Birdwood House, which is adjacent to the Market Square of Totnes High Street, is a Listed Building dating back to the late 17th century. Originally known as Somerset House it was the home of the Babbage family, before the birth of Charles, then later it became the residence of William Payne an innkeeper and mayor of Totnes in 1707 and 1728 who changed the name to Paynes House. Dr Roger Birdwood, mayor in 1781, 1789 and 1795 also lived here.
In the 18th Century the upper floors were extended forward over the pavement to form the town's poultry market and this space is still used as part of the Totnes market scene.
In the 1930’s Simonds Brewery established The Commercial Hotel and this ran successfully until the Pannier Market fire on 17th March 1955. Although the building was largely undamaged by the fire, the hotel closed down and the building was bought by Douglas Mitchell who in 1957 renamed it and formed the Birdwood House Trust to provide accommodation for various educational and community activities. In 2005, a major refurbishment project was carried out to form The Gallery at Birdwood House along with improved accommodation for the other users.