A religious order of White Friars was established on flat ground close to the sea many years before anything else in the area existed with the possible exception of a small collection of fishermens' hovels close to where the current harbour is.
This monastery of White friars grew to become particularly wealthy and was one of the richest in the whole of England. Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries meant that its wealth was stripped and the community expelled and scattered.
A short time after that, the Cary family took up residence and it became their main home. This family along with others such as the Palks were mainly responsible for the development of the Torquay that we see today particularly the legacy of fabulous Victorian villas.
By 1930's the family had run out of money and they were forced out of Torre Abbey and so it became a museum and home to our municipal art collection.