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Nos. 161 and 163 Magdalen Road

A Grade II Listed Building in Exeter, Devon

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Latitude: 50.722 / 50°43'19"N

Longitude: -3.5112 / 3°30'40"W

OS Eastings: 293422

OS Northings: 92469

OS Grid: SX934924

Mapcode National: GBR P1.957V

Mapcode Global: FRA 37J5.HX4

Entry Name: Nos. 161 and 163 Magdalen Road

Listing Date: 18 June 1974

Last Amended: 19 July 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1239561

English Heritage Legacy ID: 417484

Location: Exeter, Devon, EX2

County: Devon

District: Exeter

Electoral Ward/Division: Newtown and St Leonard's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Exeter

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Heavitree St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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A pair of early-C19 detached villas forming a group with other buildings on the north side of Magdalen Road.


A pair of C19 villas of c.1820-40 date, extended and altered in the later C19 and C20.

MATERIALS: red brick with stucco render to the façade and rear. The roofs are covered in slate.

PLAN: rectangular on plan with rear additions, the buildings are of three storeys.

EXTERIOR: the three-bay facades to each side have quoin pilasters and a cornice with parapet to the roof. To the left, No.161 has a door to the left bay under a projecting canopy with peaked hood and cast-iron supports. The door has stained glass side lights and fanlight. The central and right bays have a wide opening with five lights formed by substantial surrounds and decorative upper lights. The first and second floor have six-over-six unhorned sashes with slender glazing bars. Circular tie ends are visible on the first and second floor of the façade. To the right, No.163 has a glazed central door with fanlight and later C19 horned sashes to each side, all under round-arched heads. The peaked canopy is on cast-iron supports and a stone step, and there is a cast-iron boot scraper to the left of the door. The first floor has modified casements of later C19 or early C20 date. The second floor casements* appear to be of late C20 date.

The red brick flank wall of No.163 is in Flemish bond and has window openings to each floor, with that to the second floor under a gauged brick flat head. Much of the brickwork to the second floor is overburnt. The first floor opening has been rebuilt under a soldier course. The frames to each floor have been removed. Standing forward of the building line is the C20 red brick rear extension*. It is of lower three storey height under a flat roof and part- tile hung and part-rendered. The right rear bay of No.163 has a modified opening to the ground floor and two unhorned eight-over-eight sashes to the floors above. The rear of No.161 has fenestration including eight-over-eight and six-over-six unhorned sashes, and a tile hung lean-to extension. The pitched roof is covered in slate and there are three truncated stacks.

To the rear of both buildings are adjacent single-storey brick structures, former service buildings possibly of later C19 date. They are rectangular on plan with hipped roofs. Their openings have machine-sawn timber lintels and timber casements. The service building to No.161 has a local slate roof, and that to No.163 appears to be of Welsh slate. By Barrack Road, along the flank elevation and front garden to No.163, there is a section of C19 brick garden wall in Flemish garden wall (Sussex) bond.

INTERIOR: no.161 was not inspected (2016) but photographs suggest it has been extensively refurbished during the C20. Some interior features such as stairs, fireplaces and joinery may remain in situ.

No.163 largely retains its historic layout to each floor although some modern partitions* and services* have been inserted. There is a C19 stair towards the rear of the front hall with a slender handrail and newel post and modern replacement balusters. Some sections of the stair to the upper floors have been altered, although the flight from the first floor to second floor landing has a complete handrail and newel. The building retains C19 joinery with mouldings to many of the window reveals, skirting boards, and ceiling cornices to the ground floor principal rooms. The roof to No.163 has two C19 king post trusses with possible carpenter’s marks to the west truss. The principal timbers including purlins are early-to-mid C19 in date. The other elements of the roof are later. The end walls are brick with wide relieving arches. Each floor is covered in pine boards of varying width and levels of alteration; those on the second floor appear to be of C19 date. The rear extension* to the building has no interior fittings of interest.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features, including the late C20 extension to No. 163, are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Nos.161 and 163 Magdalen Road were built as part of the C19 eastern expansion of the City of Exeter. While the exact date of their construction is not certain, the plots were not developed at the time of a map of 1816 of the area, when the neighbouring buildings of Baring Place were shown. Nos.161 and 163 were built sometime after this and are shown on the Heavitree Tithe Map of 1841 forming a row with the other buildings but were detached from them. Although the buildings are not shown on Exeter town plans of the 1850s, omissions and errors of this kind are not uncommon on maps of this period, and the inclusion of the buildings on a similar footprint on the First Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1880 (as well as the fabric itself) gives a clear indication that it is the early C19 villas that remain standing on the site.

Since their first construction the buildings have undergone a number of alterations. No.161 (also known as Willowdene House) has been extended to the rear and it is likely that the main entrance has been moved from the centre of the façade to the left (indicated by a front path and door to the centre shown on the 1880/89 maps). The entrance appears to have been moved by the early C20 judging by the style of the door and replacement windows. No.161 has also been reordered and refitted internally, and at one time served as part of St Margaret’s School. No.163 has also been extended to the rear and been altered internally to serve as a house of multiple occupancy. In 2016, both buildings are subject to plans for their renovation.

Reasons for Listing

Nos.161 and 163 Magdalen Road, Exeter, an early-C19 pair of villas with later alterations is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as a pair of C19 villas with historic features including door canopies and sash windows;
* Quality of construction: the building displays high quality craftsmanship in its historic fabric including the roof timbers and brickwork, and in the unusual use of Sussex bond in the brick garden wall;
* Degree of survival: the buildings retain a significant proportion of their original fabric and some of their layout;
* Group value: there is strong group value with the other historic buildings on the road, including those as part of the former Baring Place, some of which are listed at a higher grade.

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