Welcome to the Tavistock Museum website

We are a town and community museum situated at the historic Court Gate in the centre of Tavistock.
Our exhibitions and stories will fascinate the whole family!

Stone head from Tavistock Abbey on display at Tavistock Museum

There’s plenty to discover at Tavistock Museum!

  • Explore the history of Tavistock’s once magnificent Medieval Abbey.
  • Find out why local hero Sir Francis Drake is now such a controversial figure.
  • Discover how the town lost its two railway stations.
  • Learn how the Tamar Valley and Tavistock came to form part of the Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.
Bedford Cottages DVD cover
Tavistock Museum has a wide range of books and DVDs available for you to buy online.
Volunteers at Tavistock Museum
Tavistock Museum is run by a charitable trust and staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers. Find out how you could get involved!

What's Happening?

New Exhibits for 2022!

Following our temporary closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tavistock Museum looks forward to reopening in April 2022.  We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the museum and have three new exhibits for you to discover.

Tavistock Toll Houses and Turnpikes

 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, travellers often faced tolls when using certain roads. These roads – or “turnpikes” – had to be maintained and so local groups, known as “Turnpike Trusts,” were created to ensure the collection of fees.  Many Turnpike Trusts built toll houses, in order to provide accommodation for the toll collectors working on these roads.  Although many toll houses were demolished when the turnpikes closed in the 1880s, several hundred survive across the UK today.

Our new exhibit explores Tavistock’s own turnpikes and toll houses.

Tollhouse in Tavistock
Littlecourt, house designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Sir Edwin Lutyens 1869-1944 – His Work in Tavistock and Beyond

Sir Edwin Lutyens was a highly respected architect, famed for his ability to adapt traditional architectural styles.  After beginning his own practice in the late 19th century, Lutyens played a key role in designing and building New Delhi, and was responsible for many famous buildings and monuments here in the UK, including the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall, and Devon’s own Castle Drogo.  But did you know he also designed a gentleman’s residence right here in Tavistock?

Find out more in our new exhibit!

Mark Merritt’s Men – Early Victorian Policing in Tavistock

In 1837 Mark Merritt was one of two police constables from the London Metropolitan Police who came to Tavistock at the request of the Bedford Office to initiate a harder-line of policing and train the unpaid parish constables.  The ‘London Police’ presence in the town was considered to have been a success and Mark agreed to become the chief-of-police in Tavistock; a post he held for the next twenty years.
 
Recently his police truncheon, which he used on several occasions to defend himself, was donated to our museum.
 
Our new exhibit explains why Mark Merritt’s true story would not be out of place in a Victorian police drama!  
 
 
Police lamp outside Tavistock police station

How To Find Us

The front entrance to the museum is in Guildhall Square.  There is a small, short-term car park in the square and long-term parking options within walking distance.  
Please note we only have disabled access to the ground floor welcome area, audio-visual room and museum shop.  The two main galleries are on the first floor of the building and accessible only by stairs.

Opening Times

11am – 3pm
Monday – Saturday from April 1st to October 31st.
All other times by prior arrangement only.   

We welcome school visits – please contact us to arrange your trip!

Map showing how to find Tavistock Museum

Tavistock Museum, Court Gate, Guildhall Square, Tavistock, PL19 0AE

 Visitors are kindly requested to make a donation towards our running costs in lieu of an admission fee.

Museum Mission Statement

The purpose of the museum is to provide all the people of Tavistock and its locality, as well as visitors to the area, with the best possible facility celebrating the town’s history and all the traditions of the local way of life down the centuries.