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Langford Fivehead

A Grade II* Listed Building in Taunton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0025 / 51°0'9"N

Longitude: -2.9156 / 2°54'56"W

OS Eastings: 335853

OS Northings: 122969

OS Grid: ST358229

Mapcode National: GBR M9.K167

Mapcode Global: FRA 46SG.FZ9

Plus Code: 9C3V233M+2Q

Entry Name: Langford Fivehead

Listing Date: 17 April 1959

Last Amended: 24 May 2011

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1263649

English Heritage Legacy ID: 431738

Location: Fivehead, South Somerset, Somerset, TA3

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset

Civil Parish: Fivehead

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

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A former manor house. It has a C15 core that was extended and remodelled probably in the late C16 and early C17. It was extensively restored by Rupert Austin for the Matterson family in 1905; also some late-C20 alterations.


A former manor house. It has a C15 core that was extended and remodelled probably in the late C16 and early C17. It was extensively restored by Rupert Austin for the Matterson family in 1905; also some late-C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: it is constructed of local coursed and squared blue lias with Ham stone dressings. The roofs, which have raised and coped gables and the bases for finials (removed), are covered with Welsh slates. The ashlar chimneystacks are mostly C20 re-instatements.

PLAN: the house faces south and has a double E-shaped plan with through passage and hall. It consists of a C15 range orientated west to east which was extended at various stages; firstly in the C16 when west and east wings were added to the rear (north) and the first floor was probably inserted; secondly in the early C17 with the addition of corresponding wings to the front and projecting entrance bays to the front and rear. The late-C20 kitchen addition to the east side is not of interest.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation (south) is dominated by two front-facing, broad wings. There is a gabled three-storey central porch which has a four-centred arched opening with moulded jambs, is lined with stone benches, and leads to an inner doorway with a plank door. It forms a cross-passage with an opposing door of similar architectural treatment. The fenestration comprises two-, three-, and four-light stone-mullioned windows with stopped labels and square-paned leaded lights; those to the left (west) of the porch and to the ground floor of the right-hand wing are taller, transomed windows. The two left-hand bays to the west return have four-light and six-light mullioned and transomed windows to the ground floor and three- and five-light windows above. The right-hand bays break forwards slightly and have an irregular arrangement of mullioned windows; the two central ones lighting the stair. The rear elevation is in a conforming style to the front, although the west and east wings are narrower and the porch bay projects forwards almost level with the flanking wings. To the east elevation is a late-C20 single-storey addition in matching materials. There are two- and three-light mullioned windows to the first floor.

INTERIOR: the late-C16 to early-C17 internal layout of the building remains legible. The majority of the fireplaces have moulded Hamstone surrounds with four-centred heads; some of the earlier examples to the ground floor in the northern half of the house have incised spandrels. The dining room in the east front wing has a Hamstone fireplace set below a large timber bressumer that spans the length of the room. Recesses to either side of the fireplace contained bread ovens in the early-C20, but may have formerly housed curing chambers and/or a kiln. One of the first-floor fireplaces carries the graffiti inscription 'NATHANIEL BARNARD', who occupied the house during the mid-C17; a fireplace in another bedroom has an inserted late-C18 cast-iron grate. There is a late-C20 plasterwork ceiling in a Jacobean style to one of the bedrooms and a decorative plaster cornice of which only a short section is original. A high proportion of the joinery also dates to the late C16/early C17, including an open well staircase in the front west wing which has splat balusters, newels with shaped finials and matching pendants, and panelled flanking walls. The staircase in the eastern half of the house dates from the late-C20. Both of the front (south) wings also contain panelled screens with ovolo and stepped mouldings to the posts. There are other timber partitions elsewhere in the building which appear to have been re-sited. The roof trusses are a mix of styles and dates. The central, west-east range contains two arch-braced, collared trusses of probable mid-C15 date that show no evidence of smoke-blackening; two jointed crucks with collars and a pair of purlins to each side; and what appears to have formerly been a closed truss with principals and a high collar. The west wing retains two collared trusses with tie beams and chamfered butt purlins, and the east wing has similar roof trusses but with queen struts.


Documentary sources indicate that there has been a house here since at least the C13. It was first recorded in 1255 when it was called as Langford Fyfehed, although little is known about the original building. The present house has a double E plan. At its core is a central range of C15 date that is orientated west to east. This was extended with the addition of two wings to the north in the C16. The two southern wings and two porch bays were added in the early C17, at which time the original part of the house was refashioned. Most of the windows are of this date, as are many of the internal fittings. Immediately to the east of the house is a two-storey cottage which is believed to be described in a mid-C16 document as the Steward's or 'dairy' house, but may have originally been a detached kitchen to the main house.

In 1518 the manor house was bequeathed to the Dean and Canons of Exeter Cathedral who owned it, except for a period of time following the Civil War in the mid-C17, until about 1860. It appears to have been occupied by a succession of tenants during the Cathedral's ownership. During the latter part of the C19 Langford Farm, as it was then known, was left to deteriorate and parts are understood to have become uninhabitable. The main drive to the house which was originally from the south, aligned with the south porch, was also re-routed so that it approached from the south-west at around this time. In 1904 the estate was sold to the Matterson family who commissioned London architect Rupert Austin to extensively renovate the house. The work included re-roofing the building, restoring the external elevations and rebuilding the stone stacks; internally some of the timber partitions were re-positioned, several staircases were replaced, and modern conveniences were also introduced. Some time during the mid-C20 the house was converted into two dwellings, but it has since reverted to a single dwelling. More recently (c.1999), an early-C20 lean-to on the east side of the building has been replaced with a single-storey kitchen extension.

Reasons for Listing

Langford Fivehead is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: it retains a significant proportion of a C15 hall-house that was extended and remodelled in the late C16 and early C17. This later work contributes to the more special interest of the building through the carefully-executed elevational treatment
* Intactness: it has undergone some alterations, including restoration in the early C20, but overall the quality and level of survival is remarkable
* Interiors: pre-dominantly late-C16/early-C17 interiors with some noteworthy features, for instance fireplaces with Hamstone surrounds, a staircase with splat balusters, and elm partitions; of a quality that fully warrants a Grade II* designation.

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