Tavistock on the western edge of Dartmoor sits on the River Tavy and is a prosperous market town with a population of around 11,000.
The town has some fine buildings dating from its heydays in the late nineteenth century. Tavistock's places of interest include the ruins of its once massive abbey destroyed by Henry VIII and the Tavistock Museum (Tel: 01822 612 546), which displays surviving items from the abbey and exhibits from Tavistock's brief boom period in the mid-nineteenth century as a copper mining town.
Tavistock's Pannier Market received its charter in the 12th century and is still going strong. Now Pannier Market is housed in a 19th century covered market building built by the Duke of Bedford, who's family has owned most of the town from the 16th until the early 20th century. The main market day is Friday with more specialized craft and antique markets held on other days. Tavistock Goose Fair (Goosey Fair), dates fom 1116 is Tavistock's biggest event and takes place on the second Wednesday of October. Tavistock Farmers Market is held in Bedford Square on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, from 9am to 1pm.
Tavistock's history is bound up with the fortunes of the Russell family, who as the Dukes of Bedford and Marquesses of Tavistock were the main beneficiaries of Henry VIII's dissolution of Tavistock Abbey in the 16th century. Russell Square and Tavistock Squares in London owe their names to the Russell family's holdings in the capital. The present Duke of Bedford has a personal fortune estimated at £490m.
Tavistock's most famous son is Sir Francis Drake (1540-95), ruthless privateer, adventurer and the first Englishman to sail round the world.
Tavistock is on the A386 road to Plymouth. There are frequent buses to Plymouth, and less regular services to Okehampton and Princetown. There is no longer a railway station in Tavistock.
Tavistock Tourist Office
Tel: 01822 612 938
Tel: 01822 612 546
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