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Historic England Research Records

Compton Castle

Hob Uid: 446388
Location :
Devon
South Hams
Marldon
Grid Ref : SX8654064850
Summary : Manor house of circa 1320, altered and extended circa 1450. The house was further extended and fortified circa 1500-early 16th century. Used as farm after 1750, the house was restored in 1930-55 and partly rebuilt in 1954-55. The site includes the remains of a medieval fishpond, later formal gardens and an 18th century barn.
More information : (SX 86546485) Compton Castle (NR) (NT) (NAT). (1)

Compton Castle is one of the few fortified houses to have survived without the alterations and additions which usually modify the character of such buildings.

The earliest part of the castle, and the nucleus around which the rest developed, is the hall, dating to the time of Joan, daughter of William de Compton, who married Geoffrey Gilbert before 1329. The hall had fallen into ruin by 1750, but was rebuilt in 1954-5.

The buttery and pantry at the east end of the hall, and the solar and cellar at the west end, conformed to the Medieval plan and date from the first building.

The chapel has a doorway of this period, and a licence was granted in 1350 to William Gilbert, by the Bishop of Exeter, for a portable altar.

In the second building period, 1450-70, the solar and cellar were rebuilt, the cellar becoming a withdrawing room. A third building period occurred about 1520, when the area was suffering from French raids, and the towers and curtain wall date from this time.

The house remained in the Gilbert family until 1800, was bought back by them in 1930, and was given to the National Trust in
1951. HHR Grade 1. (2-3)

Compton Castle, Grade I. Medieval fortified house, seat of the Gilberts and property of the National Trust. Circa 1320 manor house with work of circa 1450, extended and fortified in circa 1500 to early C16. Restored circa 1930-55. Hall rebuilt 1954-5. Built of local limestone rubble with red sandstone and white Beer-stone dressings and granite corbels, lintels and copings. Slate roofs. Only parts of the screens passage survive of the early C14 four-bay hall which was reconstructed in C20. At the west end the solar and withdrawing room with a polygonal bay window to the west, a large tower on the south west and a chapel projecting at right angles to the hall to the north west are all circa mid C15. The chapel has Perpendicular four-light windows and a pointed turned vaulted roof with a priest's room above. At the east service end of the hall the buttery and pantry and offices including angle towers to the north east and south east and the kitchen wing to the south east with another tower on the south east corner are all circa 1500. Also of circa 1500 is the north front wall in line with the end of the projecting chapel and service wings which forms a small court in front of the hall. This front elevation is almost symmetrical and has a contemporary corner tower to the right hand (north west) to balance the left hand (north east) tower, both gabled (although in different directions) and with corbelled oriels. The main portcullis entrance is slightly left of centre with its corbelled machicolations and battlements to the high courtyard wall, the Perpendicular north window of the chapel on the right hand and the service room to the left. To the far left another portcullis to the postern gateway. Outer walls to the east, west and south with another tower on the south east corner circa early C16. All the towers are square with gabled roofs. Compton was abandoned by the Gilbert family in circa 1750 (in favour of Sandridge, Stoke Gabriel q.v.) and became a farm. It was bought back by the Gilberts in C20. As well as reconstructing the hall Compton was thoroughly restored. Originally, the land was held by the Comptons. Joan daughter and heiress of William de Compton married Geoffrey Gilbert who built the house in circa 1320. It was the home of Sir Humphrey Gilbert the explorer and navigator who annexed Newfoundland in 1583. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was half brother of Sir Walter Raleigh.

References: Country Life, volume 170, page 1546, 5 November 1981. Transactions of the Devonshire Association, volume 88,
pages 75-85. National Trust Guide Book, 1952.

Barn immediately north of Compton Castle, Grade II*.
Barn. Circa C18. Stone rubble with dressed quoins. Thatched roof with gabled and hipped ends and widely overhanging eaves on east side facing forecourt to Compton Castle q.v. Central cart doors flanked by flat buttresses, two similar buttresses to right flanking blocked cart entrances. Similar west side but cart entrances not blocked. Some ventilation slits. C20 window and doors in south end. Roofs trusses are C20. Grade II* because of its proximity to Compton Castle. (4)

SX 86576492. A fortified manor house of the 14th century, extensively rebuilt in the later 15th/early 16th century. The site includes the remains of a medieval fishpond, later formal gardens and a threshing barn. Scheduled. The house is also Listed Grade I and the barn Grade II*. (5)

Listed as a strong house by Cathcart King. (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1972
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Source Number : 2
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Totnes RD March 1970 17
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Source Number : 3
Source : Compton Castle, Devon [guide]
Source details : Compton Castle National Trust Guide 1971 Plan
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Source Number : 4
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Dist of south Hams, Devon, May 1985, 34-35
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Source Number : 5
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduling amendment, 16-OCT-2002
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 121
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Fishpond
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : c1320
Monument End Date : 1330
Monument Start Date : 1310
Monument Type : Manor House, Hall House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Mid C15
Monument End Date : 1466
Monument Start Date : 1433
Monument Type : Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Altered c1450
Monument End Date : 1460
Monument Start Date : 1440
Monument Type : Manor House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : c1500/early C16
Monument End Date : 1532
Monument Start Date : 1490
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Hall House, Courtyard, Curtain Wall, Gatehouse, Watch Tower, Service Wing, Kitchen
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Formal Garden, Terraced Garden, Ha Ha
Evidence : Earthwork, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C18
Monument End Date : 1799
Monument Start Date : 1700
Monument Type : Barn
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : After 1750
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1750
Monument Type : Farmhouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Restored 1930-55
Monument End Date : 1955
Monument Start Date : 1930
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Rebuilt 1954-55
Monument End Date : 1955
Monument Start Date : 1954
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DV 114
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 34879
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 100611
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 100612
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 86 SE 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT COMPTON CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31