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Sydenham House

A Grade I Listed Building in Marystow, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6332 / 50°37'59"N

Longitude: -4.224 / 4°13'26"W

OS Eastings: 242813

OS Northings: 83855

OS Grid: SX428838

Mapcode National: GBR NS.9DTL

Mapcode Global: FRA 271D.G75

Plus Code: 9C2QJQMG+79

Entry Name: Sydenham House

Listing Date: 14 June 1952

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1164731

English Heritage Legacy ID: 92425

Location: Marystow, West Devon, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Marystow

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

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6/183 Sydenham House

Manor house. Circa 1600-1612 built for Sir Thomas Wise (qv parish church)
incorporating parts of an earlier house. Alterations of 1656 for Edward Wise, some
refurbishing of 1698-1709 for the Tremayne family, late C20 repairs and renovations,
some in 1937 by Philip Tilden. Stone rubble with scantle slate roof hipped at south
end and gabled elsewhere with sprocketted eaves. 5 stone stacks; 2 lateral at the
rear (west) side. 1 to the kitchen at the north, 2 to the front projecting wings.
Granite dressings. Symmetrical east-facing E-plan with separately roofed additional
blocks on the north side. The east front has a 2-storey and attic porch and front
projecting north and south wings each having subordinate wings projecting into the
front courtyard. The west side of the main range has a second 2-storey and attic
porch opposed to that on the east front, and a wing gabled to the west, which is
divided between to main stair and closets leading off the main hall and long gallery,
the division marked by an external buttress. The 2 additional blocks on the north of
the E-plan consist of kitchen wing gabled to the north, and a parlour wing gabled to
the north and further gabled to the west in a 3-tier bay. The parlour wing has a
projecting stair turret on the north side. The irregular fenestration of the south
side of the south wing suggests that this may have been the core of the pre C17
house, although Pevsner suggested that the west (garden) front showed evidence of
pre-Reformation masonry. Presumably the basic E-plan and columnar granite mullioned
windows date from the 1600-1612 build which Risdon commented on as being so high that
the "very foundation is ready to reel under the burden". The mid C17 alterations by
Edward Wise were substantial - papers dated 1654 include estimates for "ye building
of my house at Sydenham" and refer to cellars, foundations and timber windows. It
has been suggested that Edward Wise rebuilt or completed the south end of the main
range, but this may have been ruinous in 1831 and the evidence for rebuilding may
date as late as the 1930s work by Philip Tilden. Edward Wise altered the fine
chimney piece to the hall, made some alterations to the stair hall and may have been
responsible for the Ipswich windows in the north and south wings and for some of the
internal woodwork. The 1698-1709 work for the Tremayne family appears to be largely
internal. In the circa 1840s the 3 bays of the south end of the west front were
refenestrated with sash windows. The 1930s work by Philip Tilden appears to have
been substantial and involved replacing 1 bay of the sash windows with stone
mullioned cross windows and the addition of a first floor oriel window on the south
side of the south wing. It would appear that the east wall of the south wing was
also rebuilt in the 1930s, and that an early C18 doorway to the west porch was
replaced with a C15 granite doorway introduced from elsewhere.
2 storeys and attic. Symmetrical E-plan east front with deep north and south front
projecting wings with subsidiary opposed wings projecting into the forecourt. 3-bay
main range, north and south wings also 3-bay. The 2-storey porch and 4 wings have
plastered gables. Ground floor and first floor windows mostly regular 4-light early
C17 granite mullioned windows with high transoms with hoodmoulds and C20 leaded
panes. The first floor windows of the east ends of the north and south wings have
striking, 1654 (Oswald) timber windows similar to those at Sparrows House, Ipswich
They are adaptations of a 4-light ovolo-moulded cross window design with a timber
semi-circular head in the upper middle 2-lights with spoke-leading in the semi-
circle. The gable windows above them are Venetian with a central arched light set in
a rectangular architrave flanked by 2 lower lights. 2 storey early C17 central
projecting gabled porch fronted with ashlar masonry with a segmental arched moulded
early C17 doorway with carved spandrels flanked by Roman Doric columns on tall
rectangular plinths with a flush triglyph frieze below a projecting moulded cornice.
Above the cornice, set in a rectangular recess with a moulded barley sugar architrave
is the armorial bearings of the Wise family in plaster with a plaster achievement and
sculptural plaster mantling. Some ancient colour survives. Above the recess is a 4-
light granite mullioned cross window, gable window is a 2-light timber casement with
leaded panes. The north wing has two 2-light mullioned stair windows immediately to
the west of the subsidiary wing. Both subsidiary wings have timber rectangular gable
windows with a diamond-shaped light and diagonal leaded panes. The (west) garden
front is asymmetrical with a central 3-stage gabled porch, slate-hung in the gable.
To the left of the porch is a 2-bay gabled wing with sprocketted eaves, also slate-
hung in the gable that oversails the bay corners. The 2 southernmost bays of the
garden front have 12-pane sashes; all other ground and first floor windows are 1- 2-
and 4-light granite mullioned windows throughout, those to the kitchen wing are 6-
light cross windows with king mullions. A north entrance leads into a passage
between the kitchen and the parlour. A further probably C16 arched granite doorway
leads into the parlour stair turret and is half-blocked by a C20 chimney. The south
side of the south wing has scattered fenestration of 2- and 4-light granite mullioned
windows with high transoms, considerable evidence of rebuilding and blocked openings.
The 1937 ground floor oriel on the left-hand has a conical slate roof and transomed
mullioned lights.
Interior. The opposed east and west entrances lead directly into the south end of
the hall, the screen no longer exists. The hall has a lateral fireplace with a
chimney piece with Roman Ionic columns and an entablature, this probably dates from
the 1600-1612 build and was crowned in 1656 by a dated segmental broken pediment with
the arms of Edward Wise and his wife with a crest and elaborate mantling. The
figures of Adam and Eve lie on the pediment The pediment has been repainted in the
C20. Leading off the hall into half of the wing that also contains the main stair is
a small room heated from the main hall stack with a stone fireplace. The room was
fitted out with a bedstead in an inventory of 1649 when it was described as the
"Orrell". The panelled wainscot to the hall is divided by fluted pilasters and has a
strapwork frieze above, it may date from the early C17 work of Sir Thomas Wise, or
may have been introduced by Edward Wise. Full-height panelling divided by fluted
pilasters and crowned by a cornice broken forward over the pilasters fills the north
and south walls of the hall and dates from circa 1700, with contemporary panelled
doors. The main stair is early C17 with 2 dog-leg flights broken by 2 landings. The
elaborately carved pierced balusters are angled to the flights and vertical to the
landings and repeated on the wall side. A male and female term applied to 2 of the
newels may not be original to the stair but are probably contemporary in date. The
flat moulded handrail is interrupted by large square section newels crowned by flat-
topped volute finials. The stair hall ceiling is divided into 2, the plaster ceiling
to the west is Adam style and is said to have replaced a painted ceiling. To the
east the decorated plaster ceiling is circa 1660 (Devon Period Three, French) and
presumably for Edward Wise with pomegranates enriching a central oval linked to a
similar pomegranate border. A plaster wall frieze consists of shields linked by
festoons, all in high relief. 3 contemporary doors leading off the upper landing
have strapwork panelling and are crowned with pediments. The parlour panelling is
particularly fine. Corinthian pilasters divide the wainscot which has a moulded
cornice above a frieze of incised arabesques filled with what is probably gesso,
picking out the pattern in white. A second frieze below consists of similar patterns
framed by round-headed arches. The overmantel is a more elaborate version of this
double frieze. The rooms above the parlour and kitchen have circa early C17
panelling with some fine cockshead hinges to the doors. The heated long gallery
above the hall has closets opening off on the west side and a panelled wainscot
divided by fluted pilasters. A decorated plaster ceiling was probably once fixed to
the 3 chamfered cross beams. In circa 1700 the gallery was partitioned off at the
south end forming 2 additional rooms with panelling of circa 1700 which has been
stripped of paint. The southernmost room has a contemporary fireplace, the adjoining
room preserves its early C17 fireplace, the original long gallery having been heated
at 2 points. The 2 ground floor rooms the south of the hall room have circa 1700
panelling with some adaptations by Philip Tilden in the 1930s. The north and south
wings have circa early C17 dog-leg staircases with turned balusters, some of the
first floor rooms to the wings have bolection-moulded panelling, some have early C17
panelling. The kitchen has a massive stone double fireplace with chamfered
segmental arches.
Sir Thomas Wise was created Knight of the Bath at the coronation of James I and
sheriff of Devon in 1612. His grandson, Edward Wise came to live at Sydenham in 1654
and in 1694 the estate passed by marriage to the Tremayne family and remained in
Tremayne hands until the 1930s. In a letter from Anna Bray to Robert Southey the
condition of "one wing" of the house in 1831 was described as "in a very ruinous
condition". Photographs of circa 1900 in the possession of the present owner show
the screens passage marked by a tripartite colonnade screen of Greek Doric columns,
probably contemporary with the 1700 panelling in the hall. The house is a remarkable
survival of an ambitious early C17 building with little visible alteration after
about 1700.
A. Oswald, "Sydenham House", Country Life, June 28th, 1956, pp 1420-1423
Mrs Bray, Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire on the
Borders of the Tamar and the Tave ... in a series of letters to Robert
Southey Esq., (1838), Vol. III

Listing NGR: SX4281383855

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