House of Marbles – Bovey Tracey, England - Atlas Obscura
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Bovey Tracey, England

House of Marbles

This historic factory peddles classic toys from the picturesque English county of Devon. 

Dedicated to the production of marbles and other classic childhood pastimes, House of Marbles was founded in 1973 by a craftsman who originally specialized in board games. And over four decades later, this quirky factory is still facilitating play.

Located in Bovey Tracey, a significant region in the history of ceramics, House of Marbles is a hub of niche art forms with old-world origins. The complex is complete with on-site glass art facilities, shops, a restaurant, and several museums dedicated to toys and games, ceramics, glassware, and of course, marbles.

A source of marvel and nostalgia, the marble gets its due at this unique facility. The Glass and Marble Museum is undoubtedly a highlight of the attraction, tracing the 4,000-year-old history of these beguiling objects. Visitors are educated about the history and technique of marble-crafting and glass-blowing while they peruse the museum’s impressive marble acquisitions, with the opportunity to try their hand at what may just be the largest Marble Run in the U.K., entitled “Snooki 2000.” 

Over at Teign Valley Glass, visitors can watch working artists employ both traditional and contemporary techniques to craft hand-blown masterpieces in real time. A Pottery Museum examines another ancient art form through the exhibition of ceramic objects and artifacts, some of which date back to the 18th century when Bovey Tracey Potteries—a popular line of pottery made from Bovey Basin clay in Devon—was among the first examples of mass-produced ceramic goods. The Pottery Museum also showcases fine examples of muffle furnaces, high-temperature ovens used to bake ceramic artworks.

Over at the Games Museum, 17th-century toys and vintage board games delight children of all ages. And when you’ve tired of simply looking at toys, head over to the Games Garden to play marbles and ascend a climbing wall. As of 2018, a Brass Rubbing Trail has been added to House of Marbles’ list of activities. This permanent attraction is ideal for families with young ones age four and up, and includes a self-guided tour of 10 different trails.

Know Before You Go

House of Marbles is located off the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth. It is open seven days a week year-round (except major holidays), from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission and parking are free. Reservations for the Old Pottery Restaurant are recommended. The Brass Rubbing Trail costs £1 per participant. Visitors should reserve approximately 30 minutes for the attraction. Three of the 10 trails on the self-guided tour are located outdoors.

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