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Croppins Combe

A Grade II Listed Building in Modbury, Devon

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Latitude: 50.3649 / 50°21'53"N

Longitude: -3.8644 / 3°51'51"W

OS Eastings: 267497

OS Northings: 53330

OS Grid: SX674533

Mapcode National: GBR QB.DH1N

Mapcode Global: FRA 28S2.JBQ

Plus Code: 9C2R947P+X7

Entry Name: Croppins Combe

Listing Date: 2 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1426316

Location: Modbury, South Hams, Devon, PL21

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Modbury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Modbury St George

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Croppins Combe, a farmhouse, originally an open-hall house, retaining C16 roof trusses, developed in the C17 and subsequently. The C19 eastern range is of lesser interest.


Farmhouse, with a C16 core to the western range, which is where the special interest is concentrated. The eastern range dates, largely or wholly, from the C19, and is of lesser interest.

MATERIALS: the walls are of local slatestone or ‘shilstone’ rubble, with some granite dressings, the south elevations being rendered. The pitched roofs are slated, with clay ridge tiles. The western stack is of stone; the two stacks to the east range are of brick. There are three sash windows, probably of pre-1850 date, but possibly re-used; the remainder are C20 replacements.

PLAN: the footprint of the house is linear, on a west/east axis. The older part of the house forms a rectangle to the west, the later eastern range having a square footprint, projecting slightly to the south.

EXTERIOR: the entrance to the west range is through a doorway to the west end of the south elevation. This opening shows signs of recent alteration and now contains glazed plastic doors. The fenestration in this part of the building is irregular. On the ground floor, to the east of the door, is a window with unhorned eight-over-eight sashes; internal evidence shows that there was formerly a window beside it to the east. Above, another window with eight-over-eight sash frames. Above the door, a little to the west, a square window with a late-C20 frame. The tops of the upper windows are level with the eaves. In the western gable elevation, with two rows of pigeon-holes, the stone stack rises from the centre, not showing evidence of rebuilding; there is an area of rebuilding at the south end of the elevation, at the junction with the wall joining the house with the cob barn. The north elevation of the west range shows evidence of much change and patching, with some legible areas. At the centre is a pale scar left by a lean-to shed, recently (2015) removed. Towards the east is a tall opening, now blocked, with a wooden lintel, possibly a window or possibly a door originally reached by a stair; there are sections of high-quality stonework to either side, suggesting this may be an early opening. Further west, a blocked window opening, also with a wooden lintel. Above the eastern opening is an area of cob, probably indicating that the walls originally had cob tops, for bedding-in the roof trusses. To the east of this, at a high level, traces of another window.

The east range is of two bays and, also of two storeys, is taller than the west range. The junction between west and east ranges appears continuous on the north elevation, although the east range is accessed at a lower level, due to the falling ground. The openings on this elevation of the east range have flat arches formed of granite voussoirs, probably re-used, the windows having concrete cills, and there are large granite quoins to the north-east corner. The doorway contains a C19 planked door. The ground-floor window has a C20 frame, as does the eastern first-floor window; the western first-floor window has six-over-six sash frames. The eastern elevation is blind. Rising from the gable is the late-C19 or early-C20 red-brick stack, probably rebuilt, with a stepped detail to the apex; the stack to the western gable of this range is of the same design. On the south elevation, the entrance is to the west; the door appears to be a re-used internal door, having flush panels on the exterior, and moulded panels to the interior. The window openings have concrete cills, and contain late-C20 frames.

INTERIOR: the western room of the western range has a C17 fireplace in the centre of the western wall, with a granite lintel beneath a massive timber bressumer. The ceiling of this room has been covered. In the north wall, a cupboard has been formed within the embrasure of the blocked window. The eastern room of the western range, named as the Parlour, has a central transverse chamfered beam, stopped at the south end in a manner which suggests a C16 date, but apparently cut before the stops, perhaps indicating a shortening for re-use; the north end of this beam has been cut to accommodate the C19 stair, which winds from the north-east corner of the room, rising straight westwards, accessed by a planked door. At the junction with the kitchen is another beam, partly obscured by the wall, and severed and supported at the south end, probably for the creation of the window. In the south-east corner, set into the south wall, the remains of a cloam oven, identifying the position of the original fireplace. Adjacent, in the east wall, a later fireplace, thought to be C17, with a mid-C19 granite firesurround with chamfered edges. The extant window has C19 shutters; the blocked window is evident to the east. Fixed to the wall below the western window, a plain timber bench on curved brackets; the bench is continued round the corner on the dividing wall in later and rougher construction, with plain horizontal panelling behind. On the first floor, the stairwell is protected by a plain C19 balustrade and handrail. Above, in the north wall, a cupboard is formed from a blocked window. The eastern section of the range has been partitioned to create a corridor to the north, and bedroom; the partition extends along the north/south wall below, providing a division between the two upper rooms. Above the eastern section, two arch-braced collar roof trusses, apparently of C16 date, survive. The pegged structure, with morticed and tenoned collars, and two rows of threaded purlins, has some blackening, consistent with the effect of smoke from a fire in a hall, formerly open from ground to roof level. Most of the purlins have been cut, but in places they extend some way beyond the trusses. On the surviving evidence, it seems possible that there were originally more than two open trusses to this part of the roof, but it is likely that the surviving structure represents the size of the original hall. The three trusses in the western part of the range, thought to be later, are of much less refined construction, being composed of roughly hewn timbers forming A-frames with the collars lapped and pegged to the principal rafters. Both sections of roof have a layer of packing on the outside of the trusses, for reducing the pitch of the roof slopes to take slates rather than thatch. A ceiling installed immediately below the roof trusses is now (2015) in a state of dilapidation; part of the bottoms of both sets of trusses can be seen embedded in the north wall. There are chimney openings in both rooms; that in the eastern room appears to be C19, and that in the western room C20.

The eastern range is entered by opposing doors at the western end of the range, with a passage between, occupied by a straight stair with a cupboard beneath. The stair, which follows an early-C19 model, may have remained in place after the post-1841 rebuilding, or may have been re-used from elsewhere. The stair has an open string with moulded treads; the ramped handrail is supported by stick balusters and moulded newel posts, with paired newels at the landing, where the balustrade returns to enclose the stairwell. The passage is floored with stone flags. In the north-east part of the range is the pantry, with a fireplace in the east wall, its chamfered granite surround similar to that in the eastern room of the west range. To the south, the sitting room has C19 window shutters and panelling, and a mid-C20 firesurround. Upstairs, there is a small bathroom to the north-west, and bedrooms to north and south; there are no visible historic features within these rooms, other than the fireplace in the south bedroom, from which the chimneypiece and grate have been removed. Above the rooms, the scissor-trussed roof is visible, apparently of late-C19 construction, though possibly dating from the early C20.


In 1490 Richard Croppyng was recorded as having ‘messuages, lands and tenements’ in Modbury; name of Croppingiscombe is recorded in a deed of 1500.

The site of the current house, known as Croppins Combe, is on sheltered ground approximately 350m to the south of Shilstone House (listed at Grade II as Shilston Barton), though there is no documented historical connection between the two properties. The bridleway which now runs to the north of the farmstead formerly passed through the yard, as is shown on the tithe map of 1841. Shilston Brook flows to the south of the site. The small quarry to the north of the site appears to have been dug first at some time between 1841 and the survey made for the Ordnance Survey map of 1887; the stone was probably used for building works in the later C19. The farm was occupied by the Rogers family from at least 1881, until 1965. Thereafter another family rented the farm until 2013. It is currently vacant (2015).

The house has a C16 core, in the western range of the house, which appears to have contained an open hall. The usual pattern for a house of this type and date would suggest that there was an inner room to the west of the hall, with a cross-passage to the east, and a service room beyond that. From the evidence of the building, it appears that the western room was substantially rebuilt, probably in the C17, at which time the chimneys at either end of the western range were installed, and the roof trusses probably replaced over the western portion of the range. The cross passage, and the ‘lower’ end of the house would, on this model, have occupied the area now occupied by the eastern range, with a reminder of the cross-passage in the opposing doors at the west end of that wing. No certain date for the ceiling-in of the hall can be proposed at present, but it seems likely that this took place in the C17, with the other works to the western range.

The tithe map of 1841 shows the house occupying much the same footprint as it does today, though it is thought that the eastern range of the house has been largely re-built since that time, making some use of the original fabric, and of re-used material from this site and elsewhere. The tithe map marks an agricultural building (possibly formerly in domestic use) attached to the south side of the building, removed by the time of the 1887 OS map; this suggests there could not have been openings on the south side of the building used as they are today, though it is possible that, with the principal entrance to the house being on the north, farmyard side, there was a rear entrance connecting with the additional structure.

Both ranges of the house show evidence of alteration during the C20, including the replacement of the majority of the windows.

The farmhouse stands on the south side of a small yard, formed by a group of agricultural buildings in a loose courtyard plan. There have been buildings occupying roughly the sites of the four extant buildings since at least the time of the 1841 tithe map, and it is thought that all four are probably at least in part the same structures, though with some major enlargement and rebuilding. The tithe map also shows a building to the east of the farmhouse, now lost.

Reasons for Listing

Croppins Combe, a farmhouse, originally an open-hall house, retaining C16 roof trusses, developed in the C17 and subsequently, with a C19 eastern range of lesser interest, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: for the surviving core of a C16 open-hall house, with its well-constructed arch-braced collar trusses, the smoke-blackening a vivid reminder of past heating technology; the C17 development is evident in the fabric, including surviving fireplaces and beams;
* Historical: as a relatively rare survival of this date and type, which despite later changes remains legible; the quality of the roof indicates a dwelling of some status, diminished in later years.

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