Newest Review: ... a paperweight that was a chunk of rough glass with one smooth side with an amonite etched inside the glass. I paid £24 which was ok. I... more
House of Marbles, Newton Abbot (Easter 2011) Great Lunch, but Disappointing, Expensive Place
House of Marbles (Bovey Tracey)
Member Name: Zurich11
House of Marbles (Bovey Tracey)
Advantages: 'Free' admission . Lovely food (filling & cheaper if canny - see review details)
Disadvantages: Toilets & cafe garden etc not easy if disabled . Very Expensive . A glorified shop with exhibits !
The photo of the stunning looking Colonial-style house that accompanied that particular internet review really clinched the deal. It was a hot, sunny day so we thought it would be lovely to sit in the grounds once we'd visited the indoor attraction.
As per the previous review, yes, the House of Marbles is very easy to find. We put the postcode (TQ13 9DS) into the SatNav and off we went.
For your information, the full address is ........
House of Marbles and Teign Valley Glass
The Old Pottery
Devon TQ13 9DS
Telephone: 01626 835285
It's located in Devon not far from the A38. There are plenty of brown tourist signs if you don't have a SatNav. It's near the Drumbridges roundabout where you'll also find Trago Mills.
We were convinced we had the wrong location when we initially arrived as we found ourselves sitting in a busy tarmac carpark with huge wrought iron gates around it, and looking up at a red brick factory!
What a huge disappointment! But hey ho! "them's the breaks" We went in, still determined to enjoy ourselves.
The House of Marble, is a working glass and games factory set up in an old pottery.
We went inside the entrance to the building and yes it's "free" - well that is to say there is no admission fee. I should jolly well think there's not, when you consider it's a glorified retail centre!! That would be like Debenhams charging admission for you to just browse! Perhaps they don't charge admission as they make enough money through breakages (All the very expensive glassware is placed low down on open shelves perfect for little fingers! Go figure!)
You walk in through the main doors & you're in the shop. It's pretty much all glassware, jewellery, sweets and marbles on the ground floor. The glassware is over priced and not particularly special (in my opinion). It's plain but pricey! I ended up buying a paperweight that was a chunk of rough glass with one smooth side with an amonite etched inside the glass. I paid £24 which was ok. It was reduced from £60 and there is no way on earth it was ever worth that! The sweets & cakes etc that were for sale were also overpriced (in the opinion of at least half a dozen Mums who were making kids put things back with offers of trips to Tesco's or Trago etc later!)
The upstairs is mostly wooden bits of furniture & toys, woollen jumpers & handmade handbags, clothing & knicknacks.
The prices made us stop looking at the items after the first two minutes! ie Small bagatelle board £87.99, A wood & marble solitaire set £699.99, £200 daytime cloth handbag, £250 summer cardigan.
The upper balcony has a viewing point for a large marble run. It's an amazing huge metal maze contraption on the wall that runs massive marbles through it. It's quite a feat of precision engineering, but the down side is it makes a deafening (and after a few mins annoying!) noise. Although the noise of bored whining children can drown it out occasionally if you're lucky.
You can apparently watch the glass blowing demonstration ... if you go on a day it's happening - which we didn't (apparently Saturday it's not available).
So with no demonstration to watch you're left to attempt to mooch around through hoards of bored kids and frazzled parents shouting to little Britney to put that £200 vase down and little Kyle he can't have the tiny £8 piece of easter cake as it's only 99p in Tesco!!
Downstairs again & out of retail hell, you go through to a small museum (two rooms) that have shelves of vintage marbles & toys etc.
There are three large marble mazes behind glass that you can press a button to set them off & watch the marbles run round. (One of them currently has an "out of order" sign on it! The other two though are good to watch (for a couple of minutes).
The glass museum tells you about the history of glass, the basic ingredients and how various items are made, and the different qualities of glass materials etc. It's very interesting but only takes about 15-20mins.
We enjoyed looking at the old wooden games & toys, taking a trip down memory lane as to which ones we'd had when we were children. But I'd certainly say from our experience on the day, that the older adults present had more fun looking at them than the young parents & children had! They just glanced at them & walked on.
The building is not particularly wheelchair friendly. A lady in a wheelchair was struggling to get round the groundfloor due to aisle widths & large crowds. Her carer was then unable to get her down the ramp into the disabled toilet as the very heavy door wouldn't stay open, so I (a total stranger to them!) needed to go into the toilet infront of them & hold the door open, let the carer wheel her in and then I had to squeeze past to exit the toilet so they could lock the door behind me! We saw them later having difficulty getting through the cafe to the seating area.
The busy cafe has seating indoors (but it's dark and gloomy) and also seating in an adjoining conservatory.
It was such a wonderful hot sunny day we found the packed conservatory too warm so we were lucky to finally grab a table outside (you have to be quick though as everyone hovers for a chance to sit outside!)
There is a 'games garden' on the small upper patio area where children can play large size chess, skittles or Jenga etc. Great fun when the children were playing with adults, but annoying (to say the least!) when parents got bored & left their obnoxious offspring unattended to start throwing 3ft wooden toys around!
The cafe/restaurant is a little expensive for a 'family day out' type lunch, but if you're sensible you can have a really lovely lunch on a budget.
We were going to order a "Cream Tea" (scone, jam, cream, pot of tea) for £4.75, a sandwich for £5.95, and a cake for £2.75 (£13.45 total) however watching food arrive at neighbouring tables we sussed the cheapest option was "The Old Pottery Afternoon Tea" It was excellent value! For a mere £8.95 you get a selection of sandwiches (West Country brie & apple with homemade chutney, plus beautiful Locally smoked salmon and cucumber) plated up with a large amount of fresh salad garnish, grapes, orange slices and dish of coleslaw. An enormous (double size) heart shaped scone with clotted cream and lovely preserves, plus a large slice of cake, and a choice of either a pot of tea or coffee!
The food was very good quality, fresh and tasty!
So we saved £4.50 but had exactly the same food we wanted, just a different way of ordering it! Every little helps, especially if there are a few of you on a family day out.
The cafe also serves a wide range of hot meals & snacks. The food looked hearty portions, fresh & tasty. (Other diners certainly sounded happy with the food whilst eating & left very little)
The cafe is licensed and serves a range of wines, beers, and even champagne. They offer a "Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two" which is £38.95 and includes a Bottle of champagne, selection of sandwiches, hearty scone with clotted cream, finest preserve, slice of cake with tea or coffee. Although, on a personal note, we found the Champagne for TWO to be a strange choice for a daytime-only cafe to offer, when the fairly remote location means one of you is going to be driving (??)
House of Marbles certainly won't keep you occupied for a whole day - maybe 2-3 hours including lunch.
There is a large car park outside so you shouldn't have trouble parking.
Its open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10.00am to 5.00pm. Closed on Easter Sunday (due to "Sunday trading laws" according to the sign!).
I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone with young children, and would say wheelchair users would ideally need to be accompanied.
Note from my miserable 'other half' - "Husbands might prefer to keep hold of 'the plastic' if your wife is into overpriced handbags & clothing that apparently aren't even designer brands!"
Verdict - I wouldn't go again, except to call in for lunch if I'm already in the area.
Many thanks for reading this. xx
(I may also be posting it on Ciao under the same name - Zurich11)
Summary: Verdict - I wouldn't go again, except to call in for a tasty lunch if I'm already in the area.
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