
You can sit inside or outside in the Rose Cottage tea gardens and munch on a scone with lashings of jam and cream. Sip some English breakfast tea and watch the world pass by.
It’s currently on the market, however, so let’s hope that someone snaps up this amazing property and keeps the tea bizz going this summer!
3. Admire the Mill Cottage
Another notable property in Cockington Village is the Mill Cottage where you can see their magnificent water wheel!
It dates back to the late 19th century and it is a water-powered mill that used to mill corn for the village.
Today it has been loving restored by its current owners and transformed into a quaint Bed & Breakfast! So, you can stay here for the night if you like. Click here for more details and how to book.
You can have a peek at the waterwheel from below, but by far the best views you can get of this cottage are up the stairs.
Here, you get a great view of the waterwheel in action and you can visit the small pond too.
4. Have tea in the adorable Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe
Another cottage that is worth checking out is the Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe. This vintage tea rooms will transport you back in time!
If the weather is cold, they have indoor seating. But, on a lovely day, you can enjoy sipping your tea in their pretty courtyard out the back.
Inside they serve up traditional cream teas or you can indulge in one of their homemade cakes!
This is another cottage that is painted in rosy pink with exposed beams and a Thatched Roof.
The Weavers Cottage also has a small ice cream parlour called ‘Weavers’ (located near the Visitor Centre side) where you can sample some of their locally made ice creams or take your afternoon tea away!
The Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe is open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Bank Holidays
5. Visit Cockington Court for a fun & artsy day out
Although Cockington Court has a history since the 15th century as a medieval court and ancestral home to the Cary family. Then later a manor home to the Mallock family.
In recent years Cockington Court has become extremely popular as it is full of amazing, fun, artsy, and creative things to do for the whole family. It’s also FREE to visit.
Throughout the year this amazing place had a colourful events programme and you can visit many crafts workshops too.
There are sculpture trails, theatrical performances, art workshops, and over 20 independent businesses here too.
Make sure you visit both the Sea Change and Stable Yard Studios to see what’s going on.
You can also pop inside the Cockington Court Manor House that dates back to the Domesday books and have some lunch in their Seven Dials café.
Cockington Court is FREE to visit and is open from 10 am – 4.30 pm daily
6. Explore Cockington Court Rose Garden & Walled Garden
Did you know that Cockington Court is also home to a magnificent Tudor Rose Garden here?
In the spring and summer I bet this would look and smell amazing! It was still lovely to see in winter, but it didn’t have any of the roses out yet which was a shame.
Another exciting project to check out is the Walled Garden that has been created as part of The Feijoa Project. This project supports vulnerable adults who have learning disabilities.
In fact, the project takes its name from a Feijoa tree that grows in the garden to symbolise personal growth.
Both gardens are well worth checking out while you’re here and it’s a fantastic thing to do if the sun is shining and the plants are in full bloom.
It’s completely FREE to visit the Cockington Court Gardens. Opening times are 10 am – 4.30 pm daily
7. Take a stroll inside Cockington Country Park
A walk inside Cockington Country park is popular with families, couples, dog walkers, and solo trekkers for its scenic views and peaceful landscape.
But, it also attracts a lot of people as it’s part of the UNESCO English Riviera Global Geopark.
The English Riviera is ‘One of Earth’s Extraordinary Places’ and has a huge geological interest. It’s part of the Earth’s story and has a history dating back to where ‘time’ began.
Torbay was largely untouched by glaciation in the pre-historic era and so, over the years, there is uncovered evidence that three types of early humans, woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and cave bears roamed the area!
Cockington Court is a gateway to exploring this incredible era, so have fun exploring the park and see what ancient plants and trees you can find!
8. Step inside Cockington Church (St George and St Mary’s Church)
Another amazing find on the grounds near Cockington Court is the medieval Cockington Church or the Parish Church of St George and St Mary’s.
The tower on top of the church dates all the way back to the 13th century, while the main body is from the 15th century!
Unfortunately, the church was bombed twice during World War II and suffered significant damage but has since been restored.
The outside of the church is really pretty but inside, you can find some unexpected treasures too.
Highlights include a Caen stone font from 1485 that was used by the Cary family and the Cockington Church pulpit that dates back to the 16th century, made with wood from a ship used in the Spanish Armada.
It’s really unique and beautiful inside with amazing carvings and stained glass windows.
9. Have some lunch at The Drum Inn
The Drum Inn is famous in these parts for many reasons. Not only was it the excavation site of the original Saxon Village but it was also a restored building by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1936.
He was a world-famous architect and was a big advocate of the arts and crafts restoration movement.
This grade II listed thatched inn was built by Lutyens to be a focal point for the village and has a lot of rustic charm and character to enjoy while you’re inside.
In winter they will have a roaring fire and you can enjoy a local ale outside in their beer garden too if the weather is fine.
The Drum Inn has a traditional and seasonal menu with a fully stocked bar. Click here to check it out!
Table bookings are recommended here. Open from 11am – 10.30pm
10. Check out the old Cockington Forge
Cockington Forge is one of the most photographed locations in Cockington Village along with Rose Cottage. According to them, it’s also one of the most photographed locations in Britain too!
This building was mentioned as far back as the Domesday Book in 1086 and the thatched roof style has not changed much since the 1300s!
It was used by the Davey family in the 15th century who also later lived inside Rose Cottage.
Although it no longer is used as a Blacksmith forge, they still open as a shop that manufactures their miniature horseshoes or ‘Horse-brasses’ to take home. But, they also sell lots of pewter, stonework, and cast Iron gifts too.
Unfortunately, on my visit, it was closed. It’s open from Easter to Winter. So, make sure you check the timings here.
11. Buy souvenirs in The Old Granary Gift Shop
Opposite the Forge, you can visit the Old Granary which is now a Giftshop. As the name would suggest, the Old Granary used to be an old granary storehouse for the Mill which was nearby.
It’s a very quaint thatched cottage that sits in the central junction of the village and you can pop in and buy some of their beautiful gifts and souvenirs to take home.
So, I would pop in here for many postcards, magnets, and local handicrafts you’d like to buy to remember your visit.
Above the adorable thatched Granary Cottage is an apartment where you can stay the night.
12. Admire more Cockington Cottages with unique thatched work
It seemed like the whole of Cockington Village was filled with unique cottages and houses around the area. All looking like they had been here for centuries!
It looked as pretty as a postcard and I couldn’t get enough of photographing the whole area.
Some had gorgeous gardens with the first signs of spring and daffodils growing. Others were painted in all different colours with old upholstery work and the ’S’ brackets on the side.
They all looked beautiful and I was very envious of the people who got to call them home for the night.
Make sure while you’re wandering around to look up. Instead of scarecrows on the roof, they had unique thatch work with animals like foxes and birds on the roof!
13. Take a Horse and Carriage ride in Cockington
A bucket list item in Devon is to take a horse and carriage ride in Cockington Village.
Cockington has been providing these rides for years to many happy customers with their Shire Horses.
K & H Cockington Carriages run their services in the peak season from Cockington Court and you can enjoy a lovely carriage ride through the Country Park, past the manor house, and in the village itself!
They are strictly weather permitting and they advise you to book way in advance if you plan to ride. Click here for more details.
14. Find hidden gems and stunning laneways
Wherever you turn in Cockington, there are amazing things to find around every corner.
From babbling brooks and quaint bridges, walking paths in the countryside, gorgeous laneways, and even red telephone boxes!
I could have spent hours getting lost in this chocolate box village in the Devonshire countryside.
There is just so much to find and things to do in Cockington Village that you will need to leave a lot of time to explore.
So, have fun exploring the fairytale that is Cockington. No two visits are the same and you never know what you’re going to find.
Where to stay in Cockington Village
The great thing about visiting Cockington is that you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to!
If you’d not stay in the busy seafront areas, Cockington Village is the perfect countryside retreat.
Cockington Bed & Breakfast – stay in a Holiday Cottage in Cockington!
As you can see in my post, it seems that nearly every cottage here is available to rent or has apartments you can stay in!
It’s basically a dream and you can pretend that you own the cottage for a few days. Here are the holiday homes you can rent in Cockington Village;
Cary Arms & Spa
If you did fancy staying near the seaside (it is Devon after all), there are plenty of places to choose from!
A unique property perched on Babbacombe bay is the Cary Arms & Spa that has luxury rooms and suites to stay in.
I stayed in one of their fantastic beach suites right on the bay. I don’t think we could have been closer to the sea if we tried!
Our beach suite had three rooms; a lounge, double bedroom, and walk-in bathroom.
We had underfloor heating, a TV with Netflix, faux fireplace, two cosy beds, and a bathtub AND shower!
I was completely blown away by this wonderful property by the sea and if it was warmer would have loved to lounge on our private deckchairs overlooking the sea.
It was absolutely wonderful, click here for more information and how to book!
Things to do around Cockington Village
Once you’ve ticked off all these things to do in Cockington Village there is plenty to do in the local area of Torquay and Babbacombe.
You can delve into more history, the seaside, and even prehistoric wonders!
Torre Abbey has existed on this site in Torquay since 1196 and for many years was a place of worship for the Premonstratensian Canons. It’s one of the best-preserved abbeys in Devon and Cornwall.
It was later home to the Cary family for centuries and they housed over 300 Spanish prisoners off war in their Barn onsite during the Spanish Armada.
The Cary family were known Catholics despite it being illegal after King Henry VIII became the head of the Church of England. So, the family had their own private chapel inside where they would perform Catholic sermons.
There’s is lots more history to uncover inside and they have a fantastic display of interactive exhibitions which brings the place to life.
For Agatha Christie fans this is part of the Mystery Mile and in their gardens, you can check out some of their potent plants. Can you figure out what poisonous plants belong to what novels?
Torre Abbey is open daily, click here for more details
If you’re looking to head back to the seaside, the closest place is Livermead. It’s not too far off the Grand Hotel in Torquay and provides a fantastic area to take in some sea air.
There is a small sandy area that is available at low tide.
Another part of the UNESCO English Riviera Global Geopark is Kents Cavern. This massive cave system tell a huge story that spans back to prehistoric periods!
It is also known as Britain’s oldest home as there is evidence of cave dwellers found in here over 36,000 years ago.
The first recorded excavations of the caves took place in 1824. But, the most famous was led by Edward Vivian and William Pengelly in 1846. It took a course of over 15 years to fully investigate the caves.
As well as removing over 8 tonnes of cave waste, thanks to their cute donkey Topsy, they also uncovered a labyrinth of caves underground. It was here they also uncovered Stalagmites over half a million years old and bone fragments from prehistoric humans and animals too.
It opened as a tourist attraction in 1903 and today, thankfully, we don’t have to go diving or digging to see what is inside.
It’s an entertaining guided tour through the caves and you can learn about the history, the minerals and some of the findings too.
For Agatha Christie fans these caves inspired “Hampsley Cavern” in The Man in the Brown Suit.
A visit to Kents Cavern is by guided tour. check the website for tour times and prices
Babbacombe Cliff Lift
A great way to get close to the coves around Torquay is to take one of the vintage funiculars down to them.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway has been a popular way to access Oddicombe beach since 1926 and is still running today.
Despite fears of closure from the local council, the community decided to restore and run it as a charity trust. So, all proceeds go towards this amazing railway.
As you take the funicular down to the bay, you’ll get some of the best views of the English Riviera.
We were lucky to catch it on a blue sky day so the sea was a beautiful shade of turquoise.
Then you can explore Oddicombe Bay which looks red from the sandstone cliffs surrounding it. Or, stop for coffee at Three Degrees West and enjoy the views! Click here to read my post all about it.
The Cliff Railway runs from 9 am – 4.45 am and costs £2.90 an adult for a return. A bell is run before the last carriage of the day. If you miss it don’t worry, but it’s a steep walk to the top!