With a history stretching back 900 years, Hartland Abbey is the oldest building of its kind still standing in Britain, and is now the family home of Sir Hugh Stucley, his wife, children, grandchildren and their dogs – who, between the warmer end of March through until October, welcome people and their own pooches to come and see their beautiful country house and gardens.
Built in 12th Century as a monastery, in 1539 Henry VIII gifted Hartland Abbey to the keeper of his Wine Cellar, an ancestor of the Stucley family who still call it home. The abbey is arguably the most historically important ancestral home in North Devon, boasting all sorts of interest features, including architecture and decoration from the Mediaeval, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods.
Dogs will enjoy exploring the grounds, which include 18th-century walled and woodland gardens. There are plenty of extended walks to enjoy through the parkland too, leading down through the valley towards the beach and glinting Atlantic Ocean. You can also walk past Blackpool Mill Cottage, where Sense and Sensibility was filmed. Kids love meeting the resident donkeys, Nutmeg, Becky and Snowdrop, and spotting the wandering peacocks and an entire flock of black sheep. Special events include outdoor theatre performances.