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Map of Area - Local Towns | Tavistock | Post Bridge | Okehampton | Widecombe | Buckfastleigh |
Map ref SX7466
Set on the southern edge of the Dartmoor National Park surrounded by woods and meadows, the quiet town of Buckfastleigh is best known for the nearby Buckfast Abbey and the South Devon Valley Railway. The steam railway follows the old Ashburton line, along the river Dart through Staverton to Totnes, some 7 miles (11km) away.
The station in Buckfastleigh is adjacent to the Buckfast Butterfly Farm and the Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary. The Butterfly Farm is a large tropical hot house, where the butterflies fly around in a semi-natural environment.
In the town's churchyard are the ruins of an old 'chantry' chapel and the strange mausoleum erected over the tomb of Richard Carbell in 1677 to contain his 'unquiet spirit'. Richard Carbell was believed by the local population to be in league with the Devil. The local stories of black dogs howling and breathing fire around his tomb are believed to inspired Conan Doyle when he was researching his novel 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.
Map ref. SX7467
A community of monks was established at Buckfast before the Norman Conquest. There is a gap in their presence from 1539 (when the buildings were abandoned due to the dissolution of the Monasteries) until 1882, when a group of French monks discovered the sight and established a small community.
The present building was started in 1907 and was completed in 1937 by just six monks, only one of whom had any prior experience of masonry work - making the Abbey with its mix of early English and French styles a wonder of the 20th century.
Not all of the Abbey was completely rebuilt as the restored medieval north and south gates survived the centuries of abandonment and decay.
Today the Abbey is financially self-supporting through the various activities of the monks. The Abbey produces works of art in pottery, stained glass and carving. Over 150 churches have had windows designed and made for them by the monks of Buckfast Abbey.
The Abbey is also famous for producing Benedictine honey from hives of the disease resistant Buckfast bee. The bees are hived in a special station in the centre of Dartmoor; keeping them away from other bee populations.
Buckfast Abbey's most famous product is the Buckfast Tonic Wine, made from a secret formula and sold throughout the Country. The Abbey is open to visitors, though the monastic quarters are of course closed at all times.
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