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HER Number:MDV102976
Name:Old Priest's House, 15-17 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot


15 and 17 Highweek Street, known as the Old Priest's House, were demolished in 1975 for road widening. Subsequent excavation revealed the well-preserved remains of a good quality town house dating to the late medieval period.


Grid Reference:SX 856 713
Map Sheet:SX87SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishNewton Abbot
Ecclesiastical ParishHIGHWEEK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOUSE (XV to XX - 1401 AD to 2000 AD)

Full description

Thomas, B., 18/01/1991, Historic Stones end up in Sewer (Article in Serial). SDV351310.

Stones from the Priest's House have been used to provide the foundations for culverts in Teignbridge. Priests House which dated to the 13th century was demolished as part of the redevelopment of Highweek Street in 1975. The stones from the building were all numbered and stored at the council depot for future rebuilding of the house on another site.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

Map object (approximate) based on this source.

Devon County Council, 1975, Newton Abbot Town Trails, 58 (Article in Monograph). SDV352459.

The town trail makes reference to the Priests House which stood a little lower down from St. Mary's chapel on the right hand side of the road. It is described as a 'small tumbledown cottage, probably medieval and one of the oldest buildings in the town'. It was formerly occupied by the clergy of St. Mary's. At the time of writing the house was in a sad state of repair.

Timms, S. C., 1975, Preliminary Report on the Excavation of No. 15-17, Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Report - Interim). SDV350299.

No. 15 and No. 17 Highweek Street were excavated prior to demolition in 1975. No. 15 was a medieval stone building, No. 17 a later shop with a bow window facing the street. A medieval arched doorway, blocked to make a window, survives in an external wall. An earlier survey showed that they were once a single structure that continued south into the saddlers shop [still standing at that time]. Excavation revealed a build-up of post medieval deposits with finds including pottery, gone, clay pipe and iron. Nearly 20 bronze pins and a bronze riding spur were also found. The survival of post-medieval deposits together with the depth of walling below ground suggests that medieval levels are preserved beneath.

Timms, S. C., 1976, Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Article in Serial). SDV355010.

Excavation undertaken in 1976 on the site of a late medieval house. The stone building fronted Highweek Street, the main street of the medieval borough of Newton Bushel. It was a substantial single storey structure comprising an end room, wide cross passage and part of a second room set parallel to the street. An arched opening at modern street level, initially taken to be a door, was shown to be a window, the stone walls extending to about 1.5 metres below modern street level. This rise in ground level and the waterlogged conditions of the lower deposits meant that the internal details, including wooden posts and the footings of the cross-passage partitions were well-preserved.
Beneath and set back from the front wall of the house was a stone wall footing with an area of laid hurdling laid up against it. No structures relating to the 13th century foundation of the borough were found but the depth of build up highlights the archaeological potential of other sites on Highweek Street which is under stress from road and other improvements.

Timms, S. C., 1978, A362 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Improvement Scheme: A Report on the Archaeological Implications (Report - non-specific). SDV354674.

The so-called Old Priests House, formerly 15-17 Highweek Street was demolished in 1975. Subsequent site investigation uncovered the well-preserved remains of a good quality town house, dating to the end of the medieval period. The exceptionally good state of preservtion of the site was due to its waterlogged state and the fact that Highweek Street is now some 2 metres above the original ground level. It was probably built up to reduce the risks of flooding.

Pink, F., 2014, Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions (Report - non-specific). SDV357343.

An excavation was carried out at 15-17 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot in 1975 by the Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology.

Timms, S. C., 26/11/1976, Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Report - Interim). SDV350300.

Excavations in 1976 concentrated on the interior of the stone-built house, the walls of which descended to circa 1.5 metres below the modern ground surface. The north room was found to be well-appointed with plastered walls, a large window overlooking the street and a large fireplace in the rear wall. This room was separated from the south room by a wide through passage, the stone partition footings of which were well preserved. The front wall was found to be thinner than the other walls in the building and had been built in two phases. Preliminary results suggest that the standing structure dates to the early 16th century. Beneath the deposits associated with this structure was a stone foundation wall running at a slight angle to the street line. Between this wall and the street an area of laid wooden 'flooring' in a depression in the natural was seen to continue under the front wall of the house. The few associated finds are thought to be late medieval in date.
The depth of build-up and the good state of preservtion highlights the potential for remains not just for the rest of the site but for Highweek Street as a whole.

Dudley, E. R., November 198, Highweek Church House (Worksheet). SDV351308.

Suggested that Priests House, demolished 1976, is the site of the church house.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV350299Report - Interim: Timms, S. C.. 1975. Preliminary Report on the Excavation of No. 15-17, Highweek Street, Newton Abbot. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV350300Report - Interim: Timms, S. C.. 26/11/1976. Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot. Foolscap + Digital.
SDV351308Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. November 198. Highweek Church House. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV351310Article in Serial: Thomas, B.. 18/01/1991. Historic Stones end up in Sewer. Mid Devon Advertiser. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV352459Article in Monograph: Devon County Council. 1975. Newton Abbot Town Trails. Devon Town Trails: European Architectural Heritage Year. Paperback Volume. 58.
SDV354674Report - non-specific: Timms, S. C.. 1978. A362 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Improvement Scheme: A Report on the Archaeological Implications. Devon County Council. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV355010Article in Serial: Timms, S. C.. 1976. Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Annual Report 1976. A5 Paperback + Digital.
SDV357343Report - non-specific: Pink, F.. 2014. Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions. AC Archaeology Report. ACD473/1/1. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV102983Related to: Highweek Street (West Side), Newton Abbot (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6633 - 15-17 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot

Date Last Edited:Jun 3 2015 11:29AM