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HER Number:MDV10938
Name:Combe House, Combe Park


Combe House with Elizabethan origins was extended and altered in 17th century, 18th century and 19th century.


Grid Reference:SY 142 978
Map Sheet:SY19NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGittisham
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishGITTISHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY19NW/6
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANSION HOUSE (Post Medieval to XXI - 1540 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Swete, R. J. (Revd), 564M/9/55 (Record Office Collection). SDV123108.

Illustrations of Combe by Swete.

Untitled Source, 89 (Migrated Record). SDV15340.

Polwhele, R., 1793-1806, The History of Devonshire, 323-5 (Monograph). SDV21030.

Department of Environment, 1950, Gittisham, 27 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV123109.

'H' plan with late 17C hall. The 18C morning room may have been the medieval inner room. Medieval doorframe in hall partition (no longer visible). Major remodelling in 17C with late 18C refurbishment. Further alterations in 19C - two storeys and attic. 4-bay main range flanked by gabled wings. Mullion and transom windows. Interior rich in 17C, 18C and 19C fittings. Late 17C stair, probable early 18C plaster ceiling in hall, 18C painted glass. See DoE list for details.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 400 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Combe House. 'an Elizabethan house (in parts probably older). It was probably built by Henry Beaumont who died in 1591.

Hussey, C., 1955, Combe, 1556-9 (Article in Serial). SDV324642.

English Heritage, 1955, Gittisham (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV324588.

Combe House(formerly listed as Combe). Hotel, formerly the home of the Beaumonts, Putts and Markers: the latter still ownCombe House and the Combe estate. Medieval origins, remodelled in the 17C, 18C and19C. Rendered, with a slate roof; stacks, some with rendered shafts, some with renewed octagonal brick shafts with moulded cornices.
Plan and development: Approximately H plan, facing west. The late 17C hall is in the centre block with a small entrance hall to the right (south) and a 17C stair hall to the left (north). The south crosswing, heavily remodelled in the early 19C, contains 2 principal rooms to the front including the former dining room and a former kitchen to the rear. To the left of the main range a front wing at right angles is fitted out as the 18C morning room and may have been the medieval inner room. The north crosswing, which adjoins this wing, is unusual in that the front block is set at a slight angle - this contains a fine 18C parlour on the ground floor. The rear (east) section of the wing is not continuous with the angled block and is conventionally aligned with the rest of the house, it now functions as a service wing. The development of the plan is complicated and discussed in detail by Christopher Hussey in his 1955 articles in Country Life. The medieval origins of the house are evident from an ogee-headed doorframe discovered in the north side partition of the present hall. The doorframe is no longer visible but suggests that the late 17C hall is the result of successive remodellings of a medieval original. The house must have been substantial in the 16C since the Beaumonts are said to have "lived at Combe in great splendour and esteem for three generations" (Hussey, probably quoting Prince). The last Beaumont died in 1591. By this stage the hall had probably received the transomed windows and attic dormers shown on a survey plan of c1787 unless these alterations were carried out by Nicholas Putt, who bought Combe in 1615. Major work including the remodelling of the hall and the fine staircase was undertaken by Sir Thomas Putt, described by one of the family as "an extravagant man" (Polwhele), who succeeded in 1605 and died 1686. Late 18C refurbishment of a very high quality in the 2 north west wings is associated with Black Tom Putt, who succeeded in 1757. 3 late 18C illustrations and a plan show the outlines of the house much as it is at present, before the conservative remodelling for the Reverend Thomas Putt who succeeded in 1812. He remodelled the south crosswing, added an extra storey to the hall range and introduced an open well stair behind the entrance hall, rejecting the plans for more extensive alterations which had been drawn up by Sir John Soane in 1805 for Reymundo Putt. The sash windows shown in the late 18C illustrations were mostly replaced and subsequently altered to stone mullioned windows in the late 19C.
Exterior: 2 storeys and attic. Asymmetrical 1:1:4:1 bay front, the 4-bay main range flanked by the gable ends of the wings, the angled wing at the extreme left. The gables, including 2 in the centre, are crowned by carved finials. Early 19C gabled Gothick porch to right of centre with diagonal buttresses with set-offs and big pinnacles, ogee-headed moulded exterior doorframe with a hoodmould. Late 19C fenestration: 3 ground floor 3-light stone mullioned windows with 2 transoms: 4 first floor 2-light transomed mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, the window above the porch is blocked. 18C downpipes with rainwater heads. The 2 flanking wings have set back buttresses. The inner return of the north wing is blind; the south wing has 2 blocked 2-light mullioned windows with cusped heads. The gable ends of the wings have mullioned widows with hoodmoulds: 4-light and transomed to the ground floor (blocked to the south wing); similar smaller 4-light first floor window, 2-light mullioned attic windows with hoodmoulds. The angled outer north wing has a 19C parapet with a moulded cornice and a 2-storey canted bay of at least 18C origins but with late 19C transomed and mullioned windows which descend to flank the Gothic style Tudor arched doorway with a 2-leaf door. The left (north) return of the north crosswing has a 19C porch, partly blocked in, to the side entrance and mostly 20C casements beyond. The right return of the south crosswing is symmetrical to the west, and largely of the early 19C in form but with late 19C fenestration. 5 symmetrical bays to the left, gabled to the south to left and right with left and right buttresses and a pair of buttresses flanking the centre bay. 2-light transomed windows with hoodmoulds to the ground and first floor; 2-light attic windows with Tudor arches and chamfered frames. The service wing, to the right is slightly set back and crowned with a bellcote, with a mixture of 19C and 20C sashes and casements. On the ground floor, an early 19C side entrance with a massive flat porch canopy on shaped brackets. A large tall, round-headed window with original glazing bars lights the kitchen. The rear elevation of the house has a variety of mostly 20C timber casements with glazing bars. A 3-light pointed traceried window lights the stair hall. It is difficult to date: some of the masonry may be medieval but the tracery is unconventional; it is glazed with 18C painted glass. Glazed lantern to main range, lighting the 19C stair well behind the entrance hall.
Interior: Rich in 17C, 18C and 19C fittings. The late 17C hall is very fine with Bolection-moulded wainscot panelling and 2-leaf doors at each end with splendid doorcases with broken pediments on consoles. The panelling incorporates a built in case for a weight-actuated clock, the weights enclosed in a fixed cupboard. The clock itself is missing. Hussey considers this "a probably unique transitional form between the hanging clock and the long-case or grandfather - that replaced it in the last quarter of the 17th Century" (Country Life, June 16, 1955, p. 1557). Massive Bolection-moulded chimney-piece with an eared architrave and a Bolection-moulded panel above flanked by Corinthian pilasters decorated with swags of fruit; Dutch-style tiles line the hearth. The ceiling is probably early 18C with moulded ribs in a panelled design enriched with floral motifs in roundels and a boldly-projecting dentil cornice with an egg and dart frieze. The stair hall is also decorated with plaster panelling including round-headed niches. Grand open well stair of the late 17C with a closed string, square-section newel posts crowned with vases of flowers, a flat-topped handrail and big turned balusters decorated with egg and dart and cable moulding. 2-leaf door to the hall with an eared architrave and cornice; probably original paved floor; 18C painted glass in the stair window rather similar to a Peckitt design in character, with Gothic painted tracery. The 2 west rooms in the north wings have 18C fittings: they are linked by a passage at the west. The southern room has a c1760 Rococo plaster ceiling and a decorated cornice and frieze. The chimney-piece, white marble with terms on the jambs, is probably, 19C. The northern room, set at a slight angle has an exquisite Rococo chimney-piece "a masterpiece of its genre" (Hussey), incorporating an oval mirror. The lintel and jambs are marble, the lintel scalloped. The pine frame to the fireplace and the mirror is delicately carved with flowers, birds and a fox. Doorcases with broken pediments include friezes matching the chimney-piece and the long-necked birds in the decorated plaster ceiling also seem to have been inspired by the chimney-piece. The ceiling has a central roundel with wreaths of pears, grapes and roses. The 2 early 19C rooms in the south crosswing have marble chimney-pieces, plaster cornices and Jacobean style decorated ceilings, possibly in pressed paper. The former dining room, to the right, has oak and pine panelled wainscotting. The entrance hall has a boldly-projecting 18C dentil cornice; 19C open well top-lit stair behind with turned balusters. The old kitchen at the east end of the south wing, retains an early 19C kitchen fireplace. Several rooms on the first floor with good cornices, Bolection-moulded dados and late 17C and later chimney-pieces. Brick-vaulted cellars survive below the south crosswing.
Roof: Partially inspected. Trusses seen over the main range and south crosswing are of an early 19C character but early timbers may survive in the north wings.
An outstanding country house with high quality interior features. Group value with associated buildings. The gardens at Combe are Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic interest in England. Photographs in the NMR. Other details: LBS No 87144.

Hussey, C., 1955, Untitled Source, 1486-9 (Article in Serial). SDV123112.

French, K. + French, C., 1957, Devonshire Plasterwork, 134 (Article in Serial). SDV4676.

Young, W. T., 1959, Notes on the branches., 209 (Article in Serial). SDV123103.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1975, SY19NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV123105.

An imposing and well maintained residence, now a hotel. Externally retains Elizabethan characteristics. Other details: Photos.

Department of Environment, 1988, Gittisham, 107-8 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV117408.

Cherry, B., 1988, The Devon Country House in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries, 102 (Article in Serial). SDV129144.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 282 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Fisher, J., 1999, East Devon Conservation Area Appraisals: Gittisham, 8 (Report - non-specific). SDV346641.

Combe House is Grade I listed and in an historic landscaped setting (Grade II), on the slopes of Gittisham Hill. The house is a good Elizabethan example in the Somerset, rather than the Devon style. It was probably built by Henry Beaumont (died 1591) whose striking monument is in the parish church. It was sold to the Putt family in 1615, who held it until 1792, when it passed by marriage to the Markers. In recent years it has become a country hotel.

Reed, S. J. + Collings, A. G., 2000, Archaeological assessment of SWW Chineway to Roundball mains renewal, Honiton, 2 (Report - Assessment). SDV117622.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, 18, Part 1; 134-135, Part 2: Gazetteer, Site No. 380 (Report - Survey). SDV101648.

Combe House (now a hotel) is an Elizabethan mansion with later additions, which has probable earlier parts within it. Series of late 17th century or earlier walled gardens extend from east side of house. The house has a 17th century/18th century park and woodland (Listed Grade II) once covering 50 hectares, the woodland including Cross Park Copse and Roadwood Copse; the park held deer in the 16th century. There are a number of structures and landscape features within the grounds including a cottage, an orangery, stables, ice house, greenhouse, a well, a fishpond, most of which are Listed Grade II. The site is listed in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest (Listed Grade II), the east boundary of which extends to the A375 road on the west side of Gittisham Hill.
The place was probably the home of John de Combe documented in 1311; by association, Combe Farm which lies to the south of it may also be an early site.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, Site No. 380 (Archive - Survey). SDV358490.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, Site No. 380 (Report - Survey). SDV359019.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 2511 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Combe House. 16th century or earlier with later additions. Listed Grade I. Extensive grounds contain park, woodland, gardens and other features and buildings of Listed Grade II status.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV101648Report - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.26. A4 Unbound + Digital. 18, Part 1; 134-135, Part 2: Gazetteer, Site No. 380.
SDV117408List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Gittisham. Historic Houses Register. 107-8.
SDV117622Report - Assessment: Reed, S. J. + Collings, A. G.. 2000. Archaeological assessment of SWW Chineway to Roundball mains renewal, Honiton. Exeter Archaeology Report. 00.66. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2.
SDV123103Article in Serial: Young, W. T.. 1959. Notes on the branches.. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 91. 209.
SDV123105Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1975. SY19NW5.
SDV123108Record Office Collection: Swete, R. J. (Revd). 564M/9/55. 564M/9/55.
SDV123109List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1950. Gittisham. Historic Houses Register. 27.
SDV123112Article in Serial: Hussey, C.. 1955. Country Life. 1486-9.
SDV129144Article in Serial: Cherry, B.. 1988. The Devon Country House in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. A5 Paperback. 102.
SDV15340Migrated Record: 89.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 400.
SDV21030Monograph: Polwhele, R.. 1793-1806. The History of Devonshire. The History of Devonshire. Unknown. 323-5.
SDV324588List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 1955. Gittisham. Historic Houses Register.
SDV324642Article in Serial: Hussey, C.. 1955. Combe. Country Life. 1556-9.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 282.
SDV346641Report - non-specific: Fisher, J.. 1999. East Devon Conservation Area Appraisals: Gittisham. East Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 2511.
SDV358490Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 380.
SDV359019Report - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.26. Site No. 380.
SDV4676Article in Serial: French, K. + French, C.. 1957. Devonshire Plasterwork. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 134.

Associated Monuments

MDV10939Parent of: Plaster Ceiling, Combe House (Monument)
MDV41918Related to: Carriage House and Stable Block, Combe House (Building)
MDV72227Related to: Combe Farm, Farmhouse (Building)
MDV72228Related to: Combe Farm, Shippon Range (Building)
MDV63587Related to: Combe House, Access Road (Monument)
MDV41924Related to: Combe House, Fish Pond (Park/Garden)
MDV32461Related to: Combe Park, Gittisham (Park/Garden)
MDV41919Related to: Garden Building, Combe House (Building)
MDV41920Related to: Garden Walls, Combe House (Building)
MDV60899Related to: Gardens and Vineyard, Combe House (Park/Garden)
MDV41921Related to: Ice House, Combe House (Building)
MDV79465Related to: Lower Lodge, Gittisham (Building)
MDV72226Related to: MARL PIT in the Parish of Gittisham (Monument)
MDV41922Related to: Vineyard Cottage, Combe House (Building)
MDV41923Related to: Vineyard Walls, Combe House (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3326 - SY19NW 5
  • EDV3327 - Archaeological assessment of SWW Chineway to Roundball mains renewal, Honiton
  • EDV3328 - East Devon heathlands archaeological survey

Date Last Edited:Aug 23 2016 3:40PM