Today we visited the Singer family home, Oldway Mansion, on Torquay Road in Paignton, just a short trip down the road from Melba House.
Isaac Singer is the Victorian inventor of the Singer sewing machines. The Singer name is dotted all over the Torbay area, where he left a big legacy. Singer came to the UK from America and had quite a reputation for being a womaniser. He had apparently fathered up to 18 kids with four different women by the time he died. He was definitely a very interesting man – an inventor and an artist who loved acting. He ran away from home at 12 years old and joined a traveling acting company. He was the son of a German immigrant family, with the surname was Reisinger, which he changed to Singer. By the time he died in Torquay in 1875, he had amassed a small fortune.
Oldway Mansion is a beautiful Grade II listed building, that, unfortunately, Singer never got to live in, as he died before its completion. The grounds are lovely and quite large, considering it’s in the middle of the town. Considering our mild climate in Devon, the gardens are home to many sub-tropical plants, as well as winding paths, formal flower beds, lawns and ponds.
The house is not visible from the road, so when you drive into the entrance it’s quite a shock to the system to see this imposing and magnificent old building come into view. What makes it even more interesting is that it is totally abandoned, with just a weekly tour going through the house. Inside the house are remnants of a grander time, with ornate staircases, murals and marble features setting the scene. The house is maintained by a local crowd of volunteers. They have a tearoom on the premises, with an array of delicious, fresh cakes on offer. It makes for a fascinating morning outing and is easily accessible by bus. There is plenty of parking for cars on the property too.