In the distant past St Marychurch was once a distinct and separate community from the rest of Torquay. It was generally a poor area reliant on quarrying, fishing and smuggling. Today, it is an appealing district within Torquay albeit with a distinct identity.
From The Muntham Luxury Apartments it can be reached by car or bus in about five minutes or on foot in about twenty minutes and it lies just beyond Babbacombe. At its heart is the pedestrianised Fore Street which combines a lot of charming independent traders with some national names. Rare on a high street these days, you can find a fishmonger selling a variety of fish from the UK as well as some locally caught produce.
Another little gem is the specialist cheese shop which once again has wonderful UK produced cheeses and many examples produced in the south West.
For visitors, access to Babbacombe Model Village can be found in St Marychurch (as well as in Babbacombe) whilst the other major attraction is Bygones. Housed in what was once known as "The Tudor Cinema" this vast collection of things from the past was just made for rainy afternoons. From a re-creation of a Victorian street to the re-creation of a World War 1 trench there is an immense amount to see and enjoy. There is even a full sized steam locomotive form the docks in Plymouth.
Modern visitors to St Marychurch might be surprised to learn that it was the target of German bombing in World War 2. Perhaps the most tragic incident occured on 30th May 1943 when the parish church of St Mary The Virgin was bombed and 21 school children and 3 of their Sunday school teachers were killed. (Click here for more details). The church was not back in action until 1956 and is in fact the fourth incarnation of a Church on the site. There had been a Saxon church originally that was then replaced by a larger Norman church which in turn was destroyed by fire in 1713 and was derelict until rebuilt in 1861. The organ was donated by Isambard Kingdom Brunel the engineer. In the graveyard there is a piece of headstone commemorating Emma Keyse (the victim of John "Babbacombe" Lee ??) and her mother.
in Brunel Woods (named after the engineer Isambard Kingdon Brunel whose house they bordered) and not far from St Marychurch is something quite unexpected. Here visitors can find one of the most extraordinary sites of The English Riviera. For there are some larger than life wood carvings of Brunel and the most astounding totem pole which details the life and works of the engineer.
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