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Coach and Horses House

A Grade II Listed Building in Swimbridge, Devon

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Latitude: 51.0521 / 51°3'7"N

Longitude: -3.9679 / 3°58'4"W

OS Eastings: 262162

OS Northings: 129929

OS Grid: SS621299

Mapcode National: GBR KV.G4LN

Mapcode Global: FRA 26KB.RYT

Plus Code: 9C3R322J+VR

Entry Name: Coach and Horses House

Listing Date: 18 March 1986

Last Amended: 4 August 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1107641

English Heritage Legacy ID: 98695

ID on this website: 101107641

Location: Swimbridge, North Devon, EX32

County: Devon

District: North Devon

Civil Parish: Swimbridge

Built-Up Area: Swimbridge

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Swimbridge St James the Apostle

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Building

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House, originating in the C16, with a first floor inserted in the C17. Extended with ancillary structures, and used as a public house from the mid-C19. Main range partially rebuilt in mid-C20.


House, originating in the C16, with a first floor inserted in the C17. Extended with ancillary structures, and used as a public house from the mid-C19. Main range partially rebuilt in mid-C20.

MATERIALS: largely cob to the ground floor, with sections of blockwork and brick. First floor walls rebuilt in concrete block. Mostly rendered in sand and cement, with ancillary ranges in stone. Concrete roof tiles and brick chimneystacks, partially rebuilt.

PLAN: the building stands set back on the north side of the road through the village. It occupies an irregular footprint, with a linear main range orientated roughly east-west, with adjoining ancillary ranges to the east and south. The main range is a three-cell cross passage plan, with an additional bay added to east end.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation faces south; it is two storeys and six window bays. There is a wide external lateral chimneystack with offsets roughly in the middle of the elevation, with a small window in the position of a former bread oven. Windows were largely replaced with sliding sashes during the 1936 refurbishment. An additional opening was inserted to the far left in the 1953 phase of works. The upper floor was largely rebuilt, though replicates the window arrangement to the right of the stack. A mono-pitched outbuilding of stone and brick projects from the south-east corner of the elevation; it has a wide doorway and casement windows.

The north elevation is largely blind. There is a shallow projection, previously interpreted as a stair tower, possibly related to an earlier building, which appears to have been largely rebuilt in the 1953 phase of works. To the left is a second shallow projection with a long sloping roof, latterly used as a coal store. An outshut, possibly used as a smithy, abuts the east end of the north elevation; it has a rendered chimneystack and metal casement window. A mono-pitched stone range adjoins to the east, and has a doorway and a pair of timber casements. Another stone mono-pitched range, now the kitchen, adjoins the east gable of the main range.

INTERIOR: the front door of the building leads into the original cross passage, with the main hall to the right. The screen separating the cross passage has been removed, evidenced through the vacant mortises of the cross beam. The joists above the passage largely survive, with some reconfiguration, and are understood to have projected into the hall to provide a jettied room above; they may survive within the boxed-in section, understood to conceal a reinforcing RSJ. The rear opening to the cross passage has a ledge and plank door in a chamfered surround. The former open hall has a deep cross-beam with chamfering and a stop to the south end; the north end is degraded. Joists support the floor above and rest on the jetty bressummers on either side. There is a wide inglenook with a deep bressummer; it has a brick hearth, seats and a small window in the location of a probable former bread oven. A plank and muntin screen separates the former inner room of the hall house. The screen has deeply chamfered muntins, and the infill panels have been truncated to form openings from the bar servery. A doorway has been inserted to the left; the original opening to the far left has been blocked, though the moulded head of the door casing is visible within the under-stair cupboard. The floor level within this central area has been lowered.

The adjacent room to the west retains its wide chimneybreast with bressummer, and has a two-panel door which has lost its strap hinges. The principle transverse beam to the room has been replaced and supported is on piers. The bay to the east has an early-C20 stove built into a wide stack. To the east, the room used as a kitchen, possibly a cold store, has flagstone floor and a row of hooks to the lower purlin. The room to the north has a large fireplace with a bread oven; its doorway has jambs hollowed out to admit cider/beer barrels The narrow room to the west, once a coal store, has a blocked opening from the hall, and a deep niche to the north wall. The north-eastern dining room has bonding timbers visible within the walls and around the openings; the mono-pitched roof structure has been replaced

To the south of the main range is the former covered yard. Originally mono-pitched, it has a deep ridge piece, with rafters resting on the wall plate. The covered yard was extended east-wards in the late C20.


Coach and Horses House originated as a C16 open hall house. It appears to have had three-bays with a cross passage, with the open hall being the central bay, and an inner room separated by a plank and muntin screen. Jettying at this end suggests there was a solar above. The 1986 list description notes jettying on the opposite side of the room; this is not visible though may survive encased by the boxing. The floor above the central hall is likely to have been inserted in the C17. The building had been converted to a public house by the mid-C19, and reverted to a domestic residence in the C20.

A structure is shown on the Tithe map of 1846 and described as ‘houses, &c’, with orchards to the east, and is said to have been known as Swimbridge Town Tenement. It became the Coach and Horses Inn before 1851, evidenced by a reference in the in the North Devon Journal. The first edition of the Ordnance Survey, published in 1889 shows the building with roughly the same footprint, and a Conveyance document of 1892 describes a dwelling house and small garden to the front and the east, previously called Swimbridge Town Tenement, now used as public house. Ancillary structures adjoining the principal building had a variety of uses; initially there was a smithy, followed by slaughterhouse, and then a brew house.

The pub was bought by the local brewery Starkey Knight and Ford in 1936. Improvements to the building around that time included a new chimneystack to provide a fireplace in the eastern parlour, the insertion of new window openings and the replacement of a number of casements with sashes. The brewhouse would have ceased operation at this time.

A fire in 1953 resulted in damage to the roof structure, then covered with thatch. The subsequent repair of the building involved the demolition of the roof and most of the cob walls to the first floor, and a section of the ground floor. These were then rebuilt in concrete block. Chimneystacks were preserved and partially rebuilt above the eaves.

Reasons for Listing

Coach and Horses House is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* despite the loss of the upper floor above the main range, the building remains legible as an evolved hall house, retaining significant features including the truncated plank and muntin screen, the inglenook fireplace, and the substantial ceiling structures;
* the original open hall plan form, with its cross passage and inner room is still readable, and the later inserted floors and chimneystack illustrates its evolution;
* ancillary structures, now in domestic use, illustrate the development of the building complex and its associated historic uses.

Historic interest:

* the building is representative of changing patterns of occupation and small-scale industry from the C16 to the C20.

External Links

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