Barton Pines history revealed during restoration at Beyond Escapes


Our stunning Mansion House at Beyond Escapes Devon was lovingly restored, in 2018, capturing all of its charm and character. But what about the stories hidden deep within its walls. Discovering it was known as Barton Pines was just the start of a host of secrets locked away inside.

Super Sleuths a St Mary’s Primary School

Bursting with excitement and determination, year 4 pupils of Collaton St Mary’s Primary School were the little investigators chosen to uncover the mystery of our old Mansion House. Enlisting the help of locals with a stash of personal photos, a bank of wonderful memories and well preserved newspaper clippings, they pieced together some mind blowing tales.

A zoological connection

The little detectives first discovered that Barton Pines was owned by the Whitely family. But, they were no ordinary family. Herbert Whitely was eccentric yet forward thinking and along with his private menagerie, he was one of the founders of Paignton Zoo, in 1923. Over time, he and his colleagues paved the way and became significant figures in creating the thriving tourism industry right here in Devon.

Sky high ambitions

Flying on to the scene next was Keith Fordyce who fell in love with our striking manor whilst flying overhead in his plane. Keith was not only a keen aviator, he was also the famous broadcasting presenter of Ready, Steady Go! which rocked the nation and rose to popularity in the 1960s. After persuading the Whitely family to sell Barton Pines, he promptly turned it into a fascinating war museum. Here he showcased amazing artefacts like bomb replicas and Second World War planes.

An orphanage and a hospital too

The mysteries didn’t stop there. The children from Collaton St Mary’s Primary School kept digging into the past and after a tour of the mansion they discovered a few more surprises. Richard Soley, General Manager at Beyond Escapes was delighted to hear of such a chequered past. He remarked, “Having known little about the history of the Mansion House when it was Barton Pines, it’s great to discover it was owned by extraordinary residents, including celebrities, as well as becoming an orphanage and a hospital.”

A little luxury and a lot of hard work

We’d like to thank our little super sleuths for uncovering the exciting history behind our well loved luxury retreat. The Mansion House at BE Devon/ is once again a wonderful sanctuary to anyone who wants to escape their busy lives and relax in harmony.

Here you can choose from gloriously contemporary mansion suites flooded with light and tranquillity. Cares are washed away in our superb BE You Spa & Gym, with a thermal Vitality pool set on the terrace to take in the very best of the Devonshire views. While our BE Tempted Restaurant chefs serve sumptuous dishes crafted from local produce.

A striking display

If you’d like to see all the hard work the children put into finding and telling the stories, it’s all on display for anyone to browse in the foyer of the Mansion House. Why not take a tour of our grounds and stop for a coffee or lunch at our BE Tempted Restaurant while you’re here?

Whether you remember it as Barton Pines, or are curious about the new Beyond Escapes, you can enjoy the same glorious view down to Torbay that it’s always had. And just imagine, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of local heroes who changed the shape of Devon and added to the unique character of our stunning Mansion House.