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HER Number:MDV9674
Name:Spanish Barn at Torre Abbey


Medieval monastic tithe barn. It is called the Spanish Barn as it was used to house the crew of a Spanish ship captured by Drake during the Armada, in 1588.


Grid Reference:SX 907 637
Map Sheet:SX96SW
Admin AreaTorbay
Ecclesiastical ParishTORBAY
Ecclesiastical ParishTORMOHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX96SW/1/2
  • Old SAM County Ref: 171
  • Old SAM Ref: 24840
  • Tide Project: 24/07/2020
  • Torbay HER: MTO9674

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TITHE BARN (Built, XIII to XV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1500 AD (Between))

Full description

Watkin, H. R., 1915 - 1920, Norse standards of measurements, 329-330 (Article in Serial). SDV339046.

Sheldon, L., 1932, Devon Barns, 395, Pl.19, Fig. 12 (Article in Serial). SDV116684.

Described as large and imposing. The side facing the abbey has been much altered with pointed windows inserted, the other side is supported by buttresses with slit windows in between. The roof is slated but was possibly originally thatched. The centrally placed porch has a plain, round-headed doorway. The interior is currently divided into two stories but this division is to be removed by the Office of Works who are [at the time of writing] carrying out repairs to the Abbey.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX96SW10 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV316282.

Site visit: 8th November 1952. A fine example of a 13th century monastic barn in a perfect state of preservation. It is heavily buttressed and strongly constructed of limestone with sandstone quoining.
Other details: Photograph

Department of Environment, 1975, Borough of Torbay, 152 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV362418.

Probably 13th century. 124 feet long.

Timms, S., 1981, Spanish Barn (Personal Comment). SDV363763.

The barn is owned and maintained by the Borough Council and used for public functions. The roof timbers have been restored.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 854 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Medieval barn to south-west of gatehouse. Possibly 13th century. Restored slit windows and reconstructed roof. Called the Spanish barn because an Armada crew were imprisoned here. Later used as a coach house and stables.

Rhodes, M., 1990, Torre Abbey, Torquay: Conservation Plan (Un-published). SDV362348.

Conservation plan written to be part of an HLF submission.

Gibbons, 1993, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset, 134670 (Un-published). SDV363762.

Some 23 metres to the south-west of the gatehouse stands the monastic (Spanish) barn, a complete, free-standing structure of the 13th century. 38 metres by 11.6 metres overall, with external porches in the centres of its longest sides, and buttressed all round. The roof is of late-15th-early 16th century date. The windows have been enlarged and in about 1930 it was re-floored.
Excavations to the west of the barn located the foundations of a substantial building adjacent to the road.

Department of National Heritage, 1994, Schedule Monument Consent Letter (Correspondence). SDV362666.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for works concerning the strengthening of a structural beam in a Georgian extension to the rear of Torre Abbey.

Ordnance Survey, 2020, MasterMap 2020 (Cartographic). SDV363413.

Barn marked.

Historic England, 2020, National Heritage List for England, 1280012 (National Heritage List for England). SDV363414.

The Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey. Monastic barn. Date uncertain. Masonry could be as early as C13. Present roof construction appears to be largely late C15,although thoroughly repaired in the 1930s, but may be a replacement of an earlier roof.
Plan: 16 bays with opposed porches inthe centre bay.
Exterior: Impressively large with 10 buttresses with batters to each side and 3 at each end, the centre buttresses at each end taller.
Interior: 1930s black and red clay tile floor includes inscription dating the barn to the C12 and recording that it was used to house prisoners in 1588 when the Nuestra Senoradel Rosano, one of the vessels of the Spanish Armada and the flagship of the Andalusian Squadron was captured by Drake and brought ashore. Possibly the earliest surviving barn in Devon.
Date first listed: 20th November 1952
Date of most recent amendment: 3rd May 1994
See listing description for full details

Watts, S., 2023, The Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey (Ground Photograph). SDV365860.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV116684Article in Serial: Sheldon, L.. 1932. Devon Barns. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 395, Pl.19, Fig. 12.
SDV316282Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX96SW10. OSAD Card. Card Index.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 854.
SDV339046Article in Serial: Watkin, H. R.. 1915 - 1920. Norse standards of measurements. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 2. Unknown. 329-330.
SDV362348Un-published: Rhodes, M.. 1990. Torre Abbey, Torquay: Conservation Plan. .
SDV362418List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1975. Borough of Torbay. Historic Houses Register. 152.
SDV362666Correspondence: Department of National Heritage. 1994. Schedule Monument Consent Letter. Schedule Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV363413Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap 2020. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #126628 ]
SDV363414National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2020. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1280012.
SDV363762Un-published: Gibbons. 1993. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset. Unknown. 134670.
SDV363763Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1981. Spanish Barn. Not Applicable.
SDV365860Ground Photograph: Watts, S.. 2023. The Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey. Digital.
Linked images:3

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7908 - Conservation plan for Torre Abbey

Date Last Edited:Feb 8 2024 5:45PM