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Church Living and Church Living Cottage

A Grade II* Listed Building in Branscombe, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6907 / 50°41'26"N

Longitude: -3.14 / 3°8'23"W

OS Eastings: 319571

OS Northings: 88518

OS Grid: SY195885

Mapcode National: GBR PC.73QJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 4797.Y8V

Plus Code: 9C2RMVR6+72

Entry Name: Church Living and Church Living Cottage

Listing Date: 22 February 1955

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1104143

English Heritage Legacy ID: 88710

Location: Branscombe, East Devon, Devon, EX12

County: Devon

District: East Devon

Civil Parish: Branscombe

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Branscombe St Winifred

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Farmhouse Thatched cottage

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7/38 Church Living and Church
- Living Cottage

House and cottage in a former farmhouse. Traditionally the place has been
associated with the nearby Church of St Winifred (q.v.) but it was never a vicarage.
It has been suggested that it was a summer residence of the Canons of Exeter
Cathedral. It is essentially late C15-early C16 but parts are earlier, maybe as
early as the C13; major later C16 and C17 improvements; the main block was
refurbished with a stable block extension in the late C19, and the crosswing was
refurbished circa 1970. Mostly local Salcombe stone rubble but there are sections,
particularly in the crosswing of coursed blocks of ashlar; stone rubble stacks, one
with its original (late C16 - early C17) Beerstone ashlar chimneyshaft, the others
are topped with C20 brick; thatch roof to the crosswing, but the thatch has been
replaced with slate over the main block.
Plan and development: house and cottage occupying an L-plan building. The long
main block faces south-south-east, say south, and it is built across the hillslope.
This is now Church Living. At the right (east) end there is a 2-room plan former
stable block which was added in the late C19. The rest of this house has a 4-room
plan adapted from a late medieval layout. At the right (east) end is the service
end kitchen which has a large axial (former gable-end) stack backing onto the stable
extension. Between this kitchen and a small unheated room there is the present
entrance hall containing the main staircase. Left of the unheated room is a
hall/parlour with an axial stack backing onto the unheated room. At the left (west)
end of the main block is another small unheated room, formerly the inner room, but
in the C19 it was converted to a cider house with apple loft over. At the left end
is a basically 2-room plan crosswing projecting forward, and this has been divided
off from the main block and is Church Living Cottage.
The whole building has a long and complex structural history. Although the evidence
is slight it seems likely that the C13 or C14 house occupied the crosswing. If so
it was probably a first floor hall house. Also it was extensively refurbished when
the main block was built in the late C15-early C16. This new main block was built
with a 3-room-and-cross-passage plan. The original service end room was larger than
the present kitchen since the C19 entrance hall and staircase was inserted into it.
The unheated room between it and the hall was the original passage. It is not clear
whether this passage went through the rear since the ground rises steeply behind.
The small unheated inner room was the only section that was floored at this time.
Hall, passage and service end were open to the roof, divided by low partitions and
was heated by an open hearth fire. The crosswing now became the parlour wing with
principal bedchamber (the solar) and maybe included a chapel. The rear gable-end
stack might date from this time although it has since been much altered. There is
evidence that there was a newel stair in the angle of the 2 wings from the ground
floor of the crosswing (the parlour) to the first floor chamber.
The later C16 and C17 improvements are concentrated in the main block. The service
end was probably floored over in the mid C16 and the lower passage partition was
built up to full height. The kitchen stack is probably late C16-early C17 and
inserted at the same time as the hall fireplace was inserted and the hall and
passage floored over. The house was then, as now, 2 storeys throughout.
Exterior: the front gable-end of the crosswing includes a good deal of stone ashlar
including a chamfered plinth. The ground floor window here is C20 with no glazing
bars but the first floor one is a Beerstone double lancet with relieving arch over;
it is this window which provides the evidence of the C13 or C14 origins of the
building. The outer (west) side of the crosswing has a C20 first floor doorway and
windows. A landslip has built up the ground level to first floor level here
although a buried ground floor slit window is exposed inside. The inner (east) side
of the crosswall shows the blocked doorway to the original newel staircase and
alongside projecting into the front wall of the main block is a section of an ashlar
rebate which is thought to be the remains of the newel stair.
The front of the main block has an overall irregular 8-window front of mostly C20
casements and most have glazing bars. The 3-window section at the right end is to
the C19 stable block and a straight join of well-dressed quoins marks the end of the
old house. The inner room windows (at the left end) were converted to a doorway
with loading hatch over in the C19 when it became the cider house. The hall has a
late C16-early C17 Beerstone 4-light window with a hoodmould; the mullions have
external hollow chamfers and internal ovolo mouldings. Although the kitchen has a
C20 window there is a late C16 - early C17 hoodmould over. Immediately left of this
is the front doorway; a C19 segmental-headed arch containing a plank door and
overlight. There is a small gabled service porch further right. In fact there are
a number of blocked features on both sides of the main block. On the front there
are the ashlar jambs of what appears to have been a massive passage front doorway
and others no doubt represent windows. There is a slit window in front of the
kitchen stack and to rear of the hall the complete surround of a full height arch-
headed window; this is blocked by a late C16 - early C17 oak 3-light window, the
mullions have external chamfers and internal ovolo mouldings. Also in the rear wall
the inner room chamber has an original small Beerstone arch-headed window. A
doorway to right (used as an apple loft loading hatch) is thought to be secondary
although it contains the remains of a late C15 - early C16 shoulder-headed door
Also at the back there is an external flight of stone steps to the C19 stable
hayloft loading hatch.
Good interior: the large kitchen fireplace has a plain chamfered oak lintel and
includes a large side oven. The ceiling was 3 bays (including the entrance hall and
stair) carried on large crossbeams, chamfered with straight cut stops. The unheated
room between stairs and hall/parlour is the original passage. The lower side
includes an original low partition; a plaster panelled oak-framed screen which
includes a 2-centred arch doorway. Above it the bottom of a secondary oak-framed
crosswall is exposed, built on top of the original low partition. It is plastered
over on the first floor. The hall/parlour has mostly late C16 - early C17 features
but the upper crosswall is original; a full height oak-framed, small panel frame
which includes a blocked shoulder-headed arch at ground floor level. The parlour
fireplace is Beerstone ashlar with an oak lintel with sunken chamfer. The chamber
above has a contemporary Beerstone ashlar fireplace with Tudor arch head. The hall
ceiling is carried by an axial beam with broad ovolo mouldings and exagerated scroll
stops. The inner room has not been modernised since it was converted to a cider
house and it still contains the cider press. It was originally floored and some of
the original plain joists of large scantling still remain in situ.
The original late C15-early C16 roof of the main block is intact from end to end.
It is 6 bays, and carried on side-pegged jointed cruck trusses with cambered
collars, threaded purlins and had single sets of curving windbraces, several of
which still survive. The hall/inner room was a closed truss from the beginning and
the bay over the inner room is clean. The rest was open to the roof is is heavily
smoke-blackened from the original open hearth fire.
The crosswing was modernised circa 1970 and no carpentry detail is exposed on the
ground floor. Any fireplace here is blocked. The first floor fireplace is stone
rubble with plain-chamfered oak lintel; it is of indeterminate date. There is a
blocked oak shoulder-headed doorway at first floor level to the main block. The
roof here is probably late C15 - early C16 except for the front truss which was
replaced circa 1970. The other 2 are arch-braced trusses with a very complete set
of carpenters' assembly marks. This roof is clean. There is a stone wall between
the main block and crosswing with an oak frame on top, a closed tie beam truss, to
take the main roof. This seems to support the theory that the crosswing is earlier
than the main block.
The carpentry detail of the stable block is late C19 including the king post truss
roof. The joinery detail throughout the building is late C19 and C20. At first
floor level over the late C19 stair in Church Living, there is an ornamental plaster
coat of arms. It is heavily painted over and therefore cannot be made out. It
could be C17 but there are in this area a number of C19 plaster plaques bearing the
arms of the Russian Tsars and were erected to commemorate a visit to the area by the
Grand Duchess Helene of Russia in 1831.
Church Living and Church Living Cottage make up one of the most interesting medieval
houses in the area. The historic fabric of the building is remarkably well-
preserved and other features certainly survive under C19 and C20 plaster. Moreover
it is a most attractive building and forms part of a group with the nearby Church of
St Winifred and other thatch-roofed cottages close by.
Source: F C Butters Branscombe, The Parish and the Church (1949) p 10.

Listing NGR: SY1955688521

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