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Greenway's Almhouses and Chapel

A Grade II Listed Building in Tiverton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.9031 / 50°54'11"N

Longitude: -3.4851 / 3°29'6"W

OS Eastings: 295670

OS Northings: 112568

OS Grid: SS956125

Mapcode National: GBR LJ.RDWK

Mapcode Global: FRA 36LQ.82V

Plus Code: 9C2RWG37+7X

Entry Name: Greenway's Almhouses and Chapel

Listing Date: 12 February 1952

Last Amended: 6 March 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1384842

English Heritage Legacy ID: 485301

Location: Tiverton, Mid Devon, Devon, EX16

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon

Civil Parish: Tiverton

Built-Up Area: Tiverton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Tiverton St George

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Chapel Almshouse

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Chapel and almshouse founded by local merchant John Greenway in the early C16, with the capacity to house five men; the almshouse block was partially rebuilt in 1731 following a fire, and again in the C19, and later converted for use as offices.


Chapel and almshouse founded by local merchant John Greenway in the early C16, with the capacity to house five men; the almshouse block was partially rebuilt in 1731 following a fire, and again in the C19, and later converted for use as offices.

MATERIALS: local sandstone rubble with stone dressing, a slate roof and, over the chapel, crested ridge tiles.

PLAN: the single-cell chapel is attached to west end of the almshouse block (with a central rear cross-wing) all fronting directly onto Gold Street .

EXTERIOR: the CHAPEL has a shallow porch. It has a moulded segmental-headed outer doorway topped by a hoodmould with sculptural, carved label stops. Steps lead down to the inner door, a moulded Tudor-arched inner doorway with a plank door that has initials carved in the spandrels. Above the door is a frieze with carved scrolls over it and a truncated statue niche housing a C20 figure. The whole porch is topped by a parapet with carved shield motifs and a frieze below. To the left is a perpendicular traceried window with cinquefoil-headed lights and hoodmould with sculptural, carved label stops. The statue niche to left houses a replacement figure and the remains of a text on a scroll below. The chapel has a pierced parapet with quatrefoil detailing, corbelled cornice and text below that reads "HAVE GRACE YE MEN AND PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JOHN AND JOAN GREENWAY".

The rear elevation has a C19 Tudor-arch moulded stone doorway with carved spandrels and a hoodmould. To the right is a small single-light and a large two-light window. The west end has a large three-light window in a similar style to the other openings and is topped by a hoodmould with carved angel label stops. The re-cut text on the sill of the window reads "RESTE AWHYLE YE THAT MAY/PRAY YE FOR ME IN NIGHT AND DAYE". The window is flanked by statue niches with restored figures and the remains of a text (no longer legible) on scrolls below. The window jambs extend down the wall, suggesting the loss of a panel below the sill. The west end also contains two small square windows with hoodmoulds. They contain stone tracery composed of initials (left) and a shield with initials (right). The elevation is topped by a gabled bellcote with cinquefoil head and demi-shafts at the sides. The chapel windows all have diamond leaded panes and decorative metal cross bars.

The ALMSHOUSE to the left has two storeys and a half basement. The a-symmetrical front has three bays. The C19 two-light stone mullioned windows have moulded mullions (except at the left ground floor window which has a square frame with Tudor-arched lights and carved spandrels). All of the windows are glazed with diamond leaded panes. At the left end is a hollow-chamfered Tudor arched doorway topped by a hoodmould that give access to a through passage. Two statue niches in the wall have Ham-Hill ogee arches containing a statue of St. Peter (to the left), and an unidentified figurine (to the right). The cast-iron crested gutters are stamped with flowers and held on cast-iron brackets. Above are three gables topped by decorative bargeboards with pendants. The rear elevation is roughcast with C20 casement windows and a truncated stack.
INTERIOR: the CHAPEL is a single-cell room with plastered walls. The C19 three-bay wagon roof has moulded ribs with carved bosses at the intersections. The windows have dropped internal cills and hollow-chamfered Beerstone rere-arches. The east wall is decorated by a C19 mural depicting an unfurled scroll with the text ‘GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST’. Below are two corbels supported by carved demi-figures. The south doorway has a carved inscription above the internal arch that reads ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JOHN AND JOAN GREENWAY’. The south wall contains a small niche. The furniture includes fixed pews (circa 1860), and a reading desk and chair.

The ALMSHOUSE is now (2014) in use as offices. The ground and first floor contain offices and the top floor is a self-contained flat (not accessible at the time of inspection). The rear wing contains a polished-concrete staircase with a painted metal handrail. Some blocked up early fireplaces may survive within the building.


John Greenway (circa 1460 -1529) was a Tiverton merchant who exported West Country cloth to Europe and was a member of the Drapers’ Company and the Merchant Ventures’ Company in London. A progressive employer, in the early C16 he financed the construction of a set of almshouses and adjoining chapel in Tiverton. Most sources state that it was founded in to 1529, the year that Greenway died, however, others suggest it was in 1517. Each occupant had two rooms and a garden, and received eight pence a week. In return they were expected to pray daily in the chapel for the souls of John Greenway and his wife, Joan: an inscription instructing this practice can still be seen on the chapel. The chapel porch appears to have been reduced in size, possibly when the level of Gold Street was raised. After a fire in 1731 a large part of the almshouse was rebuilt. This includes an external rear timber gallery which was rebuilt in brick. The C16 chapel was also reputed to have suffered some damage in the fire and is understood to have been subject to some redecoration between 1783 and 84. Further alterations were made to the almshouse in the C19, at which point it is likely the external gallery was enclosed and rebuilt in stone to form nine single rooms over three floors. The almshouse was later converted to office use. The chapel stone work has recently been repaired (2014).

Reasons for Listing

Greenway’s Almshouse and attached chapel is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is elaborately decorated with high-quality dressed-stone detailing, including intricately carved parapets and tracery windows, that contrast well with the local purple rubble stone;
* Historic interest: it was founded by John Greenway a locally and nationally prominent wool merchant who was one of a number of wealthy philanthropists that built similar establishments within the town;
* Legibility: despite the internal alterations to the almshouse, the juxtaposition of the former accommodation range and the chapel still clearly demonstrates the buildings charitable and religious origins;
* Group value: it has group value with the other listed buildings that form Greenway’s Almshouses including the mid-C19 blocks to the rear (Grade II), and the converted former C19 workshop (Grade II).

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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