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HER Number:MDV10167
Name:Undercroft in Broadclyst Churchyard Wall


The remains of a vaulted undercroft of a the first floor hall of a medieval manor house are visible in the churchyard wall below the gardens of 1 and 2 Queens Square. The manor house was that of the Nonnats who held the manor of Broadclyst from circa 1100 to 1325. Other architectural fragments are also visible in the wall.


Grid Reference:SX 982 973
Map Sheet:SX99NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBroad Clyst
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBROADCLYST

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX99NE/13
  • Old SAM County Ref: 437
  • Old SAM Ref: 29692

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • UNDERCROFT (Built, XI - 1001 AD to 1100 AD (Between))

Full description

Ancient Monuments Inspectorate, 1959, Ancient Monuments Site Visit (Report - Survey). SDV127410.

Site visit July 1959. In the church-yard. The remains of a vaulted undercroft belonging to the manor of the Nonnats who held the manor from about 1100 to 1325. Three bays with corbels and springers survive in a wall. Also surviving are the remains of return walls with indications of a doorway in the north wall. A trench dug beside the east wall has since been filled with rubbish. There is vegetation on the wall-top.

Everett, A. W., 1959, Remains of Vaulted Cellar, Broadclyst (Un-published). SDV351885.

Remains of a vaulted cellar which formed part of the ancient manor house of Broadclyst. The accompanying photo from a newspaper article shows the east wall of the cellar, with the corbels which carried the vaulting. At the north end is part of the north wall. This contains part of the doorway by which the cellar was reached by way of a flight of four steps from an adjoining chamber or passage. The cellar was a little over 31 feet long and about 15 feet wide.

Wood, M., 1965, The English Medieval House, 93 (Monograph). SDV337307.

One side wall of the solar undercroft is visible in an extension of the churchyard. Wood comments on the unusual double-chamfered abacus to the corbels. The hollow chamfered ribs suggest a date of circa 1300.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1982, SX99NE10 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV127423.

Site visit: 11th Novmber 1982. Little now remains of the undercroft. Only the north and east walls survive as part of the churchyard walls. Remains of the doorway are visible on the north side. An arch is also visible on the east site. The area inside the walls is slightly sunken indicating the position of the former under-croft.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Undercroft at Broadclyst (Site Visit). SDV127422.

Site visit 11th July 1983. Condition as described previously. Much overgrown. Other architectural fragments are built into the east wall of the churchyard. The trench mentioned is no longer visible (the trench was dug by A. W. Everett - M. Laithwaite pers comm to C. G. Henderson).

Sainsbury, I. S., 1990, undercroft at Broadclyst (Report - Survey). SDV127418.

The remains of a vaulted undercroft of a medieval manor house are visible in a 15 metre long, 1.5 metre high sidewall of the solar. It is incorporated in the north-east boundary wall of a northwards extension to the graveyard. On the south-west side of the wall the trench which exposed the vaulting has now been backfilled and the ground planted with shrubs and flowers. No measurements or architectural details are evident, but the tops of three arches are visible in the face of the roughly coursed red sandstone walling which is surmounted by a modern turf wall about 1m high.
Photos showing a general view of wall, close up of central bay and southern bay are held in the archive.

Blaylock, S., 1996, Undercroft (Site Visit). SDV127424.

Site visit 6th May 1996. Grass and nettles on wall top. Flower bed in front. Architectural details noted and sketch made.

Unknown, 1998, Undercroft at Broadclyst (Ground Photograph). SDV351888.

Salvatore, J., 1998, Undercroft at Broadclyst, MPP/144470 (Site Visit). SDV127425.

Site visit 16th October 1998. Part of the remains of a medieval undercroft, this being part of the manor house of the Nonants family who held the manor from about AD1100 to 1340, are known to survive. The manor house itself no longer survives above ground but the remains of its undercroft have been revealed in excavation and its east wll is preserved in the e boundary wall of Broadclyst churchyard; further settlement remains associated with the manor house are considered to lie immediately to the east of this wall.
Excavations by Everett in 1959 revealed the well preserved walls of a stone built vault of 3 bays with 4 vaulting corbels for the springing of wall ribs, this type of vaulting technique is known as quadripartite as the vaulting of each bay is divided into quarters by stone ribbing in order to strengthen the load-bearing qualities of its roof. The results of Everett's excavation were never published and the excavation trenches were backfilled although he recorded dimensions of about 10 metres by 4.5 metres for the extent of the vault. The upper courses of the undercroft's east wall have been incorporated, in antiquity, into a roughly coursed red sandstone wall which acts as a boundary wall for the graveyard of the Church of St John the Baptist (this church was largely rebuilt, probably between 1395 and 1419). A 10 metre length of the inner (west face) of the medieval undercroft's east wall, that section exposed by Everett's excavations, projects about 1.5 metres above ground level. It comprises 3 relieving arches of moulded sandstone and local volcanic trap closed within a wall of the same material.
The tympana are infilled with volcanic stone masonry. The remaining masonry of the wall, together with the vaulting corbels, north wall foundations, entrance, and 4 steps, are known from excavation photographs and unpublished records, to survive below the present ground surface. Studies of the photographs and field notes have suggested a date of around 1300 for its construction and it is considered, from comparison with other known examples of similar date, to have been overlain by the solar (main living chamber) of the manor house. The undercroft was probably terraced into the slope of the ground which falls gentle from east towards the River Clyst. This appears to be confirmed as the outer face of the e wall of the undercroft is entirely hidden by the higher ground on that side of the building. However, the flight of steps which were seen in excavation in an entrance in the north wall demonstrates that its floor was at least partially sunken below ground level. A substantial artificial platform lies to the w of the undercroft and this suggests a complex of considerable size in the medieval period with the area of higher ground immediately east of the undercroft considered to preserve remains of the ancillary buildings which would have been at the core of the manor house settlement; this area appears to have remained largely undisturbed, apart from small scale cultivation, since the medieval period.
It is unclear what befell the manor house itself following the death of its owner, Sir Roger de Nonant, some time around 1340 but architectural fragments from the house have been recorded reused as building stone in some of the field walls in and around the area in which the house stood and other small standing sections of wall appear to survive within hedge banks although their antiquity has not been firmly established.

National Trust, 2000, Killerton Estate Archaeological Survey. Part 3. The Cottages and Broadclyst, 322 (Report - Survey). SDV128325.

One of only 3 undercrofts of first floor halls surviving in Devon. The undercroft is below the gardens of 1 and 2 Queens Square Cottages.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV127410Report - Survey: Ancient Monuments Inspectorate. 1959. Ancient Monuments Site Visit. Ancient Monuments Inspectorate. Unknown.
SDV127418Report - Survey: Sainsbury, I. S.. 1990. undercroft at Broadclyst. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Unknown.
SDV127422Site Visit: Griffith, F. M.. 1983. Undercroft at Broadclyst. Not Applicable.
SDV127423Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1982. SX99NE10. OSAD Card. Card Index.
SDV127424Site Visit: Blaylock, S.. 1996. Undercroft. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV127425Site Visit: Salvatore, J.. 1998. Undercroft at Broadclyst. Monument Protection Programme. Unknown. MPP/144470.
SDV128325Report - Survey: National Trust. 2000. Killerton Estate Archaeological Survey. Part 3. The Cottages and Broadclyst. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 322. [Mapped feature: #1223 Map object approximate based on this source., ]
SDV337307Monograph: Wood, M.. 1965. The English Medieval House. The English Medieval House. Unknown. 93.
SDV351885Un-published: Everett, A. W.. 1959. Remains of Vaulted Cellar, Broadclyst. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV351888Ground Photograph: Unknown. 1998. Undercroft at Broadclyst. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 9 2020 11:06AM