Tavistock Heritage Festival
Tavistock Heritage Festival
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Welcome to the Tavistock Heritage Festival 2017

Join us for this year’s festival

15th – 17th September 2017

Enjoy stalls, art, literature, workshops & more


Tavistock Heritage Festival is returning for 2017, bringing a range of fantastic events and attractions to the town. The aim of the Tavistock Heritage Festival is to highlight and celebrate Tavistock’s unique history and heritage through a series of different events for people of all ages and interests.

For three days in September the town will be alive it exhibitions, displays, talks, guided walks, concerts, workshops, plays, a heritage craft market and a variety of living history events.

 The festival is the brainchild of Tavistock Rotary Club and has been bought to fruition by a tireless committee made of up local historical, archaeologists, heritage experts, novelists and enthusiasts.

We are grateful for the invaluable support we have received from the local community and businesses. We hope you enjoy the Festival and enjoy your visit to Tavistock.



Tavistock is one of the most interesting and attractive of Devon’s inland towns” Cherry Pevsner; The Buildings of England; Devon 1989

Tavistock began its recorded history a thousand years ago. It was under the shadow of the great Benedictine Abbey, founded in 974 AD, that the town was established where the Fishlake, tumbling down the Billingsbeare Valley, neared its destination – the right bank of the River Tavy. Under the auspices of the Abbey this small community established a market, developed a thriving wool trade, and became a “stannary town”, an administrative centre of the local tin mining industry. With the closing of the monasteries in 1539 all the local properties and rights that had belonged to the Abbey were given by Henry V111 to John Russel, the ancestor of a long line of Earls, later Dukes, of Bedford. This dynasty continued to control the fortunes of the town until 1911, when the eleventh Duke sold the bulk of his Tavistock property. The fingerprint of the Bedford centuries remains, while the imprint of the most distant era of the monks is rather less obvious, but still real.

The chronicler John Prince referred to Tavistock as “that fruitful seed-plot of eminent and famous men”. Among poets, industrialist and politicians, none have made a bolder mark on the national scene than Francis Drake, born here in 1542.

In the nineteenth centre the town grew rapidly, in response to the development of the local mining enterprises. The population increased from 3420 in 1801, to 8912 in 1861, although it fell back thereafter as the copper boom collapsed. The Tavistock Canal built between 1803 and 1817 to link the town to the port of Morwellham, the Georgian and Victoria architecture, the Town Hall, Duke Street shops and the Pannier Market, survive as a reminder of the boom years.

In recent year Tavistock has again experienced growth and its population now exceeds 12000. The town offers a wealth of medieval and Georgian and Victorian architecture boasting some 350 Listed Buildings, inclusive of 5 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, within its designated Conservation Area. In recognition of the importance of the town and its industries of the 18th and 19th centuries Tavistock was inscribed in 2006 as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining landscape World Heritage Site.