Totleigh Barton, the first ever Arvon centre, is a 16th-century manor house in one of the most peaceful and idyllic parts of Devon.
Totleigh Barton is a thatched manor house with 14 single rooms and shared bathrooms. There is a wheelchair-accessible bedroom with en-suite bathroom. There is a cozy kitchen, a historic dining room with a wood burner, a comfortable lounge and spaces to relax and write throughout the house. The recently renovated barn offers a comfortable space for evening readings. Since our access to mobile signal and wifi is limited at Totleigh Barton, we invite you to think of a retreat to this beautiful old house as a full ‘digital detox’ – a chance to make real progress with your writing with no distractions.
All your food and drink supplies are provided, except for alcohol, which can be delivered on request early in the week from a local wine merchant. We’re firmly committed to buying seasonally and locally produced goods; our menu reflects this. If you have any dietary needs for ethical, religious or medical reasons, please ring the centre to discuss – it’s important that you tell us in advance.
Totleigh Barton lies two miles from the village of Sheepwash, with walks along the River Torridge nearby. There is a beautiful and productive garden and quiet spaces on-site for writing, including a pod in the garden often used for one-to-one tutorials. There’s an orchard on-site where we grow plentiful crops of fruit.
“To step over the threshold into Totleigh Barton has always been to step into a world of writing.”
— Penelope Shuttle
"Totleigh feels a calm and wonderfully creative place to be - that feeling of being able to let my hair down and leave everything at home behind."
— Carol Forbes
"The whole package – tutors, venue, staff, environment, food – totally empowering, energising and unblocking. Thank you!"
— Course participant
We do not currently recommend this house if you are a wheelchair user. Totleigh Barton is a sixteenth-Century manor house and has many steps and tight corners. In the future we hope to redevelop the property to provide level access.
SHARED SPACES: There is one large step down into the sitting room, and a ramp without rails, across a ditch into the barn (often used as a workshop space). Door width from the hall into the sitting room is 83cm/32.5in. The door width from the hall into the downstairs toilet is 80cm/31in. Door handles, light switches and power sockets are at various heights.
TOILET: There are two non-accessible downstairs toilets.
KITCHEN AND DINING: There is one step and a tight entrance into the kitchen, but there is level access from the kitchen into the dining room. There is a level change from the dining room into the hallway. The outer kitchen door width is 79cm/31in, and the inner kitchen door width is 88cm/34 in. Door width from the Kitchen into the dining room is 100cm/39in, and the door width from the dining room into the hall is 90cm/35in.
COOKING: Writers take it in turns to jointly prepare meals. If you are unable to do this, it is not a problem, you will get the opportunity to remove yourself from the rota when you book, or contact us on the dedicated access email or phone number. All work surfaces are a standard height, but lower tables can be provided. There are base cupboards with utensils, crockery and other supplies at an accessible height. We have a portable step for those with restricted height to access worktops etc. Dining seating is benches with some chairs available.
OUTSIDE: There is a gravel car park. A path runs from the car park to the main entrance, which is actually the back door.
TRAIN STATION: Exeter St Davids, which is one hours drive away. The station has level access throughout. As Totleigh Barton is so rural, taxis must be booked in advance. You will get the opportunity when you book to ask Arvon to do this on your behalf, or you can contact us on the access email or phone number.
THE GROUNDS: These are accessed through two entrances, both through archways. In the front garden the paths are not level. The general path through the grounds is maintained grass. It circles a lovely pond and several benches, a writing pod, with one step at the entrance, and a summer house. There is a bench within 3 metres of the kitchen door, which can be moved closer if needed.
Totleigh Barton was built in the 16th-century, and in a recent study it was found that people have been living on the site of Totleigh Barton for nearly a thousand years, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Travelling by car
From Okehampton, take the A386 towards Hatherleigh. At the roundabout outside Hatherleigh, turn left and take the A3072 to Highampton, where you need to look for the right-hand turning for Sheepwash (on a sharp, left hand bend). After about a mile, turn right to Totleigh, immediately before the bridge over the River Torridge, and down a narrow lane, signposted Totleigh. After about 3/4 mile, on a long rise, you’ll see the Arvon sign at the start of a track on the left. The house is at the very end of this track.
///juggle.ideas.scrubbing is Totleigh’s what3words address, which can be more reliable than a street address or postcode so enter it into the free what3words app to find us that way.
Travelling by train
The nearest train station is Exeter St David’s, which is just over an hour’s drive away from Totleigh.
For residential retreats: You must arrange and pay for your own taxi to Totleigh Barton. Please contact us if you’d like advice on local taxi firms.
For tutored residential courses: Please contact us at least a week before the course starts if you’d like a taxi to collect you from the station. The pick-up point is immediately outside the main station exit at 3.30pm. The fee for the taxi from Exeter St Davids will be free, covered by Arvon. We can also arrange for a taxi to take you back to Exeter St David’s on Saturday morning at 10am.
Please see the accommodation, food and accessibility page for further information.
Artistic Director and Centre Director: Mary Morris
House Manager: Helen Reddaway
House Manager: Sandy Potter
Centre Administrator: Kerensa Wilton
COURSES AND RETREATS AT TOTLEIGH BARTON
Children & YA
Writing for Children and Young People
On the Write Lines: From Picture Books to YA
The Art of Persuasion
Poetry: Finding Your Unique Voice
Tapping into the Ocean Within