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Custom House, Wharfinger's House and Attached Warehouse

A Grade I Listed Building in Exeter, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7189 / 50°43'8"N

Longitude: -3.5318 / 3°31'54"W

OS Eastings: 291963

OS Northings: 92148

OS Grid: SX919921

Mapcode National: GBR P0.QCP3

Mapcode Global: FRA 37H5.MXF

Plus Code: 9C2RPF99+H7

Entry Name: Custom House, Wharfinger's House and Attached Warehouse

Listing Date: 29 January 1953

Last Amended: 8 July 1991

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1223038

English Heritage Legacy ID: 418578

Also known as: Custom House, Exeter

ID on this website: 101223038

Location: The Quay, Exeter, Devon, EX2

County: Devon

District: Exeter

Electoral Ward/Division: St David's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Exeter

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Exeter St Leonard

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Custom house

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The following building shall be upgraded to Grade I:

SX 9192 SE
Custom House and
attached warehouse

The description shall be amended to read:

Custom House. 1680-1 by Richard Allen; Wharfinger's House to east
enlarged 1711. Orange-red brick, mostly in random bond but some
English bond to rear; Flemish bond brick of 1711; Heavitree stone
footings and Beer stone dressings; hipped slate roof, and brick
stacks. Double-depth plan with central front entrance hall and rear
stairhall, flanked by bonded cellars to ground floor and offices to
Wharfinger's House on right. 2 storeys. Symmetrical 5-window range.
Raised semi-circular arched architraves with linking impost courses
and keystones touching plat band, rusticated quoins to deep eaves and
cornice set on giant modillions; similar cornice to central pediment,
which had Georgian Royal Arms until 1989. Early C19 8/8 and 6/6-pane
first-floor sashes set in raised stone architraves. Central and
right-hand (east) bays of arcade infilled 1684-5, with segmental-
arched stone architraves over C19 6/6-pane sashes and decorative
fanlight over bolection-moulded plank double doors (of 1684-5) with
original strap hinges, ferramanta and C18 knocker; 2 left-hand (west)
bays infilled after 1830 with similar sashes and architraves. Mid Cl9
stair turret projects to left. Cornice continued over original 2-
window range set back to left, which has brick plat band and basket
arch over doorway, probably originally a window; to first floor is
flat brick arch over inserted C19 4/4-pane sash to left and timber
lintel over early 8/8-pane sash in deepened opening. Cornice also
continued over extension of c1711 to right (east): 2-window range with
plat band, and flat brick arches over 6/6-pane sashes; hipped dormer
with C20 casement. Plat band and cornice continued to right return
wall which has late C19 first-floor casement and late C18/early C19
panelled door and horizontal-sliding sash. 5-bay rear elevation has
hipped cross roof over each bay and plat band: 3-window range to west
has horned 6/6-pane first-floor sashes with mid C19 brick jambs and
keyed segmental arches over 3 original iron-barred 2-light wood-
mullioned windows to cellar/warehouse; 2 tall semi-circular arched
stair windows to centre bay have original 2-light wooden cross windows
with leaded lights; 3-window range to east has similar
cellar/warehouse windows and flat brick arches over similar cross
windows (that to left with C20 glazing and that to centre using
reset fragments).
Interior: West Arcade Office, created after c1830, has mid C19
chimneypiece. East Arcade Office, created after c1685, has original
moulded box cornice, C19 cupboards and some original and reset C18
panelling. Stone flag floors to entrance lobby and stairhall, latter
with late C17 (probably 1684-5) plank doors with strap hinges and
applied bolection mouldings to bonded cellars, that to right having
stone flag and brick pavior floor and that to left having cobbled
floor, shutters, C19 lead-lined sink and bottle rack and late C17 sump
with semi barrel vault, probably for the disposal of contraband wine.
Fine open-well stair, an early example of its type with heavy turned
vase balusters on closed string, carved pendentives.and bolection-
panelled dado with original cupboard under window. First floor
includes late C17-C19 doors and architraves; and 3 exceptionally fine
plaster ceilings by John Abbot of Frithelstock with enriched high-
relief ornament to geometric-pattern ribs to the stairhall, the main
room to centre (The Long Room) and Surveyor's Office to right (east):
that to Long Room is the finest with leaves, flowers, fruit and
serpents to oval, scrolled masks to cartouches, and acanthus-leaf
cornice to ornamental frieze. Long Room has eared architrave and C19
bracketed mantleshelf to chimneypiece and Royal Arms of Queen Anne
above C19 cupboards. Surveyor's Office has similar eared architrave
with late C18 neo-classical frieze to chimneypiece, and C19 cupboards
added onto original panelling. Central office to rear has original
beaded chimneypiece. 3 offices to west end have mid C19 chimneypiece
and cupboards to front room, original chimneypiece and mantleshelf
flanked by C19 cupboards and pigeon holes to centre room, and mid C19
chimneypiece and late C17 office cupboards (a rare survival) to rear
room. Wharfinger's House to east, of 2-room plan, has part of winder
stair with 3 turned blusters and ball finial, and includes original
plank screens and landing cupboard with butterfly hinges. Late C17
A-frame trusses with lap-jointed collars.
Subsidiary features: late C17 2-storey warehouse to left (west), of
similar materials with hipped roof. Rectangular plan at right angles
to Custom House. Front bay has 3-light window above timber lintel
over original doorway; stone steps to door in right return wall.
Interior not inspected but noted as having original trusses and other
features of interest.
The Renaissance-inspired facade and magnificent plasterwork (amongst
the finest in the south west of that date), advanced joinery detail,
early use of brick and the centralised double-depth plan,of the Custom
House are of the first importance in illustrating the arrival of a
national or court style to Devon. It was built to cater for the
expansion of Exeter's port facilities which followed the rapid growth
of the local wool trade after the Civil War. It is also the earliest
purpose-built Custom House in England, its office fittings and sump
being significant survivals.


SX 9192 SE
5/115 Custom House and
attached warehouse
GV 29.1.53 I

the address shall be amended to read:
Custom House, Wharfinger's
House and attached warehouse
(formerly listed as Custom
House. Warehouse adjoining
Custom House. Custom House

The list was previously amended in respect of this entry on 12 March 1991.


Custom House.
29.1.53. Warehouse adjoining
Custom House
SX 9192 SE 5/115
Date given by Lysons 1675. Date on rain water head 1681. Red brick 2 storey building,
the main front being 5 window with stone dressings. Stone arcading to ground floor
now filled in, and late Georgian sash windows inserted here and to 1st floor. (Original
leaded windows with mullions and transomes remain at back of building.) Front has
pediment in centre with cartouche and feathers and supporters in tympanum. Deep
eaves with brackets, hipped slate roof. At west end of front is modern brick projecting
addition, also 2 window front set back. Also adjoining is 1 storey stone and brick
warehouse, probably original. Interior: Massive C17 staircase with turned balusters.
Plaster ceilings to stair-well, Long Room, and adjoining room. These have remarkable
pendant fruit, flowers and even serpents, supported on wooden pegs and lead wires.
(CF. Royal Hotel, Bideford).
All the listed buildings on the Quay form a group.

Listing NGR: SX9196392147

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