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Hartland Abbey

A Grade I Listed Building in Hartland, Devon

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Latitude: 50.9963 / 50°59'46"N

Longitude: -4.5087 / 4°30'31"W

OS Eastings: 224053

OS Northings: 124875

OS Grid: SS240248

Mapcode National: GBR K3.KKNJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 16FG.Z6D

Plus Code: 9C2QXFWR+GG

Entry Name: Hartland Abbey

Listing Date: 22 January 1952

Last Amended: 19 June 1989

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1104440

English Heritage Legacy ID: 91219

Location: Hartland, Torridge, Devon, EX39

County: Devon

District: Torridge

Civil Parish: Hartland

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Hartland St Nectan

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Abbey

Find accommodation in


SS 22 SW

3/153 Hartland Abbey (formerly listed
Cloister ruins)


Private country house originally built as an Augustinian Abbey. Founded in circa
1175 as a refoundation of the much older religious community dedicated to St Nectan.
Granted at its Dissolution to William Abbot, Sergeant to the King's Cellar, in 1546.
Since then the house has descended without sale to the present owner Lady Stuckley.
The building as it stands incorporates some C14 and C15 work in the basement and no
doubt parts of its fabric are medieval and C16-C17, particularly the north-west
range; a range of circa 1705 was built by Paul Orchard and a major rebuilding took
place in 1779 initiated by the second Paul Orchard under the direction of the London
Surveyor John Meadows. In the C19 2 further remodellings were undertaken by Sir
George Stuckley in circa 1845 and in 1862, the latter by Sir G G Scott.
Random and coursed stone rubble walls, rendered in places at the rear with
bath/sandstone dressings. Natural slate roof, mainly hipped. Numerous stone rubble
stacks all apparently late C18 and C19.
Plan and development: the confines of this report do not allow for a full discussion
of the original plan of the abbey - Richard Haslan in his Country Life article and R
Pearse Chope in The Book of Hartland give a fuller analysis. The present building
however occupies the site of and probably to some extent incorporates the western
range of the abbey, the abbot's lodging. Various C18 drawings illustrate the
gradual remodelling which took place prior to 1779. The forerunner of the major
late C18 remodelling was the addition by Paul Orchard in the first years of the C18
of an L-shaped block at the south-west end of the building. According to Richard
Haslam when the second Paul Orchard (1739 - 1812) inherited the abbey it was a
rambling building consisting of bedrooms in the medieval north wing connected
through the 2 main rooms - the abbot's chamber and hall which were built over the
west cloister - to the Queen Anne wing at the south. The house then spread on
eastwards with a gallery above the south cloister. The major remodelling undertaken
by Paul Orchard involved the demolition of the parts extending to the east along the
valley and enclosing the remaining medieval building by constructing a corridor on
each floor along the west side bypassing the main 3 first floor rooms and linking
the new row of bedrooms on the floor above this medieval range. The spirit of the
remodelling was very much the Gothick of Batty Langley. No major alterations then
took place until 1845 Sir George Stuckley redecorated the 3 principal front rooms in
a style very similar to the interior of the Palace of Westminster. In 1862 Scott
supervised alterations to the plan comprising the conversion of the central entrance
hall to billiard room and the building of a new outer hall at the north end of the
house which leads diagonally into an inner hall beyond which is a staircase hall and
the long main corridor. The service courtyard to the south of the house appears
also to be C19 although it may replace earlier buildings. Since the C19 the house
has remained largely unaltered.
Exterior: 3 storeys with basement. Eastern elevation is composed of the 1779 new
Gothick front of 3 bays with embattled parapet and central pediment breaking forward
slightly. Large buttress with offsets at each end and a flat band divides the
principal floors. The top floor windows, arranged 3:3:3, are hornless sashes with
narrow glazing bars and intersecting tracery in the head in late C18 2-centred
arched openings. On the piano nobile floor below is a large mid C19 bay at the
centre of each of the outer bays. Both are crenellated and with mullion and transom
windows, the left-hand one is rectangular whereas the right-hand one is canted. To
either side of them are C19 2-light mullion and transom windows. The 3 windows of
the central bay are in openings with 2 centred arched head with recessed surrounds -
the 2 outer ones similar sashes to the floor above but taller, the central one -
formerly a doorway - has a C19 traceried head and 2-light wooden mullion window
below. Extending along the lower ground floor level is a row of fine sandstone
arches with trefoiled heads and circular columns reputed to be re-used from the
abbey cloisters but in suspiciously good condition and corresponding to the fine
sandstone dressings of the C18 and C19 work. At left end of the principal front is
a small 2 storey range also embattled with a corresponding arched head window on
each floor. A lower L-shaped service range extends to its left and returns to the
rear around the service courtyard. At the right-hand end of the principal front is
G G Scott's embattled single storey porch with Gothick arched doorway and stone
mullion and transomed window in right-hand wall with corbelled chimney stack
adjoining it.
The western elevation of the house is roughly symmetrical and comprises a central
recessed 4 window section of 3 storeys with a projecting range of the same height at
either end - the left-hand one slightly large. Projecting again from each of these
and extending beyond to each end is a 2 storey plus attic 4 window wing. All ranges
apart from the outer wing to the left have embattled parapets. The central section
has circa late C19 4 pane sashes as its second floor. Probably late C18 sashes
before with traceried heads but in square openings. On the ground floor are similar
trefoiled arches to those on the east front. These extend around the inner face of
the 2 projecting ranges adjoining, each with a C18 or C19 stone arched doorway
adjoining. Of the 2 outer wings, the right-hand one is the early C18 addition of
the first Paul Orchard. It has a canted full-height bay to left of centre. On its
first floor are circa late C19 4-pane sashes and below are sashes with traceried
heads in square openings. The left-hand wing has a similar arrangement of windows
but with C19 stone mullion windows on the ground floor. The southern elevation of
the house faces the service courtyard with an irregular facade incorporating 4 early
C18 window openings which have moulded sandstone architraves with projecting
keystones. Late C19 4 pane sashes inserted. Large probably later C18 arched
stairlight with traceried head. The service range extends around 2 sides of the
courtyard and has wide open arches on the ground floor and casement windows above
with gables over. The wing returning to the west is probably later and a late C18
or C19 crenellated stone rubble wall extends along the west side enclosing the
Interior: the fine interior is fairly comprehensively described by Richard Haslam in
Country Life. Fragments of the medieval abbey survive in the basement in the form
of arched doorways and the springing possibly for a cloister arch. The early C18
range is fairly complete retaining its good open string staircase with ramped
handrail, square panelled newels and barleytwist balusters. There is also some good
bolection moulded panelling in 2 rooms and a contemporary bolection moulded
chimneypiece with basket grate. Another has an eared architrave and decorative
frieze. A small lobby is also panelled and has a contemporary plaster ceiling of
delicate foliage and well modelled flower and fruit swag. The library is the only
room which preserves its late C18 decoration scheme of arcaded panelling and
chimneypiece with depressed ogee arch. The inner hall of 1862 and the dining room
reuse Elizabethan arcaded panelling which has been painted and gilded. The 3
principal rooms flamboyantly decorated in 1845 have much heavy wood carving in the
form of doorcases and chimneypieces, largely in the Jacobean style, although the
drawing room has earlier style linenfold panelling. The ceilings are of
intersecting moulded beams with carved bosses and decorated panels. The central
room fireplace is made from Maltese stone. The drawing room has a frieze of painted
panels depicting episodes of the Stucley family history. The main passageway was
decorated by Scott with low cross-vaulting which has stencil decoration.
Hartland Abbey has a long and fascinating history and each of its main building
phases is represented to a varying degree with some very good quality interior
features and an imposing late C18 facade.

Listing NGR: SS2406224911

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