Historic Buildings in Plymouth

Steeped in rich and interesting history, Plymouth is full of beautiful buildings that reveal its heritage. Shop and dine in a beautiful old naval yard, take a stroll through war memorials at Plymouth Hoe and – if you’re a gin lover – make sure you head to the distillery for an informative tour and a tasty tipple.

Show more
Show less

Royal William Yard

Historically, the Royal William Yard has always had a special importance to the city of Plymouth. It was the Royal Navy’s most important victualling yard, providing naval personnel with the food, drink and supplies they needed not just to survive, but to stay fighting fit at sea. Today it’s still one of Plymouth’s main hubs, providing food, drinks and shopping to all.

The Yard is said to be the finest group of buildings the Royal Navy has ever constructed. And they’ve been transformed in recent years to the extent that, on the inside at least, this collection of iconic Grade I and Grade II listed buildings are barely recognisable from their naval heritage. They were regenerated by Urban Splash with the idea of transforming them into the best places to work, rest and play in the south-west.

Were they successful? See for yourself – head down and take a stroll through Royal William Yards’ excellent selection of shops, galleries, restaurants, apartments, cafés and bars. In fact, they’re so good, places like Vignoble and Seco Lounge made their way into our page dedicated to the Plymouth nightlife.

Show more
Show less
Royal William Yard

Royal William Yard

Show more
Show less
Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth Hoe

Show more
Show less
Plymouth Gin Distillery

Plymouth Gin Distillery

Show more
Show less

Plymouth Hoe

With exceptional views across the Plymouth Sound, Drake’s Island, and Mount Edgcumbe across the county border into Cornwall, Plymouth Hoe is the massive public park that dominates the south side of the city. The Hoe itself is made even more famous by the fact it’s rumoured Sir Francis Drake played bowls there in 1588 while waiting for the tide to change before sailing out to take on the Spanish Armada.

Speaking of Plymouth’s most famous explorer, there’s a statue of Drake on the Hoe, along with the Plymouth Naval Memorial that faces due south and commemorates the 7,200 naval personnel of WWI, and nearly 16,000 of WWII who were lost or buried at sea.

The naval memorial and Smeaton’s Tower are the Hoe’s two most prominent landmarks. The latter is the lighthouse that now sits towards the south side of the park. The Hoe hasn’t always been its home, though. It’s actually the upper section of John Smeaton’s Eddystone Lighthouse, which was moved here brick by brick to commemorate the life and work of the celebrated civil engineer.

Smeaton’s Tower is now classified as a Grade I listed building. It’s open to the public, so if you’re feeling brave, you can climb its 93 steps and ladders to the lantern room to take in its sublime views of the Plymouth Sound.

Show more
Show less

Plymouth Gin Distillery

Not a lot’s changed at the Plymouth Gin Distillery over the past couple of hundred years. Since 1793, they’ve been using their original recipe to make their award winning Plymouth Gin in what is the oldest working distillery in England.

The building itself goes back even further, to the early 1400s which makes it one of the oldest buildings in Plymouth, but it hasn’t always been a distillery. You can find out about its heritage by taking one of the fun and informative tours. You’ll get to find out more about the building’s former life as a monastery of the Black Friars, or the fact that for a time it was a town prison, or the titbit of trivia that claims this is where The Pilgrim Fathers spent their last night in England before setting sail aboard the Mayflower to discover the New World in 1620.

It’s almost enough to distract from the fact they do some rip-roaringly good gin – you get to see the process of how it’s made on the tours too. Afterwards, you can enjoy a quick tipple in The Refectory, their cocktail lounge, or relax over a meal in the Tanner Brothers’ Barbican Kitchen Brasserie.

Show more
Show less