History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Great Bidlake

A Grade II* Listed Building in Bridestowe, Devon

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 50.678 / 50°40'40"N

Longitude: -4.1319 / 4°7'54"W

OS Eastings: 249469

OS Northings: 88652

OS Grid: SX494886

Mapcode National: GBR NX.6LHL

Mapcode Global: FRA 2778.VFZ

Plus Code: 9C2QMVH9+66

Entry Name: Great Bidlake

Listing Date: 20 February 1952

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1326276

English Heritage Legacy ID: 94294

Location: Bridestowe, West Devon, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Bridestowe

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Bridestowe

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Find accommodation in


SX 48 NE

11/51 Great Bidlake


Manor house. C16 with earlier origins, probably with some alterations in C17,
extensively restored in mid C19 with some additions made. Local stone rubble walls
with granite dressings. Scantle and grouted slate roof with decorative C19 ridge
tiles; numerous gables. 6 C19 rubble and dressed granite stacks of which 3 are
axial, 2 are lateral and one is at the gable end of a wing.
Complex development of plan; some late medieval fabric survives in the main left
cross-wing but the main build of the house dates from circa late C16, possibly from
1594, the date on a reused window head - at which time an E-shape would not be
unusual in a manor house. The internal plan of the early house is partially
obscured by the extensive C19 restoration and remodelling and it is possible that
the lower, right end of the house is a complete rebuild of this date. The form of
the upper end can, however, be conjectured from the porch upwards and the hall was
probably to its left. The function of the room in the cross-wing to its left is not
entirely clear but the 1st floor room judging from the quality of the roof
construction appears to have been some sort of "great chamber" or 1st floor parlour.
This wing also extended to the rear. In the C17 an adjoining unheated rear wing was
added in the angle behind the hall. The house does not then appear to have been
significantly altered until the mid C19. At this time the lower end was heavily
remodelled if not rebuilt, with a long cross-wing extending at the rear. The
passage and adjoining lower room to the right were converted to one large entrance
hall and a staircase was added in tower at the rear of the former passage. At the
left (higher) end of the house a parallel cross wing was added for service purposes
and adjoining it, to the left side a 3 storey tower with a short wing behind was
built, possibly for accommodation of the servants.
The exterior of the house was also remodelled with several small gables and numerous
mullion windows added or replaced. This remodelling was all of a high quality and
intended to enhance the historic character of the building.
2 storeys with 3-storey tower. The principal front faces north-east and is
basically E-shaped with the C19 wing and tower adjoining to the left. The main
block has a symmetrical 5-window front of granite mullion windows with small
intermediate C19 gables inbetween the wings and the 2-storey porch. The ground
floor windows are all 4-light and those on the 1st floor are 3-light apart from the
porch window which is 2-light. This is probably an original window with a hollow
chamfer and hoodmould above. The window to the left of the porch on the ground
floor is also early but may be C17 as it has a moulded granite frame. Both windows
in the left-hand wing are also likely to be original and have double chamfers and
hoodmoulds. The other windows are all mid C19 restorations; the 1st floor window to
the right-hand wing is inscribed with the initials I.B.W. and dated 1848 - referring
probably to the Wollacombe family who inherited the property in the early C19. The
porch has a 4-centred granite arched doorway with roll and hollow moulding and
deeply incised scroll stops. The internal wooden doorframe is square-headed and
ovolo moulded. Its door is contemporary and constructed of 3 studded planks which
have closely spaced vertical bead-moulding giving the appearance of narrow planks.
Reused in the front wall of the house is a mullion head dated 1594 with the intials
A.B. Recessed to the left of the left-hand wing is mid C19 addition, the gable end
of which has a 3-light C19 mullion window and a reused segmental-headed C17 granite
doorway below. The square tower projects from the left-hand side of this addition.
The rear elevation is more irregular and preserves less early fabric. To its left
is a long projecting wing, at the centre is the narrow gabled stair tower which has
the C17 wing adjoining to its right. This contains the only early granite mullion
windows on this side 2-light on the 1st floor and 3-light on the ground floor with
hollow and double chamfers. To the right on the ground floor is a contemporary
single granite-framed light. Slightly recessed from this wing is an adjoining
earlier wing to its right with a projecting gable end stack. The outer face of this
wing has a C17 round-headed roll-moulded granite doorway with incised scroll stops.
To the right of this wing are gabled C19 additions, the right-hand of which is a
short wing in front of the tower. It reuses in its wall a C15 2-light cinquefoiled
window head which dates from an earlier build of the house. The other windows on
this elevation are C19 either granite or wood mullions with wooden transom windows
on the stair tower and to the back stairs on the outer face of the right-hand wing.
Interior shows much evidence of the C19 remodelling in features such as fireplaces
and staircases. Some early features do survive, however. The roof to the early
left-hand wing has 3 probably C16 trusses of which the 2 front ones have chamfered
archbraced collars with morticed apex and diagonal ridge. A puzzling feature is
that the rear truss of this wing is considerably higher than the other 2 and of
different construction yet apparently contemporary with slightly curved feet,
threaded purlins and morticed cranked collar and similar apex to the others. C19
nailed roof over the rest of the house. A C17 fireplace survives in the room to
left of the entrance hall (probably the hall): it is granite framed and chamfered
with a massive straight lintel which is carved with an intricate design of
interlaced semi-circles. Leading from this room into the wing is a C17 segmental
headed granite doorway with roll moulding and incised scroll stops. To its right is
an C18 arched wall cupboard with dropped keystone and moulded imposts. The present
kitchen in the left-hand wing has a massive cross beam with a hollow chamfer and
run-out stops and similar half-beams.
The site of Great Bidlake was acquired in 1268 by Ralph de Combe and after
subsequent marriages to the Bidlake Family, Bidlake became the family name. A
description of the house in the time of Thomas Bidlake (who died 1531) mentions that
"the great parlour with its large chimneyplace, the Entry and Porch, and a room or 2
beyond that, and those with chambers over them, were already built and fully
furnished". The fact that at this early date the house,was being built with
chimneys and 1st floor rooms suggest its importance. Thomas Bidlake was succeeded
by his son Henry who died in 1792 and the property passed into the Woolacombe
This house evidently retained its importance from medieval times into the C19; the
form of the Elizabethan house can still be discerned and retains some of its
features, with some possibly earlier, while the C19 restoration was itself of a high
Source: West Devon District Council Planning Office

Listing NGR: SX4946988652

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.