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Latitude: 50.828 / 50°49'40"N
Longitude: -3.3276 / 3°19'39"W
OS Eastings: 306591
OS Northings: 103998
OS Grid: ST065039
Mapcode National: GBR LQ.X4T0
Mapcode Global: FRA 36XX.9F7
Entry Name: Woodbeer Court Including Front Garden Walls Adjoining to South
Listing Date: 22 February 1955
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1162634
English Heritage Legacy ID: 86892
Location: Plymtree, East Devon, Devon, EX15
District: East Devon
Civil Parish: Plymtree
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
Church of England Parish: Plymtree St John the Baptist
Church of England Diocese: Exeter
ST 00 SE
3/136 Woodbeer Court including front
22.2.55 garden walls adjoining to south
Farmhouse. Late C15 - early C16 with major later C16, C17 and early C18
improvements and minor C19 and C20 modernisations. Plastered cob on stone rubble
footings, the early C18 part is local handmade Flemish bond red brick including some
burnt headers; stone rubble and brick stacks mostly topped with C19 and C20 brick,
although the hall and kitchen stacks have local stone rubble chimneyshafts; roof
variously of wooden shingles, slate and pantiles, formerly thatch.
Plan and development: the house faces south. The main block has a 4-room plan, 2
either side of the entrance hall with the main stair rising behind it. The rooms to
right (east) are larger than the others. They are the principal rooms; first the
former hall with a rear lateral stack, then the principal parlour with a gable-end
stack. A kitchen block projects at right angles to rear, not quite at the end and
overlapping the hall a little. It has a 2-room plan. The first room here is the
largest in the house, the main kitchen with a newel stair turret projecting on the
outer (east) side alongside an axial stack backing onto a second room with a disused
gable-end stack. (There is a service outshot on the rear end.) Back in the main
block to left (west) of the entrance are 2 relatively small unheated rooms. A rear
block projects at right angles behind the left end. The first room here is heated
by an axial stack backing onto the front end room. The space behind the front block
between the rear wings has been built out and accommodates the main stair to right
and a secondary parlour to left, the latter heated by a stack backing onto the rear
block that end. The rest of the rear courtyard is enclosed by agricultural
This is a house with a long and complex structural history. The original late C15 -
early C16 house apparently had a 3-room-and-through-passage plan. The entrance hall
occupies the site of the passage although it was then narrower. The room to left
was the lower end service room. It, the passage and the hall were originally open
to the roof, divided by low partition screens and heated by an open hearth fire.
The inner room end has been so completely rebuilt that there is no evidence apparent
for wnether it was open or 2 storeys. There were undoubtedly major modernisations
through the later C16 and early C17 but a great deal of the evidence has been
removed or hidden by mid C17 and early C18 refurbishments. Nevertheless the hall
stack is mid - late C16 and the hall window suggests that the room floored in the
late C16 - early C17. The kitchen block was added in the mid C17. It seems likely
that the inner room was rebuilt and enlarged as the principal parlour at the same
tune. The main stair and second parlour might be contemporary or a little later.
Then in the early C18 there was a major refurbishment. This involved building the
left and room of the main block, the rear block behind, along with the adjoining
outbuildings (q.v), and extensive modernisations throughout the existing house. At
this time the entrance hall was widened at the expense of the hall, the hall was
given a new flat ceiling, the stair was renewed (and has been remodelled since),
ceilings were plastered and so on. The house is 2 storeys.
Exterior: retains an unusually high proportion of early windows. The front has 4
ground floor windows and 3 first floor windows. The hall window is late C16 - early
C17 painted limestone, 4 lights with hollow-chamfered mullions. The parlour window
and those on the first floor are early C18 oak flat-faced mullion windows. The
other 2 are C20. The entrance hall/former passage front doorway is left of centre
and it contains a probably original oak doorframe, a 4-centred arch with double-
chamfered surround and an ancient plank door with coverstrips and plain strap
hinges. The gabled porch is C19. The roof is hipped to left and gable-ended to
right. The back of the main block (onto the rear courtyard) has an irregular 3-
window front including a mid - late C17 oak 3-light window with ogee-moulded
mullions first floor centre and an early C18 oak flat-faced mullion window to each
floor at the right end. The rear doorway has a mid - late C17 doorframe with
moulded surround. The courtyard side of the kitchen block has a 3-window front and
all but one are original (that is to say early - mid C17) oak-framed windows. They
all have ovolo-moulded mullions and most have transoms; the exception is the small
2-light window central at first floor level which is also the only window in the
whole house to retain diamond panes of leaded glass, some of them green - tinged and
probably original. The kitchen block doorframe is also original; oak with a moulded
surround and urn stops. On the outer side of the kitchen block the newel stair has
an old (if not original) window and the main kitchen window has been replaced
leaving the original moulded oak frame. The other windows and doorways are mostly
C19 although a couple could be early C18.
Interior: is very good, showing mostly the results of the major C17 and early C18
refurbishments as superficially modernised in the C19. In the entrance hall the
left (service) side follows the line of the original passage partition and the
doorway there contains a C17 plank door with a panelled front made up of moulded
coverstrips. The first service end room has a roughly finished crossbeam of
indeterminate date (probably C18). The second parlour behind has no carpentry
detail and the fireplace is blocked but the ceiling has an early C18 moulded plaster
cornice. The rear block room has a chamfered and scroll-stopped crossbeam but the
fireplace here is blocked. The main staircase behind the entrance hall is late C17
although it has been much rebuilt. The hall has a late C16 fireplace built of
sandstone with a chamfered surround. The ceiling structure is early C18; a square-
section crossbeam with up ended plank joists. The upper end crosswall is close-
studded and probably C17. The plaster has an early ornamental plaster ceiling
featuring a double rib oval and including small moulded plaster floral sprigs around
the edges. The fireplace here is blocked by a C19 grate. The carpentry detail of
the kitchen wing is wholly early - mid C17. The crossbeams have deep chamfers with
scroll stops. Both fireplaces are blocked but their large size is evident; the one
in the main kitchen has a cambered or low Tudor arch oak lintel. Also here the
courtyard window has a broad king mullion. It is carved with a decorative pilaster
below a carved scroll-shaped bracket which supports the window lintel. The doorway
from kitchen to parlour is very fine. Its oak frame is richly moulded with large
urn stops. The doorway to the newel stair is a plain crank-headed arch. There is a
great deal of C17 or early C18 joinery detail throughout the house. The chamber
over the first service end room has a small late C16 fireplace; it is limestone
ashlar with a probably replacement oak lintel; its jambs are chamfered with pyramid
The roof includes 3 main phases. The original late C15 - early C16 roof structure
survives over the first service end room, the entrance hall and adjoining part of
the hall. It is of a very unusual form for domestic houses in Devon although
similar roofs do occur in contemporary churches. It is a common rafter truss roof
of relatively slender scantling comprising a series of identical A-frame trusses
with plain arch braces. The only longitudinal member above wall plate level was a
collar purlin which was pegged into the soffits of alternate collars. In short this
is an open wagon roof. There are no original partitions and the roof structure is
smoke-blackened from the original open hearth fire. The roof over the eastern end
of the main block (the upper end of the hall and parlour) is inaccessible.
Nevertheless plastered over jointed cruck trusses can be seen, probably contemporary
with the similar trusses over the kitchen. The western end and rear block roof is
carried on early C18 A-frame trusses with pegged and spiked lap-jointed collars.
The rear block roof continues over the adjoining outbuildings (q.v). All these
trusses have carpenters assembly marks.
From each end of the front early C18 tall brick walls project forward enclosing the
sides of the front garden. Across the front are mid - late C19 iron spear-headed
Woodbeer Court along with the outbuildings (q.v) form a very well-preserved group; a
substantial and prosperous late medieval farmhouse, or small mansion, which was
steadily enlarged and modernised to a high standard through the C16, C17 and early
C18. It has had no major modernisations since. Great care should be undertaken
during any future modernisation lest early carpentry detail be exposed. Moreover
early C18 plaster covers many of the walls and ceilings.
Woodbeer was Widebera in Domesday. It is mentioned in the Testa de Nevil of 1241
and there are other medieval references to the place.
Source: Devon SMR.
Alcock and Hulland. Devonshire Farm Houses. Part IV. Trans Devon Assoc. 104 (1972)
p. 53 - 55 includes measured drawings of the original doorway and roof.
The farmer has a good map of the property dated 1788.
The architects Redfern, Gilpin, and Riley of Exeter have measured plans and external
Listing NGR: ST0659103998
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