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Coronation Boathouse and adjacent store building

A Grade II Listed Building in Thurlestone, Devon

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Latitude: 50.2788 / 50°16'43"N

Longitude: -3.8708 / 3°52'14"W

OS Eastings: 266799

OS Northings: 43763

OS Grid: SX667437

Mapcode National: GBR QB.KTPM

Mapcode Global: FRA 28S9.7TT

Plus Code: 9C2R74HH+GM

Entry Name: Coronation Boathouse and adjacent store building

Listing Date: 13 August 2021

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1475993

ID on this website: 101475993

Location: Bantham, South Hams, Devon, TQ7

County: Devon

District: South Hams

Civil Parish: Thurlestone

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


A large boathouse of 1937 built to mark the coronation of King George VI and a small adjacent stone store building formerly part of a pilchard fishing community on a small quay.


A boathouse of 1937 built to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI to the design of J-B Sebastian Comper for Commander C E Evans; and an adjacent stone building of probable C18 date.

MATERIALS: constructed of brick with steel and timber floors and timber roof structure. The walls are faced in local rubble stone to the ground floor and render to the first floor. The hipped roof is thatched in reed and there are timber details and fixings including jetty mouldings and two painted ships’ figureheads. The exterior staircase at the west end is of cast concrete. The window frames are metal with leaded panes and the cills are slate. The window lintels are timber planks laid on edge. The interior has a poured concrete ground floor with a boarded first floor loft.

PLAN: built on an east-west orientation it is of two storeys and largely an open rectangular plan with an external stair to the first floor of the west end.

EXTERIOR: the building is in a Tudor vernacular style with a jettied rendered first floor below an oversailing thatched roof and above a rubble stone ground floor. The moulded timber jetty is a prominent visual feature and there are timber dragon beams and braces to each quayside jetty corner with an attached painted ship’s figurehead. The east gable end faces the approach from the village path and has a double central opening with sliding doors from a sloping stone slip. The opening has a cambered head of stone voussoirs and to the right is a stone plaque that reads: THIS BOATHOUSE WAS ERECTED BY/ LT COMDR CHARLES E EVANS RNVR/ AO DNI 1937 TO COMMEMORATE THE/ ACCESSION OF HIS MOST GRACIOUS/ MAJESTY KING GEORGE THE SIXTH./ JBS COMPER ARCHITECT PEARN BROS. BUILDERS. To the first floor is a four-light casement with timber hood mould extending to the eaves at each side. Above the mould is a timber niche with a gold painted Royal Crown and Lion, with 1937 inscribed below.

The quayside front has two sets of tripartite casements to each side of central plank doors. To the corners at each end are painted ships’ figureheads attached to a timber brace below the jetty dragon beam. The figurehead to the left has a small wooden plaque noting its history. There are five sets of casements to the first floor, alternately of three and two lights, breaking through the thatched eaves.

To the west end there is a door to the ground floor and a four-light casement and door to the first floor. The door is served by an external concrete stair with concrete balustrade to the right side. Behind the stair is a plank door to a cloakroom and cast-iron rainwater goods are fixed to the wall.

INTERIOR: sliding timber doors at the west end lead into the open plan ground floor (with small partitioned-off area at the west end). The first-floor structure has exposed beams secured by steel plates and machine sawn joists, and with some steel reinforcement above the ledged double-leaf plank doors to the north (quayside) wall. A timber ladder stair to the first floor is placed laterally against the centre of the back wall. The first floor has a partitioned workshop to the east end and a cloakroom and door to the exterior staircase to the west end. The west end is partially lofted but the roof structure, including six roof trusses with metal straps and bolts to the collars, is otherwise exposed. The window frames have metal fitments.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the adjacent stone building is square on plan and has double braced and ledged doors to the east elevation and a casement to the north, overlooking the estuary. The hipped roof is thatched in reed and the roof structure is mostly constructed of unworked timbers although there are two machine sawn collars used to store boating materials above. The roof is partly supported on cob infill above the stone walls. In the lower section of the north and south walls are square voids possibly for former shelving or floors.

The buildings stand on a stone quay that was at least partly rebuilt in the 1930s.


The village of Bantham and its quay stand on the River Avon estuary in Devon and the adjacent promontory of Bantham Ham (Scheduled Monument 1019322) has origins as a Neolithic settlement and served as a trading port from the Roman period. The boathouse on the quay was designed by (John-Baptiste) Sebastian Comper (1891-1979) for Lieutenant Commander Charles E Evans RNVR, the owner of the village of Bantham and its environs since 1922, to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in 1937. Comper was a son of acclaimed Victorian church architect Sir (John) Ninian Comper (1864-1960) and his later designs included the Nurses’ Chapel in Westminster Abbey (1950).

The boathouse was built by Pearn Bros. alongside a stone-walled, thatched building on the quay. This small structure was probably used by the fishing industry from the C18 or early C19 along with two other adjacent buildings that are shown on the Thurlestone Tithe Map of around 1842, and the Ordnance Survey Maps of 1887 and 1906, and on historic photographs. The quay and neighbouring buildings formed part of an active pilchard fishing community on the estuary of the River Avon that went into decline by the late C19. In 1937 the two other quay buildings were demolished to make way for the boathouse and the quay was reduced in width. Some of the stone from the demolished structures may have been used for the new boathouse, which was used for boat building and storage as well as social events. The building has been little altered since that time although the two ships figureheads to exterior corners facing the quay have been restored and reset. A painted board beside the figurehead to the north-east corner identifies it as being from a missionary ship bought and equipped by Lady Franklin in memory of her husband, Sir John Franklin, who died in 1847 during his voyage to discover the Northwest Passage. Some reconfiguration of the partitions to the first floor took place in the later C20. The adjacent stone building has had some repair and replacement and is used for boat storage in 2021. The bank behind the boathouse was subject to repair and strengthening in 2021 and there was a proposal for the conversion of the boathouse to a restaurant and café in that year.

Reasons for Listing

The Coronation Boathouse and adjacent store building at Bantham Quay are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for the confident and striking design as a very substantial boathouse on a small Devon quay that presents a very distinctive character as a landmark feature at its riverside location;
* the boathouse is an unapologetically historicist design that touches on Elizabethan traditions as well as maritime themes, and yet also features modern flourishes, all under the auspices of celebrating the coronation of a new British monarch;
* for successfully uniting the local vernacular materials and building traditions with early C20 construction techniques, taking many cues for the modest adjacent fish cellar and another nearby listed boathouse, and using high quality craftsmanship;
* as a modest but well-built structure, the thatched stone store building is an evocative and well-preserved example of the buildings that once were commonplace across the coastal landing places of Devon and Cornwall but have been prone to loss and conversion to other uses. The retention of its modest character and fabric and features such as the wall niches in the walls is increasingly rare;
* alterations to the buildings are minor in terms of historic fabric and largely comprise like-for-like repairs.

Historic interest:

* the boathouse has the unusual claim to being a substantial building constructed to mark a Royal coronation, in this case of King George VI who ascended the throne in 1937, as embodied in the Royal insignia and wall plaque to the east gable end. It has strong cultural interest for its association with an important national event;
* the buildings illustrate important aspects of the nation’s history as both are uncommon survivals regionally and nationally of structures that represent evolved maritime pursuits and traditions.

Group value:

* the buildings have a strong historic group value with each other, with the quay itself and with other buildings in the locality including a boathouse and inn (both listed at Grade II) as part of an evolved pilchard fishing community that was established in the C18 and has been carefully managed as part of a wider estate since the early C20.

External Links

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