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Holcombe Court

A Grade I Listed Building in Holcombe Rogus, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9629 / 50°57'46"N

Longitude: -3.3461 / 3°20'46"W

OS Eastings: 305561

OS Northings: 119025

OS Grid: ST055190

Mapcode National: GBR LQ.ML3M

Mapcode Global: FRA 36WK.N6S

Entry Name: Holcombe Court

Listing Date: 24 October 1951

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1168134

English Heritage Legacy ID: 95970

Location: Holcombe Rogus, Mid Devon, Devon, TA21

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon

Civil Parish: Holcombe Rogus

Built-Up Area: Holcombe Rogus

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Holcombe Rogus All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Listing Text

HOLCOMBE ROGUS HOLCOMBE ROGUS
ST 01 NE
5/123 Holcombe Court
-
24.10.51
GV
I
Mansion, the finest Tudor house in Devon. Early C16, partly rebuilt in the mid C16,
major late C16 modernisations, some late C17 modernisations. It was built for the
Bluett family who lived there until 1857. It was then brought by the Reverend W.
Rayer who largely rebuilt the service wings and extensively modernised the rest
between 1859 - 63. Local grey-coloured limestone laid to rough courses, the mid C19
work of larger and more carefully squared blocks of the same stone; Beerstone and
Hamstone detail; local limestone stacks and chimneyshafts; slate roofs.
Plan and development: large courtyard plan house built next to the Church of All
Saints (q.v) and in its own grounds overlooking the main street of Holcombe Rogus.
The main block faces south-east and it is the historic core of the house. It has a
3-room-and-through-passage plan with a tower-like 4-storey porch in front of the
doorway. The porch has a broad newel stair turret in the angle of porch and main
block. This and the service end of the main block are early C16. The double-height
hall has a projecting rear lateral stack. At the upper end the main stair is housed
in its own block projecting to rear in a corner of the courtyard. Inner room
parlour or dining room at the right (north-east) end of the main block. It and the
principal chamber above have a gable-end stack. The long gallery runs across the
top of the passage, hall and parlour chamber. This section was probably built circa
1550-1560. So too was the north-east wing but this was modernised in the mid C19.
The service end of the main block was modernised in the mid or late C16 at which
time the original service arrangement was altered and the chamber above (the Court
Room) refurbished. The rest of the house was largely rebuilt in the C19. A new
main staircase and library was built in the south-west wing and the north-west wing
contains a full height kitchen and the service rooms. Most of the rooms are heated
by either lateral or axial stacks.
In the older parts the precise historical development of the house is not clear.
This is partly because the C19 modernisation was carried out in Tudor style and
reused old material, but even where the work is original the evidence can be
confusing. For instance, the long gallery is dated circa 1550 - 1560 because it
includes the name of Roger Bluett who died in 1566. If so it is the earliest
ornamental plasterwork known in Devon. On the other hand it could commemorate the
death of Sir Roger Bluett. Also the ornamental plasterwork in the Court Room is
dated 1591 but this may only date the overmantel. The ceiling looks as if it could
be earlier.
For the main part the house is 2 storeys.
Exterior: the front is particularly impressive. It is dominated by the showpiece
entrance tower. It has set back buttresses and embattled parapet, a large 4-centred
outer arch with moulded surround and, above it, a canted bay window is corbelled out
and carried up all 3 of the upper storeys. A stone plaque containing the Bluett
arms is set below the lowest of these windows. The windows of the tower, its stair
turret and the left end are stone-mullioned with Tudor arched heads; early C16 in
character. Those of the hall and inner room end, to right of the tower, are also
stone mullioned but here have square-headed lights, some are ovolo-moulded. There
are 2 enormous 6-light windows with central transoms to the hall. The inner room
bay window is a replacement of 1975 but the chamber above has a 4-light window with
upper transom and hoodmould. Moulded eaves cornice below a parapet from which rise
2 large gables from the long gallery. Each contains a central 4-light window
flanked by tiny 2-light windows and with, another directly above. The top ones are
above ceiling level and there purely for effect. Both gables have fleur-de-lys
finials. The fenestration around the rest of the house is similar in style,
including those in the C19 blocks. The rear elevation, for instance, includes a
pair of tall windows to the kitchen. The rear of the hall shows the blocking of a
full height window. There is, on top of the entrance tower, a short length of C16
ornamental lead guttering.
Good interior: the hall is mid C19 Tudor with C19 oak screen, fireplace and ribbed
ceiling. The plasterwork maybe based on the original; ( some plaster moulds are
stored in the house). On the lower side of the passage are 4 early C16 pointed arch
doorways, one to the entrance tower stair, the other 3 a conventional service
arrangement and one contains an interesting studded plank door with folding flaps.
The service end was rearranged in the mid or late C16. The right 2 doorways now
lead into a narrow corridor parallel with the main passage and beyond the corridor a
well-appointed chamber, traditionally known as the Judges Room. It and the corridor
has an ornamental plaster cornice and the room is lined with circa 1700 large field
bolection panelling. The Court Room above is particularly well-appointed. Its high
ceiling has an ornamental ceiling of moulded plasterwork, a geometric plan of single
ribs ornamented only by moulded bosses and a central pendant. Around the side walls
the ribs converge and descend a short distance down the wall like a series of half
engaged pendants. There are floral sprays between. This ornamental plasterwork
looks early and somewhat similar to the possibly mid C16 plasterwork the other end.
There is a plasterwork frieze around the room, a repeating strapwork motif which
contains the date 1591 on the chimney breast. This is certainly associated with the
splendid moulded plaster overmantel which features the Bluett arms. This
plasterwork has been described in some detail to illustrate the dating problems in
the house. However, since the house is relativly well-known (see below) only the
best of the other C16 and C17 features are mentioned here.
The Court Room is lined with circa 1700 bolection panelling. One doorway leads off
to the tower stair close to the first floor room there, the Muniment Room. Its
doorway is richly carved and interior is lined with high quality late C16 small
flew oak panelling featuring a frieze of carved scenes, and including a
contemporary muniment cupboard. The room above has plainer panelling and a simple
moulded plaster overmantel featuring the arms of Elizabeth Chichester (wife of
Richard Bluett, she died in 1614). The library in the south-west wing has perhaps
the most elaborate intersecting beam ceiling in Devon; it is early C16 but was reset
here in the C19. The doorway from the hall to the inner room parlour is a C19
insertion. It was originally entered from the stair block. The parlour has an
ornamental plaster ceiling which appears to cover another intersecting beam ceiling.
Good late C16-early C17 small field oak panelling around the room including a fine
oak chimneypiece divided into 3 bays by pairs of fluted Ionic pilasters. The main
stair rises round a masonry core, its ceiling enriched with simple rib pattern of
plasterwork from circa 1550 - 1560. The chamber over the parlour has a moulded
plaster ceiling of the same date (it uses identical motifs to the Long Gallery
ceiling). The ornamental plasterwork chimneypiece here however is probably
secondary, late C16. It is of very good quality but given charm for its rustic
craftsmanship; it features Moses and the brazen serpent in a strapwork cartouche.
The Long Gallery is the grandest in Devon, and its ornamental plaster ceiling is
crucial to the dating and development of Devonshire plasterwork. It is flat with
coved corners down to a narrow frieze of arabesques. Its ornamentation comprises
longitudual moulded ribs dividing to create pointed panels in which are set moulded
plaster motifs such as the Tudor Rose, 'snowflake' bosses and the initials spelling
Roger Bluett (d.1566). The gallery also includes 9 tiny rooms each with an
individual plank door off-the gallery. Another at the top of the stairs is a little
larger than the others and has a simple rib design on its ceiling. The stair also
contains a C17 dog gate, 3 tiers of turned balusters. The roof structure over the
Long Gallery, plain A-frames on tie beams, is apparently contemporary with the
ceiling. The north-east wing roof is probably the same date, a series of arch-
braced trusses.
Holcombe Court is spectacularly attractive, both in itself and also in a group of
attractive buildings at the top end of Holcombe Rogus. As the only C16 mansion of
this size to survive in Devon it is also of great importance to the understanding of
Tudor plan forms and decoration in the south-west.
Sources: the owner has the C19 plans of the house. NMR includes some measured
architectural plans of several features.
Penguin Buildings of England Series ed.Bridget Cherry, Devon. (forthcoming).
E. Marsh Phillips, Holcombe Court, Devonshire, Country Life Vol. XXXVII (1915) pp 48
-53.
Andrew Gabriel and Barbara Fletcher, A Short History of Holcombe Rogus (1978).


Listing NGR: ST0555119024

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

Description

HOLCOMBE ROGUS HOLCOMBE ROGUS
ST 01 NE
5/123 Holcombe Court
-
24.10.51
GV
I
Mansion, the finest Tudor house in Devon. Early C16, partly rebuilt in the mid C16,
major late C16 modernisations, some late C17 modernisations. It was built for the
Bluett family who lived there until 1857. It was then brought by the Reverend W.
Rayer who largely rebuilt the service wings and extensively modernised the rest
between 1859 - 63. Local grey-coloured limestone laid to rough courses, the mid C19
work of larger and more carefully squared blocks of the same stone; Beerstone and
Hamstone detail; local limestone stacks and chimneyshafts; slate roofs.
Plan and development: large courtyard plan house built next to the Church of All
Saints (q.v) and in its own grounds overlooking the main street of Holcombe Rogus.
The main block faces south-east and it is the historic core of the house. It has a
3-room-and-through-passage plan with a tower-like 4-storey porch in front of the
doorway. The porch has a broad newel stair turret in the angle of porch and main
block. This and the service end of the main block are early C16. The double-height
hall has a projecting rear lateral stack. At the upper end the main stair is housed
in its own block projecting to rear in a corner of the courtyard. Inner room
parlour or dining room at the right (north-east) end of the main block. It and the
principal chamber above have a gable-end stack. The long gallery runs across the
top of the passage, hall and parlour chamber. This section was probably built circa
1550-1560. So too was the north-east wing but this was modernised in the mid C19.
The service end of the main block was modernised in the mid or late C16 at which
time the original service arrangement was altered and the chamber above (the Court
Room) refurbished. The rest of the house was largely rebuilt in the C19. A new
main staircase and library was built in the south-west wing and the north-west wing
contains a full height kitchen and the service rooms. Most of the rooms are heated
by either lateral or axial stacks.
In the older parts the precise historical development of the house is not clear.
This is partly because the C19 modernisation was carried out in Tudor style and
reused old material, but even where the work is original the evidence can be
confusing. For instance, the long gallery is dated circa 1550 - 1560 because it
includes the name of Roger Bluett who died in 1566. If so it is the earliest
ornamental plasterwork known in Devon. On the other hand it could commemorate the
death of Sir Roger Bluett. Also the ornamental plasterwork in the Court Room is
dated 1591 but this may only date the overmantel. The ceiling looks as if it could
be earlier.
For the main part the house is 2 storeys.
Exterior: the front is particularly impressive. It is dominated by the showpiece
entrance tower. It has set back buttresses and embattled parapet, a large 4-centred
outer arch with moulded surround and, above it, a canted bay window is corbelled out
and carried up all 3 of the upper storeys. A stone plaque containing the Bluett
arms is set below the lowest of these windows. The windows of the tower, its stair
turret and the left end are stone-mullioned with Tudor arched heads; early C16 in
character. Those of the hall and inner room end, to right of the tower, are also
stone mullioned but here have square-headed lights, some are ovolo-moulded. There
are 2 enormous 6-light windows with central transoms to the hall. The inner room
bay window is a replacement of 1975 but the chamber above has a 4-light window with
upper transom and hoodmould. Moulded eaves cornice below a parapet from which rise
2 large gables from the long gallery. Each contains a central 4-light window
flanked by tiny 2-light windows and with, another directly above. The top ones are
above ceiling level and there purely for effect. Both gables have fleur-de-lys
finials. The fenestration around the rest of the house is similar in style,
including those in the C19 blocks. The rear elevation, for instance, includes a
pair of tall windows to the kitchen. The rear of the hall shows the blocking of a
full height window. There is, on top of the entrance tower, a short length of C16
ornamental lead guttering.
Good interior: the hall is mid C19 Tudor with C19 oak screen, fireplace and ribbed
ceiling. The plasterwork maybe based on the original; ( some plaster moulds are
stored in the house). On the lower side of the passage are 4 early C16 pointed arch
doorways, one to the entrance tower stair, the other 3 a conventional service
arrangement and one contains an interesting studded plank door with folding flaps.
The service end was rearranged in the mid or late C16. The right 2 doorways now
lead into a narrow corridor parallel with the main passage and beyond the corridor a
well-appointed chamber, traditionally known as the Judges Room. It and the corridor
has an ornamental plaster cornice and the room is lined with circa 1700 large field
bolection panelling. The Court Room above is particularly well-appointed. Its high
ceiling has an ornamental ceiling of moulded plasterwork, a geometric plan of single
ribs ornamented only by moulded bosses and a central pendant. Around the side walls
the ribs converge and descend a short distance down the wall like a series of half
engaged pendants. There are floral sprays between. This ornamental plasterwork
looks early and somewhat similar to the possibly mid C16 plasterwork the other end.
There is a plasterwork frieze around the room, a repeating strapwork motif which
contains the date 1591 on the chimney breast. This is certainly associated with the
splendid moulded plaster overmantel which features the Bluett arms. This
plasterwork has been described in some detail to illustrate the dating problems in
the house. However, since the house is relativly well-known (see below) only the
best of the other C16 and C17 features are mentioned here.
The Court Room is lined with circa 1700 bolection panelling. One doorway leads off
to the tower stair close to the first floor room there, the Muniment Room. Its
doorway is richly carved and interior is lined with high quality late C16 small
flew oak panelling featuring a frieze of carved scenes, and including a
contemporary muniment cupboard. The room above has plainer panelling and a simple
moulded plaster overmantel featuring the arms of Elizabeth Chichester (wife of
Richard Bluett, she died in 1614). The library in the south-west wing has perhaps
the most elaborate intersecting beam ceiling in Devon; it is early C16 but was reset
here in the C19. The doorway from the hall to the inner room parlour is a C19
insertion. It was originally entered from the stair block. The parlour has an
ornamental plaster ceiling which appears to cover another intersecting beam ceiling.
Good late C16-early C17 small field oak panelling around the room including a fine
oak chimneypiece divided into 3 bays by pairs of fluted Ionic pilasters. The main
stair rises round a masonry core, its ceiling enriched with simple rib pattern of
plasterwork from circa 1550 - 1560. The chamber over the parlour has a moulded
plaster ceiling of the same date (it uses identical motifs to the Long Gallery
ceiling). The ornamental plasterwork chimneypiece here however is probably
secondary, late C16. It is of very good quality but given charm for its rustic
craftsmanship; it features Moses and the brazen serpent in a strapwork cartouche.
The Long Gallery is the grandest in Devon, and its ornamental plaster ceiling is
crucial to the dating and development of Devonshire plasterwork. It is flat with
coved corners down to a narrow frieze of arabesques. Its ornamentation comprises
longitudual moulded ribs dividing to create pointed panels in which are set moulded
plaster motifs such as the Tudor Rose, 'snowflake' bosses and the initials spelling
Roger Bluett (d.1566). The gallery also includes 9 tiny rooms each with an
individual plank door off-the gallery. Another at the top of the stairs is a little
larger than the others and has a simple rib design on its ceiling. The stair also
contains a C17 dog gate, 3 tiers of turned balusters. The roof structure over the
Long Gallery, plain A-frames on tie beams, is apparently contemporary with the
ceiling. The north-east wing roof is probably the same date, a series of arch-
braced trusses.
Holcombe Court is spectacularly attractive, both in itself and also in a group of
attractive buildings at the top end of Holcombe Rogus. As the only C16 mansion of
this size to survive in Devon it is also of great importance to the understanding of
Tudor plan forms and decoration in the south-west.
Sources: the owner has the C19 plans of the house. NMR includes some measured
architectural plans of several features.
Penguin Buildings of England Series ed.Bridget Cherry, Devon. (forthcoming).
E. Marsh Phillips, Holcombe Court, Devonshire, Country Life Vol. XXXVII (1915) pp 48
-53.
Andrew Gabriel and Barbara Fletcher, A Short History of Holcombe Rogus (1978).


Listing NGR: ST0555119024

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