HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV10055
Name:Mamhead House


Mamhead House built in 19th century on the site of a medieval castle


Grid Reference:SX 930 810
Map Sheet:SX98SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMamhead
Ecclesiastical ParishMAMHEAD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX98SW/4
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 85973

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX98SW3 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV337173.

Whether the sham castle is built on ancient foundations is not sure, but unlikely, as there have been three houses of three distinct periods called Mamhead house. Whether a medieval castle stood where the sham castle now stands is not ascertained but it would have been an impossible place to defend.

Department of Environment, 1952, St Thomas RD, 85 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV129122.

Mamhead House, 19th century, two storeys and attics. Imitation Tudor mansion with gables, turrets, gothic mullioned windows, chimneys. Built by Salvin in 1833. Interior is gothic. Elaborate plaster fireplaces and ceilings in all rooms.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: South Devon, 202 (Monograph). SDV336217.

Mamhead House. Neo Tudor French plasterwork by John Willement around 1832 on site of alleged medieval castle. Immediately behind Mamhead House on the foundation of a genuine medieval castle, are outbuildings in the form of a sham castle, copied from Belsay, Northumberland.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 431 (Monograph). SDV17562.

The present house was built in 1830, designed by Salvin.

Hussey, C., 1955, Untitled Source (Article in Serial). SDV337175.

Hussey, C., 1955, Untitled Source (Article in Serial). SDV337176.

French, K. + French, C., 1957, Devonshire Plasterwork, 135 (Article in Serial). SDV4676.

Other details: Plate 16.

Baldwin, M., 1957, Untitled Source, 151-2 (Article in Serial). SDV337174.

In 1822 the old 17th century house was demolished to build new house. Designed originally by Charles Fowler and adapted by Anthony Salvin.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 146 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

No documentary evidence for castle, & earthworks not convincingly medieval

Department of Environment, 1988, Mamhead (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337182.

Dawlish College (formerly listed as Mamhead House). Country house, now in use as special school, originally the seat of the Newman family. 1827-33 by Anthony Salvin for Sir R.W. Newman, Bt. on a ground plan by Charles Fowler. Fine ashlar, Bathstone with gabled slate roofs and chimney stacks with a lavish variety of ornamental, grouped, Tudor style chimney shafts. Stylistically remarkable, orchestrating Gothic, Tudor and Renaissance influences in a highly original way. Plan: In 1822 Fowler provided Newman with several designs for remodelling old Mamhead in the Italian palazzo style "a symmetrical plan ......., a grand stair case on the central axis rising from a lateral corridor in rear of the suite of reception rooms in the east front. Its plan is thus an E, with the open side at the back closed by a low range of offices protracted at both ends as wings" (Hussey). Salvin's plan is essentially the same but is given an asymmetrical guise, firstly by the choice of a new irregular site which means that the actual symmetry of the plan is rarely revealed; secondly, by the foil of the castellated stable block, set at an oblique angle to the house and high above it and, thirdly, by a south west conservatory extension and pavilion. The main E plan facing east, is entered at the north end into an entrance hall with a billiard room to the east: the principal rooms facing east off a vaulted corridor are dining room, drawing room, and library with a south-facing breakfast room at the end of the corridor. The main stair rises in a west projection off the corridor, opposite a vestibule between the dining and drawing rooms which gives access to the terrace. The corridor was conceived as a statue gallery with heroic figures of English Royalty and Worthies and return at either end, linking up with the service corridor, in the service wing to the north: thus corridors ring the central courtyard. Exterior: Very complete down to the extremely ornate down-pipes and rainwater heads. 2 storeys and an attic behind a parapet, embattled to the main range with tall pinnacles, deep plinth, moulded string course below the parapet and to the first floor of the main range. Stone mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, transomed to the main range. Symmetrical 5-bay entrance (north) front with a 2-storey porch in the centre with a steep gable, moulded Tudor arched doorframe with carved spandrels and an embatled oriel window with the Newman motto carved below the lights. The north end of the service wing projects to the front at the right (the kitchen) with a spectacular: stack with set-offs and corbels and 5 chimney shafts. The east elevation, with views down to the sea, is 9 bays, symmetrical, with steep gables to left and right and to the centre, which projects. Embattled 2-storey canted bays to left and right, the central projecting bay with doorways to each return and extravagant polygonal buttresses which rise as massive pinnacles with crocketted finials. The bay is corbelled above the ground floor window; first floor lobed battlemented oriel window. Symmetrical 5-bay south elevation with 2 gables to the front and an embattled first floor oriel in the centre. The south-west end of the service wing returns at the left end but is continued as a splendid single-storey 4-bay conservatory with moulded Tudor-arched doorways with glazed doors with iron tracery, the verticals cast to look like slender, buttresses with set-offs. Exquisite naturalistic flower carving in the spandrels, the parapet carved with a quotation from Chaucer's Roman de la Rose in Gothic script. The conservatory terminates in a 2-tier pavilion with iron traceried doors on the south and east sides. The rear elevation is single storey in the centre of the service wing with 2-storey embattled polygonal towers to left and right. Tudor arched doorway into the servant's hall with a rabbit and goose carved in the spandrels. The stair projection of the main range has a massive mullioned stair window with 3 transoms. Interior: Remarkably complete with the exception of the statues by Charles R. Smith (Gunnis) which were sold in the 1980s. The quality of craftsmanship is of the first rank and Salvin's attention to detail, including door knobs and hinges, is meticulous. The survival of original paint and graining, some light fittings, built-in furniture designed by Salvin and stained glass by Thomas Willement (some temporarily removed for safety) is notable. Willement was also responsible for the plumbing. The entrance hall is a single space with the billiard room with a panelled dado and a decorated ribbed plaster ceiling with fleur, de lis, Tudor roses and armorial bearings; windows glazed with ornamental leading with white glass. A timber Gothic screen divides the hall from the billiard room which has a splendid Gothic chimney piece, minutely-carved, with painted armorial bearings in relief. The spine corridor has a coved and vaulted plaster ceiling with traceried panels and bosses, the details picked out in gold; original oil lamps with ornamental iron brackets; stained glass by Willement. Tudor arches with panelled soffits lead into the vestibule (to the east) and the stair (to the west). Presumably plaster, fan-vaulted, partly-painted ceiling to the stair hall; 24-light stair, window with stained glass. Splendid stair with one flight dividing into 2 at the landing with a traceried balustrade, said by Hussey to be cast iron, retaining original paint. The newels at the bottom are crowned with original oil lamps decorated with brass angels and foliage. On the stair side the arch into the corridor has carved spandrels and a carved Gothic text punning on the name Newman; 4-bay arcade at the top of the stairs into the upper corridor. 2 statues, presumably part of the sequence by Smith, stand at the bottom of the stair. The vestibule also has a vaulted ceiling and stained glass window. The dining room has a panelled dado and decorated plaster ceiling with wood-grained ribs, fleur de lis and Tudor rose decorations. Fine Gothic chimney-piece wih statue niches, original (and very early), brightly-coloured encaustic tiles, a Gothic grate and fender and original paint, including the spandrels which are carved with fruit. At the north end a free Jacobean style table is built into a panelled recess, the recess flanked by swags of flowers and grain carved in a late 17th century manner. Exquisite stained glass with naturalistic painting of fruit in the top lights. The drawing room has a decorated plaster ceiling in an original pattern, loosely based on Jacobean strapwork but enriched with medallions of painted flowers, panelled walls; elaborate overdoors and a fine Gothic chimney-piece with a mirror overmantel; stained glass. The library has a decorated plaster ceiling, entirely wood-grained, the ribs enriched with sprays of plaster flowers and leaves. The original fitted book-cases survive with coving and a cornice carved with animal masks. Gothic chimney-piece with carved demi-angles, the heads broken off but in safe keeping with a mirror overmantel crowned with strapwork. Panelled walls; stained glass. The morning room has a similar ceiling, carved shelves and a Gothic chimney-piece with delicately carved figures. The first floor corridor is top-lit with a flat ceiling with panels formed by moulded ribs with lively carved bosses at the inter.sections. Gothic chimney-pieces survive in the principal bedrooms. The service rooms also retain their, original Tudor style chimney-pieces, cornices and original joinery including bookshelves in the servant's hall with the text; "The books inscribed with the initials MJN were selected by Mary Jane Newman during the last days of her life and directed by her to be placed in this Hall for the perusal and edification of the faithful servants", The conservatory has a partly-glazed roof carried on moulded tie beam trusses (possibly cast iron) with pierced trefoils in the spandrels. The pavilion has a vaulted plaster ceiling with naturalistically carved flower bosses. Mamhead House was one of Salvin's first major buildings. An outstanding Country house, highly original stylistically with craftsmanship of the first order. The survival of vulnerable original colour: in the interior is remarkable. Hussey, C. English Country Houses: Late Georgian (1958). Salvin's original drawings survive in the R.I.B.A. Drawings Collection.

Sladen, T., 1993, Coming Unstuck: The Removal of Fixtures from Listed Buildings, 2, 6-7 (Report - non-specific). SDV358337.

Owners of listed buildings are frequently not aware that the fixtures of their buildings cannot be removed without permission. One such case is Mamhead Park, where five pairs of statues were sold. The Long gallery at Mamhead was unique - the only known example of a Gothic Revival gallery designed to house sculpture rather than the paintings customary in the Tudor period. Also the unusual thing about the ten statues specially commissioned for the Mamhead gallery was that they were all "heroes" of the Tudor period designed to match the architectural style of the building. These were sold in the 1980s without listed building consent, although they were of no great interest or value except in the context of Mamhead House. See report for full details.

English Heritage, 2003, Mamhead House (Register of Parks and Gardens in England). SDV337177.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV129122List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1952. St Thomas RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 85.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 431.
SDV336217Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: South Devon. The Buildings of England: South Devon. Paperback Volume. 202.
SDV337173Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX98SW3. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337174Article in Serial: Baldwin, M.. 1957. Archaeological Journal. 114. Unknown. 151-2.
SDV337175Article in Serial: Hussey, C.. 1955. Country Life. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV337176Article in Serial: Hussey, C.. 1955. Country Life. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV337177Register of Parks and Gardens in England: English Heritage. 2003. Mamhead House. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Unknown.
SDV337182List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Mamhead. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 146.
SDV358337Report - non-specific: Sladen, T.. 1993. Coming Unstuck: The Removal of Fixtures from Listed Buildings. The Victorian Society. A4 Paperback + Digital. 2, 6-7.
SDV4676Article in Serial: French, K. + French, C.. 1957. Devonshire Plasterwork. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 135.

Associated Monuments

MDV72979Related to: Brinshill Cottage south-east of Mamhead House (Building)
MDV62385Related to: Building Fragment from Mamhead House Estate (Monument)
MDV31985Related to: Dawlish Lodge (Building)
MDV31986Related to: Forest Gate Lodge north-east of Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72908Related to: Fountain at Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72981Related to: Garden wall to the southeast of Mamhead House (Building)
MDV16986Related to: Icehouse in Mamhead Park (Building)
MDV72976Related to: Kitchen Garden Wall at Mamhead House (Building)
MDV10069Related to: Mamhead House (Monument)
MDV32495Related to: Mamhead Park (Park/Garden)
MDV10060Related to: Obelisk in Mamhead Park (Building)
MDV31987Related to: Orangery at Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72980Related to: Palm House in Mamhead Park (Building)
MDV72911Related to: Seat in the Garden to the South of Mamhead House (Building)
MDV31988Related to: Stable Block at Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72909Related to: Sundial at Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72910Related to: Terrace Steps & Urns to the South of Mamhead House (Building)
MDV72907Related to: Terrace Wall to the East & South of Mamhead House (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 19 2015 4:21PM