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Former chapel immediately north of Membury Court

A Grade II* Listed Building in Membury, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8292 / 50°49'45"N

Longitude: -3.0462 / 3°2'46"W

OS Eastings: 326412

OS Northings: 103814

OS Grid: ST264038

Mapcode National: GBR M3.X42M

Mapcode Global: FRA 46HX.51Q

Entry Name: Former chapel immediately north of Membury Court

Listing Date: 8 May 1967

Last Amended: 22 June 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1098473

English Heritage Legacy ID: 88041

Location: Membury, East Devon, Devon, EX13

County: Devon

District: East Devon

Civil Parish: Membury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Membury

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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A late-C13/ early C14 chapel, converted to a cider house in the late C18, and now in domestic use.


A circa late-C13 chapel, adapted in the late C15 and partly-rebuilt in circa 1790 to form a cider house. It was updated in the C20 and early C21.

MATERIALS: constructed of rubble stone and flint with sandstone quoins. The two medieval windows are of better quality sandstone, probably imported from Somerset. There is some oak framing and an oak cider press with cast-iron fittings.

PLAN: broadly rectangular on plan, the building has a concave arc in the north wall towards the west end. There is an inserted first floor in the central bays accessed by an internal stair.

EXTERIOR: the main elevation is loosely of four bays with two door openings to left and right of centre. The doors have timber lintels and windows above, with a larger opening between them at upper level. The doors each have two stone steps. To the right is a stone chapel window with two trefoil-headed lights and Decorated tracery with a quatrefoil, within a c.6m length of C13 wall. It has a partially-intact hoodmould and the central mullion is a C21 replacement. The upper courses of the elevation are C21 tiles and there are two pigeon holes lined in red brick. Three beam ends protrude from the wall around the left window opening. The east gable-end wall is C13 with a central chapel window with three trefoil-headed lights and Decorated tracery with a hexafoil. It has a hoodmould with weathered label stops carved as human heads. The south slope of the roof has a C13 low parapet with sandstone coping. The ashlar quoins to the medieval structure (and some re-used at the C18 west end) have narrow chamfered corners. The north wall of the medieval chapel is stone and flint. The C18 stonework of the cider house neatly adjoins the medieval elevations, and in the north wall curves into a central bay where there is a taking-in door opening (widened in the C20 and now a three-light window). To the right of the opening an iron joist protrudes. Further right the wall curves out to form a semicircular feature to accommodate the cider press within. The upper courses of the elevation are C21 tiles. The north-west corner of the building is attached to the curved rear wall of a former late-C18/ early-C19 horse engine-house, constructed of coursed stone and flint block. The west end wall has a door to the right and an opening to the left with a re-used C17 three-light window frame with ovolo-moulded timber mullions. There is a small opening above and to the left, with a timber lintel. The three-light opening is set within a section of wall that curves inwards, probably to accommodate the horse engine. The roof is covered in C21 thatch.

INTERIOR: the east bays are the former chancel and have a raised floor height at the location of a C15 chancel screen, a freestanding oak frame 2.24m high. It has a central doorway with chamfered jambs step-stopped at the top. The chamfer has been cut back at lower level for the passing of barrels. The framing to the north of the doorway is of C21 date. To the south is a middle rail with a low plank and muntin screen below, and central mullion above. The muntins and mullion are chamfered with step stops. A series of oak joists sit in notches along the top of the headbeam, and span the bay to the west to a chamfered crossbeam with step stops. Modern joists extend across the next bay, supported by two cast-iron joist reinforcements that span the width of the building. Above the screen is part of a crosswall. It survives as a cill and two upright studs with a squint window and top rail. The window contains three timber mullions of octagonal section. One panel of wattle-and-daub infill remains. The frame is not in its original position. 150mm to the east of the frame, embedded in the south wall, is a cruck post from a side-pegged jointed cruck truss, probably of late-C15 date. The other first-floor structure and stair are of C21 construction.

At the east (chancel) end, the C13 window is flanked by engaged shafts with moulded bases and capitals, and has a cob cill. The hoodmould has label stops carved as human heads. The southern head is a defaced mitred bishop. The northern head is a young monk with oriental eyes (a favoured C13 feature). The stone shelf to the left of the window has canted corners and a moulded soffit, and is probably a shelf for an image. To the right is another small shelf with a similar moulding, possibly a lamp bracket. To the right of this shelf, and in the north wall, are square recesses, probably putlog holes for scaffolding. The medieval walls are covered in plaster, probably of C15 date, that stops below the east window, around a shadow-image of an altar table. The south wall has an arched piscina to the left of the window. The splayed embrasure of the south window has graffiti including geometric shapes that may be original masons marks. The left jamb of the south-east door is of C13 date.

At the west end is an axial, step-stopped, chamfered beam of large scantling. It is attached to the first-floor structure and the west end wall, and is probably C16/ C17 and reused. It has joist slots showing the south-west of the building was previously floored. A cider press is set in a rubble stone plinth at the north-west end. Its large size indicates the need for the projecting recess in the wall behind it. It is probably of C18 date with C19 adaptations including the introduction of a cast-iron screw. Above the west end are the reordered remains of historic roof structure. The modern roof above is timber-lined and strengthened using steel yacht ties. The floor coverings to the building are C21 lime ash/ blue lias slabs.


There is evidence of Romano-British occupation in the vicinity of Membury Court, and a Roman villa site was excavated in the field to the north of the former medieval chapel in 2014. At Domesday (1086), Membury Court was the manor house of the Manor of Membury, and was given to Goldcliff Priory in Monmouthshire by owner Robert de Chandos in 1113. Under the priory it was farmed by various individuals, possibly including Benedictines. A tax survey of Membury in 1324 noted a manor court house and two mills, and payment to a ‘clerik’. Although there was no mention of a chapel it is thought to have been constructed in the late C13/ early C14. The Manor reverted to the Crown in 1414 when the alien priories were suppressed, and subsequently it was granted to the Duke of Warwick who annexed it to the Abbey of Tewkesbury. The Manor of Membury was presented by the Crown to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor in 1474, and continued in their possession until it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1867. The earliest surviving fabric within the house at Membury Court, in the medieval hall house roof, probably dates to the late C14 or early C15. The chapel was altered in the C15, with the insertion of a first floor, possibly when the adjacent hall house was extended to the east.

The first reference to a chapel on the site is in a 1560 survey when Membury Court was under the ownership of the Chace or Chase family, which states “cum capella adiacent” (“with adjacent chapel”). Later investigation has shown that the structure probably dates to the early C14. A 1649-50 survey describes a chapel but suggests that it was used as a stable with a loft above. By the time of a 1795 survey it is described as “The Old Chapel now turn’d into a Cyder House most of it new built”.

The building is shown on historic maps from the 1840 tithe. Adaptations to the cider house were made in the C19 and C20, and by the early C21 it was being used to house livestock, when the roof structure was replaced. An archaeological investigation of the building took place in 2006, prior to its conversion to domestic use.

Reasons for Listing

The former chapel at Membury Court, Membury, Devon, a late-C13/ early-C14 chapel, converted to a cider house in the late C18, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: this late-C13/ early-C14 chapel has high quality masonry at its east end, featuring ecclesiastical architectural details of the period such as traceried windows with moulded stops, niches and ledges. The remains of the later chancel screen is also of architectural interest, along with the late-C18 cider house fabric and fittings;
* Historic interest: as the early medieval Manor House site at Membury, associated with Goldcliff Priory, and later the Duke of Warwick, Abbey of Tewkesbury and Dean and Chapter of Windsor, Membury Court has a long and rich history with significant associations of historic note;
* Rarity: churches with extensive medieval fabric are relatively uncommon;
* Group Value: it forms part of an important manor house/ historic farmstead site, including a medieval hall house and possibly one of the earliest farm buildings in Devon.

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