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Latitude: 50.8131 / 50°48'46"N
Longitude: -3.2799 / 3°16'47"W
OS Eastings: 309926
OS Northings: 102280
OS Grid: ST099022
Mapcode National: GBR LS.Y4WZ
Mapcode Global: FRA 460Y.B24
Entry Name: Leyhill
Listing Date: 22 February 1955
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1098151
English Heritage Legacy ID: 86840
Location: Payhembury, East Devon, Devon, EX14
District: East Devon
Civil Parish: Payhembury
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
Church of England Parish: Payhembury St Mary the Virgin
Church of England Diocese: Exeter
ST 00 SE
Farmhouse, the remains of a country mansion. The oldest part is dated 1657, the
house was enlarged, rearranged and refurbished in the early C18, another
modernisation is dated 1836 and this is probably the time that the house was reduced
to its present size. Plastered local stone rubble and the early C18 building phase
includes some French bond brick including burnt headers and limestone ashlar
dressings; stone rubble stacks with early C18 or C19 brick chimneyshafts; slate
Plan and development: basically an L-plan house. The main block faces south-south-
east, say south. It has a 3-room plan. In the centre is a lobby containing a large
open well staircase. To right (east) of it is the principal parlour heated by a
rear lateral stack. To left of the stair lobby is the dining room with an end
stack. A 1-room plan rear block projects at right angles to rear of the dining
room. It is an unheated service room and there is a narrow service stair between
the dining room and service room. A single storey kitchen projects from the left
(west) end. It has a fireplace in the front wall which shares the same stack as the
As it stands the house poses problems of interpretation even though the dating of
the parts is not difficult. The single storey kitchen block is early C19, probably
associated with the 1836 date plaque on the chimneyshaft. The former kitchen is the
present dining room. It and the service room behind are clearly part of the 1657
build. The rest of the main block, the stair lobby and the parlour was rebuilt in
the early C18. It is the layout of rooms which causes the problems. The house is
obviously built to a high standard but the outside doorways are very modest; there
is one into the C19 kitchen and the front doorway is into the dining room/former
kitchen. Furthermore the early C18 show front (see below) is confined to only a
part of the front. A narrow lobby at the left (west) end, alongside the parlour,
proves that the house once extended further in that direction. Maybe wings
projected forward each end of the show front. Maybe the show front extended further
westwards and there was a grand entrance there. Only archaeology could provide
answers to these problems of interpretation. Even within the present house there
are problems. For instance there is a large room over the dining room/former
kitchen. Indeed the room may have originally extended to the back of the rear
block. Its high status is indicated by the remains of a C17 ornamental plasterwork
frieze but the room is unheated. Was it a gallery of some kind? Also there is a
large buttress propping the end wall of the rear block. It serves no structural
purpose since the wall leans inwards. Is it therefore an architectural feature?
Apart from the single storey C19 kitchen the house is 2 storeys with largely disused
attics in the roofspace; there is a cellar below the stair lobby and parlour.
Exterior: irregular 1:3-window front. The 3-window section is early C18 and a
display of high quality polite architecture. This is the exposed brick section.
The first floor windows are original pine 24-pane sashes with thick glazing bars
(the centre one is blind), and the ground floor windows are similar 28-pane sashes.
All have limestone ashlar bolection-moulded architraves with keystones. Below the
windows the sides of the architraves are carried down as flat pilasters, those on
the first floor down to a flat platband at first floor level and those on the ground
floor down to a plinth; this gives an apron-like effect. The cellar window below
the plinth are 2-light windows with ovolo-moulded mullions. The narrow strip of the
front wall to right of this section and the rest of the front wall to left of it is
plastered. Immediately to left is the front doorway which contains a C19 part-
glazed 9-panel door behind a contemporary gabled porch. To left is a tripartite
window of C19 18-pane sashes and above that is a C20 casement with glazing bars.
The roof is hipped both ends. The kitchen stack chimneyshaft includes a limestone
plaque inscribed W.R.D. 1836.
The left (west) side is partly covered by the C19 lean-to kitchen. There are 3
first floor windows; 2 are C20 casements but the left one is a C17 limestone 2-light
window with ovolo-moulded mullion and hoodmould. The rear end of the rear block has
a 2-window front of C17 limestone 3-light windows with ovolo-moulded mullions and
hoodmoulds (most lights contain rectangular panes of leaded glass). There is here a
limestone plaque in the centre under the eaves. It has an inscription in a lozenge-
shaped frame which records that the house was "new builded" February 19th 1657 and
includes the initials of John and Mary Willoughby. Directly below is the curious
buttress. It appears to be secondary (probably early C18); the lower stage is
volcanic stone, the upper stage is brick; it is large and has weathered offsets.
The windows to rear of the main block light the staircase (except for the top one
which lights an attic room). The lowest one lights a compartment under the stairs
and it has a C20 casement with glazing bars. The rest are early C18 timber 3-light
casements with flat-faced mullions and contain rectangular panes of leaded glass and
Good interior: although the present house is only a part of the C17 and early C18
mansion it is remarkably well-preserved. The dining room/former kitchen and back
block are dated 1657, the stairhall and parlour section is wholly early C18.
The C17 section has a series of heavy crossbeams on both floors (those in the dining
room/former kitchen and room above are axial in relation to the main block). They
are all lightly plastered and appear to be roughly-chamfered with runout stops as if
intended to be clad in moulded plaster. The dining rood/former kitchen has a large
fireplace with limestone ashlar jambs and seats each side. The oak lintel maybe a
replacement; it is plastered over. The unheated room above is partitioned off from
the stair landing and this partition includes a frieze of 1657 ornamental
plasterwork comprising a series of shields in scrolled cartouches. There is no
evidence that the first floor partitions are earlier than the C19. Some of the
stone mullioned windows at the back include old, if not original, boarded shutters.
The first floor beams carry the attic floor and also act as tie beams to the C17
roof trusses which have pegged dovetail-shaped lap-jointed collars (all further
strengthened by secondary C19 spiked lap-jointed collars).
In the early C18 section none of the structural carpentry is exposed below roof
level. The beams over the stairhall and parlour are cased in early C18 moulded
plaster. The parlour has a 6-panel ceiling and there are small moulded plaster
rosettes at the intersections of the beams. The narrow lobby to east of the parlour
provides evidence that there was once another high status room there. The short
lengths of the beams there are also encased in moulded plasterwork. The rear wall
shows the springing of a tall brick round-headed arch. The parlour is lined with
bolection-moulded panelling in 2 heights. The panels are fielded above and below a
moulded dato. The fielded panel doors and window shutters are contemporary. The
fireplace is also original; it is purple-coloured marble and has moulded imposts and
rounded corners to the lintel. The chamber above has a similar limestone fireplace
with moulded architrave and keystone. The open well stair has an open string with
carved scroll-shaped stair brackets, moulded newel posts, slender turned balusters
and flat moulded handrail. The wall round the stair has fielded panel wainscotting.
The top landing however dates from 1657. It is an arcade of large turned posts with
a balustrade between. Here the turned balusters are heavier than those of the main
stair and have a different design. Also the handrail has a modillion cornice. The
main stair might be a remodelling of the 1657 stair since it does include one 1657 -
style baluster near the top. Most of the doorways in the early C18 are original
with fielded panels. An early C18 fielded panel door leads from the dining
room/former kitchen to the cellar. Above it is a kind of fanlight with glazing bars
borrowing light from the stairhall to light the dining room/former kitchen. The
cellar has a brick and flag floor and a brick vault. Tile early C18 roof is an
interesting structure of tie beam trusses. The collars are high and morticed-and-
tenoned to the principals. The principals do not extend above collar level. It
looks like the apexes of the trusses have been cut off but this was how they were
built. The flat top section was probably designed to keep the early C18 roof the
same height as the 1657 roof. The trusses have carpenter's assembly marks. The
roof structure is complete with its common rafters but there are gaps in the front
and a square set lower purlin which suggests that there were once dormer windows to
Leyhill is an interesting and very well-preserved fragment of a country mansion.
Early descriptions report a chapel here but no evidence remains of it. Also the
walled garden to west of the house mentioned in the former list description has now
been demolished and ploughing has destroyed evidence of the "bowling green".
Leyhill, alias La Hill, is recorded as a manor in the time of Henry III. The
Willoughby family are recorded as living in the parish in the 1630's. In 1655 Mary
Willoughby, the sole heir of the Willoughby estate, married George Trevelyan of
Nettlecombe. According to the date plaque her father John dilloughby built or
enlarged Leyhill on a lavish sale in 1657. His daughter had married well. George
Trevelyan became a baronet in 1661 and died in 1671. A marriage settlement between
another George Trevelyan and a Julia Claverly dated 1731 describes "that capitall
Mansion house, Barton farm and Demesne of or called Leahill"; this was probably
after the early C18 rebuild. The house is apparently well-documented with a great
deal of unsorted material in the Somerset Record Office.
Sources: measured floor plans and extensive photographic record in NMR.
Devon SMR. Documentary research by PCAB Wilson dated 1977 belonging to the house
Conversation with Peter Child.
Listing NGR: ST0992602280
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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