Oldway MansionPaignton
Torquay Road
Paignton
Devon TQ3 2TD

 
 
 
Just half a mile (1.6 km) from the centre of Paignton in Devon is a beautiful mansion set in 17 acres of formally landscaped gardens. Oldway Mansion was once the family home of Isaac Merritt Singer of Singer Sewing Machine Company fame.
 
Issac Merritt Singer
I M Singer was an American entrepreneur and inventor whose personal life led to him being shunned from high society in America.  His penchant for the ladies led him to being charged with bigamy so he moved with his current family to France.  Forced by the Franco-Prussian War to flee France, they went to England, finally settling in Paignton in 1871.   By the time I M Singer died in 1875 he had 22 living children, various wives, both legal and common law.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Agoda here:     External Link
 
The Mansion Exterior
Singer’s third son, Paris, was responsible for the appearance of the current Oldway Mansion.  From 1904 Singer’s house was remodelled in the style of the ‘Palace of Versailles’ and the eastern elevation was inspired by the ‘Place de la Concorde’ in Paris.
 
Grand Interior
The visitor will be astonished by the grand interiors of the house.  The entrance hall of marble, gilded pillars is dominated by a marble and bronze staircase.  The ceiling above the staircase is based on an original design for the Palace of Versailles by the French painter Joseph Lebrun. The painter, Carl Rosner, studied the original before replicating it in Oldway.
 
On the wall beside the staircase is a large painting entitled The Crowning of Josephine by Napoleon.  The original painting by Jacques Louis David hung here until it was sold to the French Government in 1946.  It now hangs in the Palace of Versailles.  Remarkably, the present replica painting is a colour print.
 
The staircase leads up to the first floor gallery and ballroom.  The gallery is a reproduction of the Versailles Hall of Mirrors with a parquet floor.  Leading from the gallery is the sprung parquet floored ballroom, which contains walls of gilt panelling and mirrors. Above the fireplace there is an oil painting of Louis of Bourbon dating from 1717.
 
Italian Themed Gardens
Paris Singer spared no expense.  The gardens were laid out on an Italian theme by the French landscape gardener Achille Duchesne.  Beneath the eastern elevation of the building is the Maze Garden.  Dwarf box hedges border intricately shaped flower beds, complemented by topiary.
 
To the south of the mansion there is the Grotto Garden where a waterfall passes over a rocky cave into a pool below. The grounds of the mansion contain many sub-tropical plants and shrubs, a bowling green and tennis courts.
 
The Rotunda
Coming up the sweeping drive the visitor will see a large round building to the right of the Mansion.  This is The Rotunda which was built in 1873 as a riding pavilion and exercise area.  It had a removable wooden floor which was taken up in order to ride the horses.
 
Paris Singer
Paris Singer had a well publicized affair with the famous dancer Isadora Duncan which ended in 1917.  He left England in 1918 and moved to America where he took up citizenship.  It was not just a broken heart that precipitated the move but better tax arrangements.
 
War Service
Oldway Mansion served during two World Wars.  In 1914 it was a hospital run by the the American Woman’s War Relief Fund for wounded soldiers being brought back to England from the trenches of France and Belgium.  In 1940 Oldway was used as a training wing for RAF Cadets learning to be aircrew.
 
Small Museum containing exhibits linked to Building's History
In 1946 the Singer Family sold the mansion and grounds to the Torbay Borough Council.  It is now used as the Council Chambers, a Civil wedding venue. It is open to the public and is a very popular tourist attraction.  There is a small museum containing exhibits linked to the building’s history, including antique Singer Sewing machines.
 
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Lastminute.com here:    External Link
 
 
Opening Dates and Times
All year                                 Mon – Sat      09:00 to 17:00
During the summer only,         Sundays       14:00 to 17:00
 
Admission Cost
Free
 
Facilities
Café
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1803 207 933
Website   Oldway Mansion    External Link
 
Getting There
- By Car
Nearest major road is A3022. Follow directions signs for Torbay and the English Riviera. When in Torbay follow signs for PaigntonOldway Mansion is on the Torquay (A3022) to Paignton road, about .5 mile (.8 km) from Paignton town centre and just past Manor Road going toward Paignton. There are 60 free car parking spaces.
 
- By Train
The nearest rail station is Paignton Station in the centre of Paignton.
Oldway Mansion is an approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) walk along the A3022 road in the direction of Torquay.
 
- By Bus
From Paignton Bus Station opposite the rail station, Stagecoach buses Nos.120, 121, and 122 run to and from Torquay.  Ask the bus driver to drop you off at Oldway Mansion.
 
Stagecoach Devon Tel: +44 (0)1803 664 500     Web: Stagecoach Bus    External Link
 
- Other Services
Paignton is serviced from further South West by:
 
Plymouth Citybus   Tel: +44 (0)1752 222 221     Web: Plymouth City Bus    External Link
Google Maps - Oldway Mansion