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Latitude: 50.7379 / 50°44'16"N
Longitude: -3.3737 / 3°22'25"W
OS Eastings: 303162
OS Northings: 94044
OS Grid: SY031940
Mapcode National: GBR P5.9SKY
Mapcode Global: FRA 37T4.9GP
Entry Name: Rockbeare Manor Including Terraces Adjoining to South
Listing Date: 11 November 1952
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1203803
English Heritage Legacy ID: 352436
Location: Rockbeare, East Devon, Devon, EX5
District: East Devon
Civil Parish: Rockbeare
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
Church of England Parish: Rockbeare St Mary with St Andrew
Church of England Diocese: Exeter
SY 09 SW ROCKBEARE RAG LANE
3/114 Rockbeare Manor including
- terraces adjoining to south
Large country house. Mid C18, improved circa 1770, remodelled circa 1820 and south
wing altered circa 1920 by architect Marley Horder. Stucco on brick and brick
stacks with plastered chimney shafts; slate roofs.
U-shaped house. Main block faces south and includes a large central heated entrance
lobby with full height curving front bays and end stacks. From each end rear blocks
project at right angles. The south wing has a corridor along the inner side past 2 2
rooms separated by a circa 1920 cross passage to a front door and at the end is the
large dining room with full height curving bows on each side. The northern rear
wing extends back the same distance as the south wing. It includes the service
rooms, service stair and service door and the kitchen on the end has a full height
curving bay on the north side. Both rear wings have projecting end stacks and the
ends are connected by a single storey room with inner corridor. The house was
raised to 3 storeys circa 1820 but the kitchen and dining room were left at 2
storeys. The kitchen also has a cellar under. The front is flanked by single
storey pavilions linked to the main block by large archways. The south pavilion was
formerly an orangery. The north pavilion with rear stack and cellar was formerly a
The attractive west front has a symmetrical 2:3:2 window front as modernised circa
1820. The full height bows have stucco platbands at first floor level. Central
part-glazed double doors with reeded doorcase and entablature on shallow console
brackets. It is flanked by 12-pane sashes and there is a wide porch across the
entire centre bay with pairs of fluted Doric columns and has a moulded entablature.
Its flat roof forms a balcony enclosed by ornate cast iron railings. The first
floor windows onto the balcony are French windows with louvred shutters. The bays
each side have 12-pane sashes over sunken panels containing cast ironwork similar to
the balcony. The second floor has 9-pane (3/6) sashes. Moulded timber eaves
cornice below a plain parapet which is carried round the return walls. Roof is
hipped both ends and so too are the ends of the rear blocks and rear kitchen and
dining room have flat roofs. 2 C18 water colours inside the house show the house
before its Regency alterations. Its 2-storey Palladian front is missing the bays
and there is a central pediment over the central 3 windows and a cupola. The
pavilions survive from this phase. Both have identical gabled fronts with moulded
eaves cornice over large Venetian windows containing a sash with glazing bars. The
connecting round-headed archways have stucco keystones. The door to the northern
partition inside the archway is mid C18 with fielded panels. The southern pavilion
has a rear chimney shaft but it is false and for symmetry. In the rear wall here
the centre is broken forward and contains French windows with a fanlight over all
with glazing bars. There are another 3 similar on the outer side. These are
probably circa 1820.
The south front is simple and has a regular but not symmetrical 7/3 window front.
The main part has 12-pane sashes to ground and first floor with 9-pane sashes to the
second. Some of the windows at the left end are blind with painted glazing bars.
The circa 1920 south doorway has a glazed door with an overlight with glazing bars
made up of intersecting circles. Above is a nowy-headed slate sundial dated 1914.
Towards the left end a chimney shaft rises from a shaped base and has soffit-
Chamfered coping. (There is another in a similar position on the north side). The
bowed 3-window section, though lower, has taller windows, ground floor 12-pane
sashes and first floor 9-pane sashes under sunken panels in the parapet. The north
front has a similar 3:7-window front but here the bay has 20-pane and 16-pane
sashes, and the rest have smaller ground floor 20-pane sashes with 12-pane sashes
above and again some of the right end windows are blind. The rear end has some 12-
pane sashes at first floor level and across the connection wing are 3 round-headed
sashes with glazing bars. The inner sides of the wings both include a tripartite and
other sashes. The rear of the main block has a large round-headed sash in which the
upper glazing bars intersect in Gothic fashion.
Good interior: mostly Regency features of circa 1820 but some C18 features show in
the south wing. A couple of the chimneypieces here though may not be in situ.
At the rear is the splendid Dining Room of circa 1770, the best room in the house
and a remarkable example of its period by any standards. Bowed each end it is
richly and colourfully decorated (with some furniture and Axminster carpet to match).
The walls are lined with large field panels over a moulded dado. A large Ionic
column with apricot-coloured scagliola shaft stands in each corner. The architraves
include marbled flutes of the same apricot stone although that on the chimneypiece is
darker and redder in colour. The chimneypiece comprises flanking fluted Ionic
columns surmounted by vases on the moulded entablature which is in the style of the
ceiling cornice and including a central plaque carved as a scene of sacrifice. It is
however the ornamental plasterwork which is the most important element in the room.
It comprises Adam-like scrolls on the ceiling but the arrangement of the panels is
individualistic. The northern bow and the western long wall contain moulded plaster
reliefs of large hanging lamps enriched with dolphins and incorporating lamp
brackets. Above the chimneypiece is a large medallion including a bas relief of a
classical scene representing the sacrifice of a bull. It is surrounded with nut
hust decoration and a festoon of glass-like foliage tied up at the top in an Adamish
bow. The work as a whole is certainly very high quality, but the concept is a
little quirky in places and the plasterwork of higher relief than is usual at the
time. It may be the work of one of Adams' London rivals or maybe a competent
The main stair in the front wing rises in broad flights around 3 sides of the large
stair hall. It has an open string with carved and shaped stair brackets, walnut
veneer flat-moulded handrail and each tread has 3 different turned mahogany balusters
with blocks. It is undeniably mid C18 in style but it is oddly-proportioned and may
have been rebuilt as part of the circa 1820 refurbishment. Many of the rooms have
good Regency details and most of the contemporary chimneypieces are marble and
include their original cast iron grates. The drawing room over the entrance hall is
a particularly fine example. It includes an orange-yellow marble chimneypiece
enriched with a white marble urn and drapery, modillioned doorcases, panelled
shuttering to this room was alleviated by clever trompe l'oeuil painting of a
classical arcade around the room; this was done circa 1920. A main bedroom alongside
has very fine C19 wallpaper and one of the lesser bedrooms on the top floor of the
main block was done out like a tent circa 1820. The vaulted ceiling and walls have
red-striped Regency wallpaper with a series of knots along the cornice. At one end
the wallpaper is folded back to create the impression of a tent opening onto a
painted scene of sea, sky and gulls.
On the south side low terraces extend round formal lawns. These were probably
rebuilt circa 1920 but include 6 C18 stone vases.
This is an important country house which is most attractively sited in landscaped
grounds. It looks particularly charming from the south-west as meadows rise
gradually towards the front. Despite the 1920 modernisation the house looks, both
internally and externally, as though little has happened here since circa 1820.
There are no later external accretions and the nearby C18 stables and coach house
(q.v.) with the early C19 model farmyard (q.v.) behind only contribute to the period
atmosphere. The intact decorative scheme of the circa 1770 dining room is of
considerable interest. There is nothing quite like it in Devon. It looks somewhat
rustic when compared with Wyatt's Music Room, Powderham, perhaps its nearest
It is not known whether the Duntze family had the property when the original house
was built but it was owned by Sir John Duntze in 1760. The Duntze family in the
late C17 and early C18 were wealthy Exeter merchants and their early C18 town house
survives, 143 Fore Street.
Sources: Christopher Hussey, Rockbeare Manor, Devonshire, Parts I and II. Country
Life. Vol 67, (1930), pp 570-576, 642-648.
Bridget Cherry (Joint Editor, Penguin's The Buildings of England), manuscript notes
and personal comments.
Marked as Rockbeare House on OS map.
Listing NGR: SY0316294044
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