During the 1800s, many literary figures based themselves in Torquay. One of our most famous visitors was the Victorian clergyman, naturalist and author Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), who stayed in the region for some time.

“No wonder that such a spot as Torquay, with its delicious Italian climate, and endless variety of rich woodland, flowery lawn, fantastic rock-cavern, and broad bright tide-sand, sheltered from every wind of heaven except the soft south-east, should have become a favourite haunt, not only for invalids, but for naturalists. Indeed, it may well claim the honour of being the original home of marine zoology and botany in England…” He came to Torquay in 1854 while his wife recovered from the ill-effects of living in their damp Rectory home at Eversley. In Torquay, Charles threw himself into prospecting on the foreshore, the cliffs, and in caves for specimens of marine life. He saw the natural world as the handiwork of God, and was to welcome Darwin’s theory of evolution with an enthusiasm which was unusual for clergymen of the time.

From his Torquay coastal explorations came a series of articles in the North British Review, subsequently published as Glaucus: or Wonders of the Sea Shore, which he illustrated himself.

A Blue Plaque was unveiled on the 12th December 2012 to honour the Rev Charles Kingsley at Coombe Court Guest House, Babbacombe Downs Road, Torquay where he resided with his wife in 1854 as a guest of Reverend William Grey. To view the gallery of this event please click here.

Coombe Court was called Marystowe House and he made the journey up to Babbacombe after his stay at Livermead House in Torquay. Charles Kingsley was born 1819 in Holne, Dartmoor in Devon, Charles was born into a religious family with his father being a vicar.

Charles spent his childhood in Clovelly, Devon, and was later educated in Magdalene College Cambridge. After graduating in 1842 he was ordained an Anglican priest. In the same year he became rector of Eversley. More On Charles Kingsley >>>

Coombe Court Babbacombe Torquay
The Blue Plaque unveiled to Charles Kingsley at Coombe Court Hotel Babbacombe Torquay