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Dawlish College (Mamhead House)

A Grade I Listed Building in Mamhead, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6197 / 50°37'10"N

Longitude: -3.5133 / 3°30'47"W

OS Eastings: 293040

OS Northings: 81092

OS Grid: SX930810

Mapcode National: GBR P1.HYGC

Mapcode Global: FRA 37JF.H32

Plus Code: 9C2RJF9P+VM

Entry Name: Dawlish College (Mamhead House)

Listing Date: 11 November 1952

Last Amended: 2 December 1988

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1170130

English Heritage Legacy ID: 85973

Location: Mamhead, Teignbridge, Devon, EX6

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Mamhead

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Kenton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Find accommodation in


SX 98 SW

5/326 Dawlish College (Mamhead House)
11.11.52 (formerly listed as Mamhead House
with Stable block, Orangery and


Country house, now in use as special school, originally the seat of the Newman
family. 1827-33 by Anthony Salvin for Sir R.W. Newman, Bt. on a ground plan by
Charles Fowler (Hussey). Fine ashlar, Bathstone with gabled slate roofs and chimney
stacks with a lavish variety of ornamental, grouped, Tudor style chimney shafts.
Stylistically remarkable, orchestrating Gothic, Tudor and Renaissance influences in a
highly original way.
Plan: In 1822 Fowler provided Newman with several designs for remodelling old
Mamhead in the Italian palazzo style "a symmetrical plan ......., a grand stair case
on the central axis rising from a lateral corridor in rear of the suite of reception
rooms in the east front. Its plan is thus an E, with the open side at the back
closed by a low range of offices protracted at both ends as wings" (Hussey).
Salvin's plan is essentially the same but is given an asymmetrical guise, firstly by
the choice of a new irregular site which means that the actual symmetry of the plan
is rarely revealed; secondly, by the foil of the castellated stable block (q.v.
separate item), set at an oblique angle to the house and high above it and, thirdly,
by a south west conservatory extension and pavilion. The main E plan facing east, is
entered at the north end into an entrance hall with a billiard room to the east: the
principal rooms facing east off a vaulted corridor are dining room, drawing room, and
library with a south-facing breakfast room at the end of the corridor. The main
stair rises in a west projection off the corridor, opposite a vestibule between the
dining and drawing rooms which gives access to the terrace. The corridor was
conceived as a statue gallery with heroic figures of English Royalty and Worthies and
return at either end, linking up with the service corridor, in the service wing to the
north: thus corridors ring the central courtyard.
Exterior: Very complete down to the extremely ornate down-pipes and rainwater heads.
2 storeys and an attic behind a parapet, embattled to the main range with tall
pinnacles, deep plinth, moulded string course below the parapet and to the first
floor of the main range. Stone mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, transomed to the
main range. Symmetrical 5-bay entrance (north) front with a 2-storey porch in the
centre with a steep gable, moulded Tudor arched doorframe with carved spandrels and
an embatled oriel window with the Newman motto carved below the lights. The north
end of the service wing projects to the front at the right (the kitchen) with a
spectacular: stack with set-offs and corbels and 5 chimney shafts. The east
elevation, with views down to the sea, is 9 bays, symmetrical, with steep gables to
left and right and to the centre, which projects. Embattled 2-storey canted bays to
left and right, the central projecting bay with doorways to each return and
extravagant polygonal buttresses which rise as massive pinnacles with crocketted
finials. The bay is corbelled above the ground floor window; first floor lobed
battlemented oriel window. Symmetrical 5-bay south elevation with 2 gables to the
front and an embattled first floor oriel in the centre. The south-west end of the
service wing returns at the left end but is continued as a splendid single-storey 4-
bay conservatory with moulded Tudor-arched doorways with glazed doors with iron
tracery, the verticals cast to look like slender, buttresses with set-offs. Exquisite
naturalistic flower carving in the spandrels, the parapet carved with a quotation
from Chaucer's Roman de la Rose in Gothic script. The conservatory terminates
in a 2-tier pavilion with iron traceried doors on the south and east sides. The rear
elevation is single-storey in the centre of the service wing with 2-storey embattled
polygonal towers to left and right. Tudor arched doorway into the servant's hall
with a rabbit and goose carved in the spandrels. The stair projection of the main
range has a massive mullioned stair window with 3 transoms.
Interior: Remarkably complete with the exception of the statues by Charles R. Smith
(Gunnis) which were sold in the 1980s. The quality of craftsmanship is of the first
rank and Salvin's attention to detail, including door knobs and hinges, is
meticulous. The survival of original paint and graining, some light fittings, built-
in furniture designed by Salvin and stained glass by Thomas Willement (some
temporarily removed for safety) is notable. Willement was also responsible for the
plumbing. The entrance hall is a single space with the billiard room with a panelled
dado and a decorated ribbed plaster ceiling with fleur, de lis, Tudor roses and
armorial bearings; windows glazed with ornamental leading with white glass. A timber
Gothic screen divides the hall from the billiard room which has a splendid Gothic
chimney-piece, minutely-carved, with painted armorial bearings in relief. The spine
corridor has a coved and vaulted plaster ceiling with traceried panels and bosses,
the details picked out in gold; original oil lamps with ornamental iron brackets;
stained glass by Willement. Tudor arches with panelled soffits lead into the
vestibule (to the east) and the stair (to the west). Presumably plaster, fan-
vaulted, partly-painted ceiling to the stair hall; 24-light stair, window with stained
glass. Splendid stair with one flight dividing into 2 at the landing with a
traceried balustrade, said by Hussey to be cast iron, retaining original paint. The
newels at the bottom are crowned with original oil lamps decorated with brass angels
and foliage. On the stair side the arch into the corridor has carved spandrels and a
carved Gothic text punning on the name Newman; 4-bay arcade at the top of the stairs
into the upper corridor. 2 statues, presumably part of the sequence by Smith, stand
at the bottom of the stair. The vestibule also has a vaulted ceiling and stained
glass window.
The dining room has a panelled dado and decorated plaster ceiling with wood-grained
ribs, fleur de lis and Tudor rose decorations. Fine Gothic chimney-piece wih statue
niches, original (and very early), brightly-coloured encaustic tiles, a Gothic grate
and fender and original paint, including the spandrels which are carved with fruit.
At the north end a free Jacobean style table is built into a panelled recess, the
recess flanked by swags of flowers and grain carved in a late C17 manner. Exquisite
stained glass with naturalistic painting of fruit in the top lights.
The drawing room has a decorated plaster ceiling in an original pattern, loosely
based on Jacobean strapwork but enriched with medallions of painted flowers, panelled
walls; elaborate overdoors and a fine Gothic chimney-piece with a mirror overmantel;
stained glass.
The library has a decorated plaster ceiling, entirely wood-grained, the ribs enriched
with sprays of plaster flowers and leaves. The original fitted book-cases survive
with coving and a cornice carved with animal masks. Gothic chimney-piece with carved
demi-angles, the heads broken off but in safe-keeping with a mirror overmantel
crowned with strapwork. Panelled walls; stained glass. The morning room has a
similar ceiling, carved shelves and a Gothic chimney-piece with delicately carved
figures. The first floor corridor is top-lit with a flat ceiling with panels formed
by moulded ribs with lively carved bosses at the inter.sections. Gothic chimney-
pieces survive in the principal bedrooms.
The service rooms also retain their, original Tudor style chimney-pieces, cornices and
original joinery including bookshelves in the servant's hall with the text; "The
books inscribed with the initials MJN were selected by Mary Jane Newman during the
last days of her life and directed by her to be placed in this Hall for the perusal
and edification of the faithful servants",
The conservatory has a partly-glazed roof carried on moulded tie-beam trusses
(possibly cast iron) with pierced trefoils in the spandrels. The pavilion has a
vaulted plaster ceiling with naturalistically carved flower bosses.
Mamhead House was one of Salvin's first major buildings.
An outstanding Country house, highly original stylistically with craftsmanship of the
first order. The survival of vulnerable original colour: in the interior is
remarkable. ,
Hussey, C. English Country Houses: Late Georgian (1958).
Salvin's original drawings survive in the R.I.B.A. Drawings Collection.

Listing NGR: SX9304081092

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