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Combe House

A Grade I Listed Building in Gittisham, Devon

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Latitude: 50.774 / 50°46'26"N

Longitude: -3.2171 / 3°13'1"W

OS Eastings: 314273

OS Northings: 97864

OS Grid: SY142978

Mapcode National: GBR P9.9LT8

Mapcode Global: FRA 4741.JGK

Entry Name: Combe House

Listing Date: 22 February 1955

Last Amended: 27 January 1989

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1098026

English Heritage Legacy ID: 87144

Location: Gittisham, East Devon, Devon, EX14

County: Devon

District: East Devon

Civil Parish: Gittisham

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Gittisham St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Listing Text

SY 19 NW

7/143 Combe House(formerly listed
22.2.55 as Combe)


Hotel, formerly the home of the Beaumonts, Putts and Markers: the latter still own
Combe House and the Combe estate. Medieval origins, remodelled in the C17, C18 and
C19. Rendered, with a slate roof; stacks, some with rendered shafts, some with
renewed octagonal brick shafts with moulded cornices.
Plan and development: Approximately H plan, facing west. The late C17 hall is in the
centre block with a small entrance hall to the right (south) and a C17 stair hall to
the left (north). The south crosswing, heavily remodelled in the early C19, contains
2 principal rooms to the front including the former dining room and a former kitchen
to the rear. To the left of the main range a front wing at right angles is fitted
out as the C18 morning room and may have been the medieval inner room. The north
crosswing, which adjoins this wing, is unusual in that the front block is set at a
slight angle- this contains a fine C18 parlour on the ground floor. The rear (east)
section of the wing is not continuous with the angled block and is conventionally
aligned with the rest of the house, it now functions as a service wing.
The development of the plan is complicated and discussed in detail by Christopher
Hussey in his 1955 articles in Country Life. The medieval origins of the house are
evident from an ogee-headed doorframe discovered in the north side partition of the
present hall. The doorframe is no longer visible but suggests that the late C17 hall
is the result of successive remodellings of a medieval original. The house must have
been substantial in the C16 since the Beaumonts are said to have "lived at Combe in
great splendour and esteem for three generations" (Hussey, probably quoting Prince).
The last Beaumont died in 1591. By this stage the hall had probably received the
transomed windows and attic dormers shown on a survey plan of circa 1787 unless these
alterations were carried out by Nicholas Putt, who bought Combe in 1615. Major work
including the remodelling of the hall and the fine staircase was undertaken by Sir
Thomas Putt, described by one of the family as "an extravagant man" (Polwhele), who
succeeded in 1605 and died 1686. Late C18 refurbishment of a very high quality in
the 2 north west wings is associated with Black Tom Putt, who succeeded in 1757. 3
late C18 illustrations and a plan show the outlines of the house much as it is at
present, before the conservative remodelling for the Reverend Thomas Putt who
succeeded in 1812. He remodelled the south crosswing, added an extra storey to the
hall range and introduced an open well stair behind the entrance hall, rejecting the
plans for more extensive alterations which had been drawn up by Sir John Soane in
1805 for Reymundo Putt. The sash windows shown in the late C18 illustrations were
mostly replaced and subsequently altered to stone mullioned windows in the late C19.
Exterior: 2 storeys and attic. Asymmetrical 1:1:4:1 bay front, the 4-bay main range
flanked by the gable ends of the wings, the angled wing at the extreme left. The
gables, including 2 in the centre, are crowned by carved finials. Early C19 gabled
Gothick porch to right of centre with diagonal buttresses with set-offs and big
pinnacles, ogee-headed moulded exterior doorframe with a hoodmould. Late C19
fenestration: 3 ground floor 3-light stone mullioned windows with 2 transoms: 4 first
floor 2-light transomed mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, the window above the porch
is blocked. C18 downpipes with rainwater heads. The 2 flanking wings have set back
buttresses. The inner return of the north wing is blind; the south wing has 2
blocked 2-light mullioned windows with cusped heads. The gable ends of the wings
have mullioned widows with hoodmoulds: 4-light and transomed to the ground floor
(blocked to the south wing); similar smaller 4-light first floor window, 2-light
mullioned attic windows with hoodmoulds. The angled outer north wing has a C19
parapet with a moulded cornice and a 2-storey canted bay of at least C18 origins but
with late C19 transomed and mullioned windows which descend to flank the Gothic style
Tudor arched doorway with a 2-leaf door. The left (north) return of the north
crosswing has a C19 porch, partly blocked in, to the side entrance and mostly C20
casements beyond. The right return of the south crosswing is symmetrical to the
west, and largely of the early C19 in form but with late C19 fenestration. 5
symmetrical bays to the left, gabled to the south to left and right with left and
right buttresses and a pair of buttresses flanking the centre bay. 2-light transomed
windows with hoodmoulds to the ground and first floor; 2-light attic windows with
Tudor arches and chamfered frames. The service wing, to the right is slightly set
back and crowned with a bellcote, with a mixture of C19 and C20 sashes and casements.
On the ground floor, an early C19 side entrance with a massive flat porch canopy on
shaped brackets. A large tall, round-headed window with original glazing bars lights
the kitchen. The rear elevation of the house has a variety of mostly C20 timber
casements with glazing bars. A 3-light pointed traceried window lights the stair
hall. It is difficult to date: some of the masonry may be medieval but the tracery
is unconventional; it is glazed with C18 painted glass. Glazed lantern to main
range, lighting the C19 stair well behind the entrance hall.
Interior: Rich in C17, C18 and C19 fittings. The late C17 hall is very fine with
bolection-moulded wainscot panelling and 2-leaf doors at each end with splendid
doorcases with broken pediments on consoles. The panelling incorporates a built in
case for a weight-actuated clock, the weights enclosed in a fixed cupboard. The
clock itself is missing. Hussey considers this "a probably unique transitional form
between the hanging clock and the long-case or grandfather - that replaced it in the
last quarter of the 17th Century" (Country Life, June 16, 1955, p. 1557). Massive
bolection-moulded chimney-piece with an eared architrave and a bolection-moulded
panel above flanked by Corinthian pilasters decorated with swags of fruit; Dutch-
style tiles line the hearth. The ceiling is probably early C18 with moulded ribs in
a panelled design enriched with floral motifs in roundels and a boldly-projecting
dentil cornice with an egg and dart frieze. The stair hall is also decorated with
plaster panelling including round-headed niches. Grand open well stair of the late
C17 with a closed string, square-section newel posts crowned with vases of flowers, a
flat-topped handrail and big turned balusters decorated with egg and dart and cable
moulding. 2-leaf door to the hall with an eared architrave and cornice; probably
original paved floor; C18 painted glass in the stair window rather similar to a
Peckitt design in character, with Gothick painted tracery. The 2 west rooms in the
north wings have C18 fittings: they are linked by a passage at the west. The
southern room has a circa 1760 Rococo plaster ceiling and a decorated cornice and
frieze. The chimney-piece, white marble with terms on the jambs, is probably, C19.
The northern room, set at a slight angle has an exquisite Rococo chimney-piece "a
masterpiece of its genre" (Hussey), incorporating an oval mirror. The lintel and
jambs are marble, the lintel scalloped. The pine frame to the fireplace and the
mirror is delicately carved with flowers, birds and a fox. Doorcases with broken
pediments include friezes matching the chimney-piece and the long-necked birds in the
decorated plaster ceiling also seem to have been inspired by the chimney-piece. The
ceiling has a central roundel with wreaths of pears, grapes and roses. The 2 early
C19 rooms in the south crosswing have marble chimney-pieces, plaster cornices and
Jacobean style decorated ceilings, possibly in pressed paper. The former dining
room, to the right, has oak and pine panelled wainscotting. The entrance hall has a
boldly-projecting C18 dentil cornice; C19 open well top-lit stair behind with turned
balusters. The old kitchen at the east end of the south wing, retains an early C19
kitchen fireplace. Several rooms on the first floor with good cornices, bolection-
moulded dados and late C17 and later chimney-pieces. Brick-vaulted cellars survive
below the south crosswing.
Roof: Partially inspected. Trusses seen over the main range and south crosswing are
of an early C19 character but early timbers may survive in the north wings.
An outstanding country house with high quality interior features. Group value with
associated buildings. The gardens at Combe are grade II on the Register of Parks and
Gardens of Special Historic interest in England, Ref: SY 1497 G132.
Hussey, Christopher, 'Combe', Country Life, June 9, 1955, 1486, 1486-1489; June 16,
1955, 1556-1559.
Polwhele, Richard, History of Devonshire (first edn. 1793), vol. II, p. 323-325.
A watercolour by the Reverend John Swete is in his Devon Tour, vol. 9 (1793), p. 55.
Photographs in the NMR.

Listing NGR: SY1432997851

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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