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HER Number:MDV13065
Name:The Oxenham Arms, South Zeal

Summary

Originally built in the 12th century as a monastery, later on in the Tudor period a new front was added to the building. First licensed in 1477, it is one of the oldest coaching inns in the country. Inside the snug bar is 'The South Zeal Menhir', thought to be 5000 years old. The Oxenham Arms has one of the most attractive facades of any building of its period in Devon. Famous visitors have included Charles Dickens (who stayed and wrote much of his Pickwick Papers here), Sir Francis Drake, Admiral Lord Nelson, The Reverend Sabine Baring Gould, Prince Charles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 651 935
Map Sheet:SX69SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSouth Tawton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH TAWTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SE/47
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 95036

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • STANDING STONE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2201 BC (Between))
  • MONASTERY (Constructed, XI to XII - 1100 AD to 1150 AD (Between))
  • MANOR HOUSE (Altered, XIV - 1350 AD to 1399 AD (Between))
  • INN (Altered, XV - 1477 AD to 1499 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1974, SX69SE26, 31/7/1974 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV255532.

Oxenham Arms in South Zeal. Now a hotel, formerly a manor house. A substantial 16th/17th century house comprising a ground floor range with mullioned windows, a carved granite gateway and a fine two storey granite porch with a barrel vaulted lower storey. Locally of interest but not outstanding.


South Tawton Parish Council, 1984, South Tawton Heritage Trail (Pamphlet). SDV240657.

The Oxenham Arms. This is one of the finest buildings dating from the 12th century with a Tudor front and a doorway dated 1510. In the kitchen is a large menhir and the house seems to have been built round this. In the 16th century it became the 'great house' of the Burgoyne family. From 1700 onwards it became a hostelry and named after the coat of arms over the front door.


Department of Environment, 1988, South Tawton, 171-172 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV336452.

Inn, former manor house and home of Burgoyne family. Late 16th century/early 17th century, maybe earlier in parts; 18th, 19th and 20th century modernizations. Mostly large blocks of coursed granite ashlar, more granite rubble to rear. Granite stacks with granite ashlar chimney shafts; slate roof, formerly thatch. Courtyard plan house. The main block, along the front, is set back a little from the street and it faces north-east.
It has a two room plan with through passage between and a wide carriageway through the left. Two storey front porch. Original kitchen (now the dining room) is in a rear block projecting at right angles behind the hall. Rear courtyard has been covered in the 20th century and there are 20th century service buildings across the rear. Two storeys throughout. Good regular but not symmetrical 3:1:2 window front. Wide Tudor arch with moulded surround, sunken spandrels and a hoodmould with the initial B and W carved on the labels. Original carpentry detail is relatively plain. There are several 16th and 17th century doorframes around the place, notably a round-headed one to rear of the front passage and it contains an old studded plank door. Others are Tudor arches. Also some old studded panelled oak doors. What looks like a prehistoric standing stone is situated in the inner wall of the rear parlour and it seems that the house was built around it. Present stairs are late 19th century. See List for further details.


Quick, T., 1992, Dartmoor Inns, 73-4 (Monograph). SDV359976.

Built in the 12th century by lay monks, first licensed in 1477. Shortly afterwards it was almost completely rebuilt and became the dower house of the Burgoynes and then the Oxenham family. The beautiful granite-walled inn has been built around a large granite menhir which is set into the wall of the snug bar and is said to be over 5000 years old. The bottom of this menhir has never been found, despite various attempts to dig to the base; the last being about 15 years ago when a depth of 26 feet was said to have been reached.
When the turnpike road from Okehampton to Exeter passed through South Zeal this would have been a very busy coaching inn. Stables at the rear have been converted into a bungalow. Rumoured to be two tunnels hidden beneath the inn; one leading to Oxenham Manor at South Tawton and one surfacing somewhere on the moor nearby.
Authors Charles Kingsley, Eden Phillpotts and the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould all incorporated this inn into their books, Kingsley recounting the tragic events that befell members of the Oxenham family between 1618-1773 in his book, 'Westward Ho'.


Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.

The Oxenham Arms is depicted on the modern mapping. Map object based on this source.


Historic England, 2017, National Heritage List for England, Accessed 23/01/2017 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359963.

SX 6493 - 6593 SOUTH TAWTON SOUTH ZEAL - 8/236 The Oxenham Arms 20.2.52 GV II*
Inn, former manor house and home of Burgoyne family. Late C16 - early C17, maybe earlier in parts; C18, C19 and C20 modernisations. Mostly large blocks of coursed granite ashlar, more granite rubble to rear; granite stacks with granite ashlar chimney shafts; slate roof, formerly thatch.
Plan and development: courtyard plan house. The main block, along the front, is set back a little from the street and it faces north-east. It has a 2-room plan with through passage between and a wide carriageway through the left (south-east) end. The left room (now the bar) was probably a parlour and it has an end stack backing onto the carriageway and the large alcove alongside once contained a newel stair. The chamber over the carriageway has a gable-end stack. The right room (now a lounge) has a rear lateral stack. There is now a small lobby between this room and the passage. 2-storey front porch. Original kitchen (now the dining room) is in a rear block projecting at right angles behind the hall and has an enormous stack backing onto the hall fireplace. Former hall and kitchen are connected by a narrow corridor alongside the stack. Original wing with end stack projecting at right angles to rear of front parlour. The precise development of the rear is difficult to work out because of several modernisations here in the C19 and C20. The space between the 2 rear wings appears to have been filled quite early (probably in the C17). The passage was extended back and now this part contains the main stair. The parlour wing has been extended back in more than one building phase, (it now contains the kitchen). Rear courtyard has been covered in the C20 and there are C20 service buildings across the rear. 2 storeys throughout. Exterior: good regular but not symmetrical 3:1:2 - window front. The gabled porch to the passage front doorway has a 2-centred outer arch of moulded granite on top of a flight of granite steps. The porch has a barrel vaulted ceiling with narrow granite ribs springing from corbels and has slit windows each side. Above the outer arch is a 3-light granite-mullioned window with elliptical headed lights, sunken spandrels and hoodmould. Each side of the porch are 2 granite-mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, those to right (the hall) a little taller than those to the left (the front parlour). 3 of these are 3-light and one of the hall windows is 4 lights and all contain rectangular panes of leaded glass. All the first floor windows and a small ground floor window immediately left of the porch are C20 casements without glazing bars. At the left end is the very fine carriageway; a wide Tudor arch with moulded surround, sunken spandrels and a hoodmould with the initials B and W carved on the labels. The roof is gable-ended. Rear has mostly C20 casements but the rear parlour has an original 4-light granite-mullioned window with hoodmould.
Good Interior: the original carpentry detail is relatively plain. All the rooms have large soffit-chamfered beams, only the one in the rear parlour has step-stops. The hall has a large granite ashlar fireplace with hollow-chamfered surround a smaller version above once served the chamber but is now in a-corridor. The kitchen behind an enormous fireplace with a soffit-chamfered oak lintel. The front parlour fireplace is blocked by a C20 grate. The rear parlour stack has been rebuilt. It is not even clear whether the ground floor had a fireplace but the chamber above has a partly rebuilt hooded fireplace. There are several C16 and C17 doorframes around the place, notably a round-headed one to rear of the front passage and it contains an old studded plank door. Others are Tudor arches. Also some old studded panelled oak doors. Kitchen wing roof is carried on a side-pegged jointed cruck truss but the rest of the roof was replaced probably in the C18 by A-frame trusses with pegged and spiked lap-jointed collars. One of tile most interesting features in the house is an enormous upright slab of granite built into tile inner wall of the rear parlour. This looks very much like a prehistoric standing stone and it seems that the house was built around it. Present main stairs are late C19. The Oxenham Arms has one of the most attractive facades of any building of its period in Devon. South Zeal is also one of the few medieval boroughs in Devon where many of its C16 and C17 houses still survive.
Listing NGR: SX6510293539


Unattributed, 2017, The Oxenham Arms, Accessed 23/01/2017 (Website). SDV360021.

The oldest heritage inn in Devon and Cornwall and one of the most famous old coaching inns in the United Kingdom.
The South Zeal Menhir stands in the snug bar and is thought to be 5000 years ago. In the early 12th Century, Benedictine Monks came to the village which was then known as Zale and constructed a nine roomed 2 storey granite and oak monastery around the South Zeal Menhir standing stone. Still completely intact today, that monastery and the Menhir form all of the centre, rear and first floor of today's Oxenham Arms.
The Burgoyne family acquired the monastery estate in the early 14th century and constructed a fine granite manor house on the front of the monastery building which formed their home, The Burgoyne Manor. This is the beautiful building that can be seen today from the front road. Four of the hotel rooms, The Chagford Room, The Lydford Room , the Lustleigh Room and the Manaton Room are within the that manor house building, constructed around the year 1350. For nearly 100 years these buildings were known as The Burgoyne Manor.
In the late 1400s, after the two parents of the Burgoyne family passed away, two brothers purchased the estate; John and William Oxenham and the manor was renamed 'The Oxenham Manor' and became the family home for the Oxenhams.
In the year 1477 the brothers 'leased' out the manor house and monastery, getting a license in order that it could become an Inn ('The Oxenham Arms').
Famous visitors have included Charles Dickens (who stayed and wrote much of his Pickwick Papers here), Sir Francis Drake, Admiral Lord Nelson, The Reverend Sabine Baring Gould, Prince Charles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Pamphlet: South Tawton Parish Council. 1984. South Tawton Heritage Trail. Unknown.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1974. SX69SE26. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. 31/7/1974.
  • List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. South Tawton. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 171-172.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2017. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. Accessed 23/01/2017.
  • Monograph: Quick, T.. 1992. Dartmoor Inns. Dartmoor Inns. Paperback Volume. 73-4.
  • Website: Unattributed. 2017. The Oxenham Arms. http://www.theoxenhamarms.com. Website. Accessed 23/01/2017.

Associated Monuments

MDV33693Related to: Moorside, South Zeal (Building)
MDV78013Related to: Oxenham farmstad, South Tawton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jan 24 2017 8:52AM