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A Grade I Listed Building in Lifton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6598 / 50°39'35"N

Longitude: -4.2905 / 4°17'25"W

OS Eastings: 238201

OS Northings: 86957

OS Grid: SX382869

Mapcode National: GBR NP.7V19

Mapcode Global: FRA 17XB.D8V

Plus Code: 9C2QMP55+WQ

Entry Name: Wortham

Listing Date: 14 June 1952

Last Amended: 7 November 1985

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1164234

English Heritage Legacy ID: 92373

Location: Lifton, West Devon, Devon, PL16

County: Devon

District: West Devon

Civil Parish: Lifton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Tagged with: Building

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2/127 Wortham (formerly listed as Worthand
- Mansion


Manor house. C15, remodelled in the early C16 for the Dinham family, late C20
alterations and renovations for the Landmark Trust. North side of the main range
dressed stone, brought to course, south side of the main range stone rubble, porch
ashlar masonry. Late C20 scantle slate roof gabled at ends, east wing hipped at
south end. 7 stone stacks, those to the main range with late C20 moulded granite
caps: stacks at gable ends and on ridge of main range with 1 lateral stack on north
front, 1 stack on ridge of east wing and 2 adjacent lateral stacks on the east side.
The C15 plan appears to have been an open hall house, probably associated with an end
stack, with an east cross wing. It has been suggested that at one time there was
also a west wing (Oswald). The house was remodelled at an unusually early date for
the County of Devon, in the early C16. The hall was ceiled over and heated from a
lateral stack with access to a heated first floor chamber from a projecting stair
turret on the south side. A 3-stage porch was added on the north side, and the east
wing was extended southwards and probably truncated on the north side. Internally
the ceiling of the parlour, which is below the screens passage, appears to be
contemporary with the early C16 hall ceiling and a first floor plank and muntin full
height partition which divides the room above the hall into 2 also appears to date
from the early C16, as do plank and muntin partitions to the first floor of the east
wing. Access to the first floor rooms in the east wing may have been from a stair
leading up from a lobby on the south east side of the hall. Of the C15 house the
roof of the open hall survives in part and a much restored C15 roof at the north end
of the east wing which may have been the great chamber. Some cusped windows and
an ogee-headed doorway in the east wing are also C15 but may not all be in situ.
The early C16 hall and parlour ceilings, numerous doors and doorways and first floor
screens are largely intact. The parlour was partly refurbished in the late C16/early
C17. C20 alterations have involved a thorough programme of alteration and repair,
the removal of a later addition at the west end, gabling the east wing to the north
and west and extending the wing southwards. 2 storeys. 6 window north front, the
left-hand bay is the gable end of the east wing. Disturbance to masonry suggests
that the east wing may have been a crosswing prior to the C16 remodelling. 3-stage
gabled porch is approximately central to the main range. The lateral hall stack
rises above a late C20 parapet which is on the left-hand side of the main range only.
2-, 3- and 4-light granite mullioned windows with diagonal leaded panes, iron
stanchions and saddle bars throughout. All windows have Tudor arched heads to the
lights except the first floor porch window which has 3 cusped lights and a hoodmould
with carved label stops. All 4-light windows also have hoodmoulds, carved label
stops and king mullions except ground floor left which appears to be a large C20
copy. Grand moulded stone arched doorway to the porch has carved spandrels and an
elaborate tympanum with blind tracery and roundels with star and wheel motifs. The
doorway has an arched hoodmould and carved label stops and is very close in design to
a doorway and the remains of tympana at the Old College, Week St Mary, to which John
Dinham was a feoffee to the deed of endowment. The south side of the main range has
a break in the plinth which may indicate a former wing or the abutment of a wall, and
has only 2 mullioned windows (one of them C20) to the left of the stair turret which
rises above the eavesline under a gabled roof. The turret has canted corners which
are corbelled out at eaves level to support the gabled ashlar top. The turret
masonry is not tied into the south wall but is probably contemporary with adjacent
doorway to the screens passage which is arched and moulded with a square-headed
hoodmould. On the east side of the east wing a pair of lateral stacks, 1 projecting,
heats the kitchen. A reconstructed wide stone porch under a sloping slate roof leads
into the kitchen. One of the 3 first floor mullioned windows has 3 re-sited cusped
lights and may date from the C15 build, the other windows are 2-light with Tudor
arches and hoodmoulds. On the west side a moulded stone arched doorway leads into
the C16 part of the wing, flanked by two 1-light windows, one with a Tudor arch, the
other rectangular. A 1-light Tudor arched window lights the first floor of the early
C16 addition which is marked by a straight joint. In the earlier part of the wing
a 2-light mullioned Tudor arched window lights the lobby while a cusped freestone
window above probably dates from the C15, but may not be in situ.
Interior. Circa mid to late C15 moulded arch braced roof to the former open hall
survives with 3 tiers of moulded stopped purlins and 3 tiers of wind bracing, mostly
replaced. The roof is very similar to that of that at Cotehele. Some ancient colour
to braces and purlins. The solar above the kitchen retains part of a C15 arched
braced roof with 1 tier of wind bracing and square-set purlins. The C16 hall ceiling
is particularly fine with 5 cross beams and all joists moulded with carved foliage
stops. The cross beam stops are large and elaborate and of similar character to the
bosses of the parlour ceiling. The early C16 screen is remarkable for consisting of
3 separate partitions, each with linen fold panelling in a moulded framework crowned
by massive crocketted pinnacles. The sections do not close against the wall and each
partition has been cut off above the sill and the pinnacles have been cut down at top
and bottom to fit under the cross beam. The linenfold panelling has similarities
with French carpentry and presumably the whole screen has been introduced from
elsewhere. The fireplace is an early C20 introduction (Oswald). A recess to the
left of the fireplace may mark the position of the open hall window. The parlour
ceiling bears a marked resemblance to the hall ceiling in some of its details. It is
wholly Gothic in character with moulded timber ribs with carved bosses fixed to C20
boarding. In the circa late C16/early C17 the parlour was partly refurbished with
panelling divided by fluted pilasters and a frieze of carved panels above. The
chimney piece has fluted pilasters with grotesque masks supporting a cornice below a
frieze of round-headed arches with male and female caryatids between. Within the
frieze panels of pots of flowers flank a central double-headed eagle panel. A fine
early C16 arched plank door gives into the parlour from the stair turret. The
principal chamber above the hall is divided from a closet by a 2 tier plank and
muntin partition that rises to the apex of the roof with a moulded rail at wallplate
level mortised for a ceiling that no longer exists. A second plank and muntin
partition divides the closet from the porch chamber and has a 2-light slit window in
it overlooking the entrance from a newel stair rising from the north porch. There
have been some alterations to the screen. The principal chamber is heated at the
left end from the stack that may have been the original open hall stack, with a C16
fireplace with a replaced lintel. The chamber above the parlour also has an early
C16 fireplace, and a narrow closet adjoing this room at the west has 2 round-headed
wall niches and a shallow fireplace with a C15 carved timber lintel. The kitchen has
2 roughly-chamfered cross beams with diagonal stops and a double fireplace, one with
a timber lintel, one with a brick lintel. Several of the early C16 plank and muntin
screens to the first floor of the east wing show traces of ancient colour. The east
wing also has the reused remains of a C17 staircase ballustrade with bobbin balusters
and 1 fine C17 fireplace.
The manor of Wortham passed by marriage from the Wortham family to a cadet branch of
the Dinhams in the reign of Richard II and became the principal seat of the Dinhams
when the main branch of the family died out in 1501. It has been suggested that the
house was originally moated (Oswald). Mid C20 photographs Country Life show the
west lime-washed and without the present north and west gables. Philip Tilden owned the
house in the early C20 and is likely to have been responsible for considerable works
prior to the work by Paul Pearn for the Landmark Trust. The house is a remarkable
survival of a medieval house with a substantial modernisation of the early C16. The
survival of the early C16 plan in combination with a wealth of contemporary joinery
makes this a house of outstanding national importance.
Arthur Oswald, "Wortham Manor, Devon" Country Life, CXIX, pp 1174-1177, 1228-1231.

Listing NGR: SX3820186957

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