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Castle Tor

A Grade II Listed Building in Wellswood, Torbay

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Latitude: 50.4635 / 50°27'48"N

Longitude: -3.5027 / 3°30'9"W

OS Eastings: 293437

OS Northings: 63711

OS Grid: SX934637

Mapcode National: GBR QX.3CLX

Mapcode Global: FRA 37KT.TF1

Plus Code: 9C2RFF7W+CW

Entry Name: Castle Tor

Listing Date: 4 February 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393661

English Heritage Legacy ID: 506256

Location: Wellswood, Torbay, TQ1

County: Torbay

Electoral Ward/Division: Wellswood

Built-Up Area: Torquay

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Torquay St Matthias

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 16 April 2021 to reformat the text to current standards


Castle Tor


Castle Tor. 1928-34. Fred Harrild FRIBA, architect. Later extensions.

MATERIALS: it is constructed of traditional materials: rendered mass wall construction with a slate roof and rendered stack, and some slate-hanging to the gables and walls. The majority of windows have been replaced with uPVC in the late-C20.

PLAN: the house is irregular in plan, with the principal rooms (south-east) overlooking the garden and sea views. The service rooms are to the rear. The entrance hall, with staircase, is to the south-west. An elaborate fight of stone stairs with arches leads to the enclosed entrance courtyard (west).

EXTERIOR: externally, the two-storey house is asymmetrical. A later-C20 single-story extension with large windows and a hipped, slate facia occupies much of the ground floor, supporting an extensive sun-terrace, with wrought iron balustrading. Above, the original slate-hung gables of the cross wings survive. The south-east cross wing retains its wrought iron balcony above the in-filled logia, with rusticated stone piers in-situ. The south-east (courtyard) elevation is little altered. To the south the projecting two-storey porch has a hipped roof and ashlar details to the openings, including a gibbs surround and a moulded drip hood to the entrance. The panelled door is set in a Tudor arch. There is a central, stained-glass staircase window with a Tudor-rose motif. A number of smaller, lancet and single light windows retain their original geometric leaded-lights. To the north a narrow, cross-wing projects, tower-like, with a hipped roof and deep, overhanging, eaves; there is a series of small, single-light, mullioned windows wrapping around its three projecting sides, just below the eaves.

The east elevation has a large canted-bay window with a steeply pitched, slate-hung, gable-end and timber mullioned windows, with square leaded-lights. To the north of the porch the building steps back, with timber, mullioned windows, with square leaded-lights and fish-scale, slate-hung walls. The rear elevation (north-west) is terraced into steeply rising ground. Castle Tor sits within a Registered Landscape (Grade II) also designed by F Harrild; it contains a number of separately listed buildings and structures.

INTERIOR: the house retains a number of notable features including good quality joinery, a dog-leg staircase with twisted balusters and a stained glass staircase window; and fine burr-wood doors with crystal handles. Some of the timber windows with leaded-lights also survive. Much of the interior plasterwork survives with intricate cornicing and panelling in the principal rooms; alterations have taken place throughout (especially to the former service quarters). An upstairs bathroom retains mosaic decoration.

HISTORY: Castle Tor and the architectural elements of the garden were designed by Fred Harrild, and constructed by a local builder named William Amos Deakin. The rough, steeply-sloping land, overlooking the sea, was formerly part of Lord Holdon's estate and was purchased in the 1920s by Horace Pickersgill, the son of a Leeds bookmaker, who had been advised to winter in Torquay for health reasons: this was the age of the Devon Riviera, when appreciation of Devon's beauty and climate was very high. Harrild, a former pupil of Sir Edwin Lutyens (articled in 1907), became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; based for a period in Totnes, he exhibited a number of designs for houses and a garden in Torquay at the Royal Academy between 1929-33. He is acknowledged as a leading practitioner of the late Arts and Crafts movement in Devon. A watercolour of the gardens by Cyril Farey was shown at the 1933 RA. Changes took place to the house in c1980 and in 1998.

Castle Tor sits within a Registered Landscape (Grade II) also designed by F Harrild.

Reasons for Listing

Castle Tor is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the house, designed by respected Fred Harrild, is carefully and imaginatively designed in an unusually ambitious interpretation of Devon vernacular on a grand scale. Alterations notwithstanding, the house retains external and internal elements of note.
* Group value: the house sits within a registered landscape, containing other listed structures, which constitites an exceptionally ambitious ensemble.
* Representivity: the house and grounds form a notable example of designing for seaside retirement from the inter-war period.

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