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Downes House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Merton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8915 / 50°53'29"N

Longitude: -4.0921 / 4°5'31"W

OS Eastings: 252956

OS Northings: 112312

OS Grid: SS529123

Mapcode National: GBR KP.S369

Mapcode Global: FRA 269R.CLS

Entry Name: Downes House

Listing Date: 4 October 1960

Last Amended: 16 February 1989

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1147488

English Heritage Legacy ID: 91771

Location: Merton, Torridge, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

District: Torridge

Civil Parish: Merton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Merton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Listing Text

SS 5212
22/156 Downes House, (formerly listed as
4.10.60 Down's Farmhouse)


House formerly farmhouse. Circa 1500 extensively remodelled and extended in early to
mid C17 with C19 addition. Plastered cob and rubble walls. Gable ended asbestos
slate roof. Large rubble stack at left gable end, brick stack at right gable end and
lateral brick stack at front.
Plan: Presently 3 rooms with staircase in position of cross passage and small wing
and outshut at rear. The house originated as an open hall with central hearth with a
through passage and long lower room to the right, probably divided only by low
partitions. In the early to mid C17 a heavy remodelling and upgrading of the house
took place, probably in stages, which involved the addition of an inner room at the
higher end of the hall and a small wing behind the lower room, there may also have
been a stair projection at the rear of the hall which has been absorbed by a later
outshut. The house was made 2 storeys throughout, a front lateral stack built onto
the hall with an adjoining window bay and gable end stacks added at either end which
also had first floor fireplaces. All the ground floor rooms became heated apart from
that in the rear wing which appears to have been an unheated service room. The lower
room was evidently a parlour so either the hall or inner room must have functioned as
a kitchen. The outshut adjoining it is probably a C19 addition and the stairs
inserted into the passage are likely to be a similar date.
Exterior: 2 storeys. Asymmetrical 4 window front of circa mid C20 3-light
casements. To left of centre wall projects slightly to incorporate the lateral hall
stack and its window bay. Circa early C20 gabled porch with arched doorway to right
of centre. Behind it is a C17 double ovolo moulded wooden doorframe with a 6-
panelled C19 door. The rear elevation of the house has an outshut to the right a
wide hipped roof wing to the left of centre. Adjoining the house on its north-
elevation (rear) corner is a short section of wall which re-uses a C17 ovolo-moulded
doorframe that must once have been inside the house.
Good interior: Lower room to right has good C17 plaster overmantle with central
heraldic shield, a female figure to either side, and typical Jacobean strapwork
surround with cornice above. The fireplace retains its dressed stone jambs but its
lintel has been replaced. A C19 inserted fireplace adjoins it. At the rear of the
lower room is a C17 moulded wooden doorframe with vase stops. There is a C17 plank
door with bead mouldings leading to the cupboard under the stairs - from this it can
be seen that the hall/passage partition is a plank and muntin screen although it is
plastered over elsewhere. The hall fireplace has been reduced in width but retains
its rough wooden lintel, chamfered with bar stops. At the rear of the hall is a
doorway reached by a step up with C17 ovolo moulded frame and good quality
contemporary panelled door. Fireplace in left-hand room is mainly plastered over but
has a chamfered wooden lintel and oven in left-hand side. On the first floor the
landing above the stairs and lower room has a moulded C17 plaster cornice. The first
floor room of the wing has a C17 moulded wooden doorframe with vase stops. The
chamber over the lower room has a moulded wooden lintel and plaster overmantle with
oval plaque which has a mermaid at the centre, a winged mermaid either side and a
mask at the top. The first floor room at the other end also has a C17 fireplace with
ovolo-moulded wooden lintel and plaster overmantle in stylised strapwork design with
central shield in square panel.
Roof: 2 medieval trusses survive over the hall and lower side of passage - they are
probably raised crucks and have morticed cranked collars, threaded purlins and ridge.
Most of the common rafters and battens survive and the whole structure is heavily
smoke-blackened. The roof over the lower end has been replaced but one purlin
extends through and is more lightly smoke-blackened. The cob wall at the higher end
is smoke-blackened on the hall side.
The house is important as an interesting C17 remodelling of a late medieval house and
because of the surviving medieval fabric and high quality C17 features.

Listing NGR: SS5295612312

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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