We went to Torquay Museum with the specific intention of seeing the reconstruction of Charles Laycock’s 1860s Devon farmhouse to get a sense of what our house would have looked like in the past. The reconstructions of the front kitchen and back kitchen gave us a real feel for what the house would have looked like – we have a tiny door to the left of the Aga in the kitchen (where there would have been an open fire in the past) which conceals wooden stairs that twist up to the bedchamber above. We also still have one of the iron ratchet pot hangers that would have suspended cooking pots over the fire in what we now call the snug, but was once the front kitchen (posh kitchen used mainly on Sundays).
See our page on the history of Halsbeer Farm to see more images of the farmhouse gallery. The farmhouse and its memorabilia and displays fill most of the top floor of the museum, but there is a lot more of interest to discover in this museum for adults and children alike.
Above the main staircase is an astonishing replica of a Japanese kite, large enough to hold a man in order to spy behind enemy lines. I’d never seen anything like it before!
There is a floor about local geology, fauna and flora, a room about Agatha Christie, but most fascinating to the children (well and me if I’m honest) was the museum’s flagship gallery about explorers. Who knew that so many intrepid daring-doers came from Torquay? Certainly not me. I was so engrossed by the myriad objects on display I forgot to take many photos.
Felix had learnt about explorer Lt Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett from a book when he was studying rainforests at school – Percy disappeared in the Amazon jungle never to be seen again and feared eaten by cannibals! He was reputedly the inspiration for Indiana Jones. The gallery also highlights adventurers who went to Fiji, China and India and the Antarctic and is home to Devon’s only Egyptian mummy – a four year old child and lots of other Egyptian artefacts. The children were kept entertained by a lego trail around the room which pointed you towards numbers that opened the combination lock on a safe in the wall to reveal treasure and a certificate to take home.
Halfway down the stairs on the way out we took a diversion into a small gallery with a temporary exhibition about the Ipplepen hoard of Roman coins discovered near to Torquay in 2015 along with numerous Roman skeletons. Felix was delighted to try on a suit of Roman armour that fitted so well it could have been made for him!
We finished our visit to Torquay with a somewhat blustery walk around the marina. There are no shortage of shops selling ice-cream and fudge! We were intrigued by the netted structure shown in the back of the image below – we think it must be the aviary at Torquay’s Living Coasts exhibit. Another one for the ‘to visit’ list!