History in Structure

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

The Shell House and Grotto

A Grade I Listed Building in Milton Abbot, Devon

We don't have any photos of this building yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 50.5836 / 50°35'1"N

Longitude: -4.2721 / 4°16'19"W

OS Eastings: 239242

OS Northings: 78453

OS Grid: SX392784

Mapcode National: GBR NQ.DLG8

Mapcode Global: FRA 17YJ.7H9

Plus Code: 9C2QHPMH+F5

Entry Name: The Shell House and Grotto

Listing Date: 6 October 1982

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1326346

English Heritage Legacy ID: 92462

Location: Milton Abbot, West Devon, Devon, PL19

County: Devon

District: West Devon

Town: West Devon

Civil Parish: Milton Abbot

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Find accommodation in



9/220 The Shell House and Grotto

Summerhouse for the display of fossils crystals, minerals and shells and adjoining
grotto. Circa 1810 for the 6th Duke of Bedford, probably by Humphry Repton. Stone
rubble summerhouse of diverse stones including quartz, shells embedded in the mortar.
Pyramidal slate roof with lead joints and 7 gablets. Stone rubble grotto. The
summerhouse is round on plan on a spectacular site overlooking the Tamar. A deep
stone rubble wall to the north is pierced by a segmental archway with a cut stone
arch forming a short tunnel; a second tunnel leads off the first forming a grotto and
then an open pathway round the side of the summerhouse. A small cobbled area in
front of the summerhouse commands views of the valley below. Picturesque. Single-
storey summerhouse, approximately circular with a rough buttress to the left of the
doorway which has a segmental pointed head and a half-glazed door with 2 lights with
stained glass above a rustic stick construction for the lower half. 7 triangular
lunette windows in the gablets have spiders web leading. 2 segmental pointed 2-light
windows on the south side have stained glass in ornamental leaded panes and overlook
the valley.
Interior A groin vault roof is encrusted with shells and fossils. Internally, the
summerhouse is hexagonal, 2 bays to the windows, 1 to the door, the other 3
consisting of recesses with stone benches, the walls entirely lined with fossils and
shells laid in patterns of subtle design with some C20 replacement. Small cobbles
and tiles form a hexagonal star pattern on the floor which has a small central pool.
The summerhouse and grotto are part of the garden architecture of Endsleigh House
(formerly Endsleigh Cottage) which was designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville for the 6th
Duke of Bedford. Christopher Hussey attributes the summerhouse to Repton, quoting a
reference from the Endsleigh Red Book to a "quarry which might be converted into a
grotto-like receptacle for specimens of the fossils and ores abounding in the
neighbourhood," although Carter, Goode and Laurie do not mention the summerhouse or
grotto in their description of Repton's proposals for Endsleigh. Endsleigh House and
its surrounding have been described as of "unique historical and artistic
significance" (Hussey).
Christopher Hussey, Country Life, CXXX, 246; CXXX, 296.
George Carter, Patrick Goode and Kedroun Laurie, Humphry Repton Landscape Gardener
1752 - 1818 (1982).
Humphry Repton, Red Book, September and October 1814, Woburn Abbey
Humphry Repton (with John Adey Repton), Fragments on the Theory and Practice of
Landscape Gardening Including some Remarks on Grecian and Gothic Architecture (1816).

Listing NGR: SX3924278453

Selected Sources

Book cover links are generated automatically from the sources. They are not necessarily always correct, as book names at Amazon may not be quite the same as those used referenced in the text.

Source title links go to a search for the specified title at Amazon. Availability of the title is dependent on current publication status. You may also want to check AbeBooks, particularly for older titles.

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.