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HER Number:MDV105324
Name:Bathing House at Elberry Cove


Aerial survey has demonstrated that this nineteenth century Bathing House was roofless by 1958. It appears to be ruinous in 2012 and possibly threatened by vegetation growth as well as collapse.


Grid Reference:SX 903 569
Map Sheet:SX95NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishTorbay

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1501554
  • Pastscape: 1501554

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1930 - 1939, Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV336668.

A Bathing House is depicted and named.

Royal Air Force, 1958, RAF/58/2549, NMR SX9056/1 RAF 30137/PSFO-P2-00814 27-AUG-1958 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351446.

The building is visible as a roofless structure.

Channel Coast Observatory, 2001-2012, Channel Coast Observatory Aerial Photography, Channel Coastal Observatory SX8957_20120918ortho.ecw 18-SEP-2012 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351226.

The ruinous north, west and east walls are visible.

English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

A 2-inch Ordnance Survey map of 1803-4 shows a path leading from Churston Court to the cove, but no building. By the time of the Churston Parish Tithe map for 1839 the building is shown. It is also shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1865 and is identified there as a Bathing House. The building was in the grounds of Churston Court (Listed Building 383577 Grade II*, AMIE NMR number 447520, SX 95 NW 24) and was used by Lord Churston and his family.
The roof was originally of thatch and hipped, and is shown in a photograph taken in 1865. By 1963 slates had replaced this and by the later 1980s the roof had collapsed or been dismantled. Recorded history from a member of the Churston family states that the building was also used as a tea house in the summer, as an embarkation point for taking dinghies out to yachts moored at sea, and as an observation point. Photographic evidence and a site inspection undertaken by the Torquay Natural History Society in 2000 showed that the building formerly had three floors with a plunge pool to the northern end of the lowest floor, apparently filled by sea water. A door to the west led outside and steps at the southern end led up to a larger middle floor which had a room with fireplace at the northern end, behind which were a water store and boiler room with storage to the far south end. The top floor had a room with a fireplace and a wide window, looking out in the direction of Torbay to the north, and a roof terrace to the south. The photograph of 1865 also appears to show windows on the western side, but these appear to have been blocked at a later date.
The building is of rubble stone with brick dressings to the window heads and occasional stone quoins. Although the house was roofed in the 1960s, the roof has now gone and parts of the top floor have also collapsed. The chimney to the fireplaces on the eastern side survives, but that to the boiler room has been decapitated and the upper part of the walling on this upper floor is now mostly missing. Internally, the floors have also gone. The bowed northern end of the plunge pool can be seen and the windows are barred. Otherwise, all internal fittings and plaster have been removed and only a series of slots in the stonework show where the ceiling beams were formerly seated.
The bathing house at Churston can be seen as part of a movement towards sea bathing as a form of exercise in the later-18th century and 19th century which developed in the period of the French Revolution, when foreign travel became more difficult. George III holidayed at Weymouth where he bathed in the sea. Spas with heated baths became more common and several estates also built bath houses. By the early 19th century the fashion had waned and this example is slightly peculiar in its later dating. Nonetheless, such buildings are rare in the national context and they will usually be considered as listable. The form of plan at Churston has sophistication with its plunge pool, boiler room and viewing room, but there is very little left of the original interior furnishing and much of the functioning of the bathhouse remains conjectural. There is an almost complete absence of roof, floors, joinery and machinery. In addition the photograph of c.1865 shows a different arrangement of window openings to the western front. The building cannot be considered as a suitable candidate for designation and it is not recommended for addition to the list.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

The outline of the structure is mapped.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2013-2014, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV351146.

The bathing house depicted on historic mapping is visible as a roofless structure on oblique aerial photographs taken in 1958. It appears to be ruinous in 2012, and it may be under threat from scrub or tree growth as well as collapse. Further information on its history, layout and condition is available on the English Heritage Archive record. It is depicted on modern mapping so has not been transcribed as part of the aerial survey.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336668Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1930 - 1939. Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV351146Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2013-2014. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV351226Aerial Photograph: Channel Coast Observatory. 2001-2012. Channel Coast Observatory Aerial Photography. Channel Coast Observatory. Digital. Channel Coastal Observatory SX8957_20120918ortho.ecw 18-SEP-2012. [Mapped feature: #64779 ]
SDV351446Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1958. RAF/58/2549. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR SX9056/1 RAF 30137/PSFO-P2-00814 27-AUG-1958.

Associated Monuments

MDV9611Related to: MANOR HOUSE in the Parish of (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6127 - Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme (NMP) for South-West England - South Coast Devon (Ref: ACD618)
  • EDV7925 - Survey of the Bathing House at Elbury Cove, Churston Ferrers

Date Last Edited:Jul 23 2014 2:36PM