Founded in 1196, Torre Abbey began as a monastery. It was later adapted as a private house - home to the secretive Roman Catholic Cary family, who lived there for nearly 300 years. The local council acquired Torre Abbey in 1930, and adapted it for use as an art gallery and Mayor's Parlour, and it has recently been renovated. The important but little-known story of Catholicism in England provides a sub-plot of the book. From the end of the Third Crusade in 1192 to the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England in 1850, every significant event that affected English Catholics was illuminated or reflected by events at Torre Abbey. Probably, no other house in the country could be used to tell the story of English Catholics so well.
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