Torquay: King’s Gardens – Opened 1904 (Visited 14.4.2019)


Devon Gardens Trust: Kings & Abbey Gardens & Torre Abbey

‘King’s Drive, named after Edward VII, dates from 1877 when the Local Board made the road to replace Rotten Row.  Changes in levels in an area considered to have once been an estuary, resulted in a small park, dominated by two lakes fed by a spring rising in the Sherwell Valley.  The park was opened by the Mayor on 19 April 1904 but, the next month, the name was changed from Alexandra Gardens to The King’s Gardens.’


The Family ‘Cluster’ Gathers…

My parents have lived near the Torquay seafront since April, 2002. The beautiful Cockington Meadow is nearby, as is the equally impressive Torre Abbey (the restaurant of which recently tarnished its reputation through its staff asking a Carer to ‘remove’ a wheelchair-bound physically and cognitively disabled person, as their presence was ‘offending’ the other customers). Local ignorance aside, the seafront of Torquay possesses a colourful and often ancient history that is disabled-friendly for the most part, and good for children to visit. Torre Abbey, for example, whilst practising a ‘zero tolerance’ policy toward people with disabilities paying for food and drink in its restaurant, also operates a convenient lift in the Abbey itself to assist the same disabled people to safely traverse the numerous floors. This accessibility even extends to the interior where special ramps have been installed for wheelchairs to travel up or down small flights of stairs. I have even heard of very helpful staff on the front desk opening seldom used side-gates to allow wheelchair users an easier access, ect, but I digress. King’s Gardens appears to have been the result of slum clearing in Torquay with a place called ‘Rotton Row’ being demolished for new houses (King’s Drive) in 1877. We only hope that the people once living in ‘Rotton Row’ were re-housed and not left homeless (as happens far too often today). Originally called ‘Alexandra Gardens’, it was re-named just after opening in 1904 as ‘King’s Gardens’ after Edward VII. When driving into Torquay on numerous of our visits from London, we have often seen free-roaming swans on a patch of ornate and picturesque landscape to the right of Abbey Grounds (separated by a small road). We finally got round to visiting this area yesterday – despite the howling wind and freezing rain! We did try to ‘walk’ from the house to this area, but the waves were coming over the wall and we had to retreat to the safety of the car and slowly drive through the storm of rain and sea-spray… The children – who are strong-willed and usually wanting to press-on – decided that a tactical retreat to the relative safety of the car was in order!



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KIng’s Gardens – Overside of this Road


Car in Background – An Old Drain Taking Water to the Sea

Probably the Edge of Abbey Grounds
King’s Gardens – No Obvious Signage – Wooden Shelter in Background
Children Feeding the Beautiful Birds
One of a Pair of Breeding Swans – I got Very Close Before a ‘Hiss’…
Main Lake – with Fountain…
The Family Attract Seagals, Pigeons and Ducks!
Nearing the Wooden Bridge..
The Other Swan Sat on a Nest – Quite Indifferent


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Wooden Bridge Separates Two Sides of the Lake
Picturesque Bridge – Beautiful


You Shall Not Pass! – Gee Protects the Bridge!

Over the Bridge the Lake Begins to Narrow
Narrow Paths and Ample Seating
The Flow of Water Begins to ‘Narrow’
The Otherside of the Wooden Bridge – the Lake Starts to Disappear..
The Two Lakes Begin – Fed by a Spring Rising from the Sherwell Valley.
Typical Brickwork Along the Banks…


Incredibly Tame and Gentle Swans – a Mating Pair


 Another Mating Pair and Offspring…


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