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HER Number:MDV11996
Name:St Michael's School, Tawstock Court


Country house, used as school since 1940. Built in 1787 on the site of the Elizabethan house, remodelled at the rear in 1885. Principally Gothick style, the 1885 additions to rear in late medieval gothic style.


Grid Reference:SS 557 299
Map Sheet:SS52NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTawstock
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAWSTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS52NE/12
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 437075

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (XVIII to XIX - 1701 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SCHOOL (XX - 1901 AD to 2000 AD)

Full description

Swete, R. J. (Revd), Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV56931.

Swete gives a description of the house and grounds during a visit in 1789. The house is described as "now but a shell", and was being rebuilt after a fire (swete).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59223.

Tawstock court. Victorian house on site of medieval mansion.

ROBERTS, 1971, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59226.

The house was burned down in 1787 (roberts, 1971).

1905, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59232.

'mansion (remains of)' marked on 6" (1905) map (os).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59236.

Roberts, j. /tda/103(1971)121/the armada lord lieutenant pt.2.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59237.

Swete, j. /dcnq/1 part 1(1900-1901)169-175/tour in north devon by rev. John swete.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59242.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV59245.

Des=os 6"(1905)13sw.

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica. Devonshire, 478 (Monograph). SDV323771.

Lysons cites risdons suggestion that this was earlier (i. E.13th cent. ) the seat of henry de tracy (lysons).

Oliver, G., 1840, Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon, Vol. 2, 120-121 (note), plate (Monograph). SDV35446.

Tawstock Court burnt down 10th November 1783. The gatehouse, built in 1574, is still standing.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 154 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Current house reflects the "Gothick of the moment" (i. E.1787). The north side was redone 1885.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 489 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Department of Environment, 1960, Barnstaple RD, 46 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337219.

The Victorianised west front seems to retain the plan of the Tudor house. South front rebuilt after a fire in 1787 in Gothic style. The whole is faced in roughcast, and is now a school.

Roberts, J., 1970, The Armada Lord Leiutenant, 72, 76 (Article in Serial). SDV349389.

Seat of the Earl of Bath in the 16th century, described by Leland and by Risdon, the 3rd Earl was building here by 1577.

Gallant, L., 1986, Deer Parks and Paddocks of England (Un-published). SDV656.

Tawstock given as the seat of the Bourchiers, Lords Fitzwarren and Earls of Bath from the 15th-17th century when it passed by marriage to the Wreys. Donn's map of 1765 shows the house and church both within a park. Speed's map of 1610 also shows the house inside park. Sir W. Pole in 1635 calls the estate 'Tawistoke'.

Department of Environment, 1987, Tawstock, 56 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV76335.

Country house, used as school since 1940. 1787, remodelled at rear in 1885. Stuccoed stone rubble. Hipped slate roofs concealed by parapet. Overall 4-sided rear courtyard plan. The garden (east front) has 2 principal rooms to each side of wide entrance hall with rear passage which has staircases and entrances at each end. Left-hand (south) rear wing contains library, right hand (north) rear wing the service rooms. Gatehouse to rear (west) wing. Principally Gothick style, the 1885 additions to rear in late medieval gothic style. South front: 2 storeys. 9 bays, symmetrical with polygonal corner turrets. Embattled parapet. Plat-band. 3 centre bays break forward slightly with pediment. In each face of the towers and in the pediment is a blind quatrefoil panel. Central single storey gabled porch with embattled parapet and diagonal buttresses. Tall lancet window to each side wall, and large 2 centred arched doorway to front with a 4-centred sub-arch and cartouche to the tympanum. All Gothick fenestration with pointed arched windows and sashes with intersecting glazing bars. Decorative rainwater heads to each side of porch and pediment with ornamental cresting and armorial shields. Left (south) side: 8 bays including tower-like rectangular wing to right hand end which is a westward continuation of the polygonal corner turret and a rectangular tower-projection at left end, both rising above the 5 central bays, the middle bay of which has a 2 storey canted bay window. Embattled parapet and plat-band. Except for the bay windows, the windows are 2 light Gothick casements with Y bars above sashes, those at left end with intersecting glazing bars. The tower wing at the right-hand end has a large mullioned window of 5 depressed headed lights with 5 transomes above a battlemented 2-centred arched doorway with trefoil-headed sub-arch and diagonal buttresses. Right (north) side has similar tower to those on east side with Gothick fenestration at right hand end of 3 bay range, the left hand bay with added late C19 canted bay entrance front rising to 2 storeys with 3 light transomed mullion window with rubbed brick surround, some of the panes with armorial glass above ogee-headed doorway (now blocked) with rubbed brick panelling above. The remainder of the north wing extending westwards beyond the tower concealed by C20 extension. West side has rear late C19 courtyard entrance resembling fortified brick gatehouse with diagonal buttresses and multiple moulded semi-circular arched gateway with mock portcullis surmounted by rubbed brick cartouche bearing date 1885. Reset stone cartouche on inner face with achievement. Inner courtyard walls entirely rebuilt in 1885 with rubbed brick surrounds to the 3-light mullioned transomed windows. Interior Interior largely altered in late C19 and again in mid C20. Late C19 panelled entrance hall with massive chimneypiece reusing some C17 panelling. Anthemion frieze to partitioned principal room to left. Staircase at left end of rear passage with moulded handrail and barley sugar balusters and newels with acorn finials. Staircase at right end, believed to be designed by Sir John Soane, lit by elliptical dome with Greek key motif around the drum and Ionic-style pillars to the balustrade at head of stairs. Library fittings principally intact with geometrical patterned ceiling, fluted Ionic columns dividing the bookcases, and false book spines to rear of doorway. Octagonal ground floor room to north-east tower has some replaced earlier panelling on walls and chimneypiece with some reused Renaissance panels. Tawstock Court was the seat of the Bourchier Wrey family. The Elizabethan house, of which only the gatehouse now survives (q.v.) was destroyed by fire in 1787.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Hanks, N., 2014, Minor Amendment to the National Heritage List for England for Seven Entries (Correspondence). SDV356817.

1253768 “St Michael’s School, Tawstock Court”, locator point now at SS 55803 29910 and the name corrected from “St Michael’s School, St Michael’s School, Tawstock Court, Tawstock Court” to read “St Michael’s School, Tawstock Court”

Cramp, C., 2015, North Devon Relief-Decorated Ceramics in the Household, 202, 207, 213; Fig 8.6 (Article in Monograph). SDV365391.

North Devon relief-decorated tiles were used at Tawstock Court, indicating their acceptance in buildings of high social level. The panelled hall has a large carved wooden overmantel on two panels of which are depicted the heads of Abraham and Isaac, the features of the former (possibly Isaac) resembling that on the relief tile type K53, one of the designs which may be intended to represent an Indian head.
Two relief tile fragments stamped vK39 said to come "from Tawstock Court". Their context is lost; the old house was largely destroyed by fire in 1787. They show evidence of use.

Unknown, Unknown, Untitled Source (Ground Photograph). SDV59244.

Des=photo in pf.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 489.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Devonshire. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. 478.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 154.
SDV337219List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1960. Barnstaple RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 46.
SDV349389Article in Serial: Roberts, J.. 1970. The Armada Lord Leiutenant. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 102. A5 Hardback. 72, 76.
SDV35446Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1840. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon, Vol. 2. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon. 2. Digital. 120-121 (note), plate.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #79250 ]
SDV356817Correspondence: Hanks, N.. 2014. Minor Amendment to the National Heritage List for England for Seven Entries. Email regardinging Notification of a Minor Amendment. Digital.
SDV365391Article in Monograph: Cramp, C.. 2015. North Devon Relief-Decorated Ceramics in the Household. West Country Households 1500-1700. Hardback Volume. 202, 207, 213; Fig 8.6.
SDV56931Migrated Record: Swete, R. J. (Revd).
SDV59223Migrated Record:
SDV59226Migrated Record: ROBERTS, 1971.
SDV59232Migrated Record: 1905.
SDV59236Migrated Record:
SDV59237Migrated Record:
SDV59242Migrated Record:
SDV59244Ground Photograph: Unknown. Unknown. Conservation Section Photograph Collection. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.
SDV59245Migrated Record:
SDV656Un-published: Gallant, L.. 1986. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Manuscript.
SDV76335List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Tawstock. Historic Houses Register. 56.

Associated Monuments

MDV96323Related to: Courtyard Wall with Entrance, Tawstock Court (Building)
MDV37694Related to: Gate Piers to Main Entrance Drive, Tawstock Court (Building)
MDV65648Related to: Larkbear or Torrington Lodge, Tawstock (Building)
MDV54855Related to: Tawstock Court Park and Gardens (Monument)
MDV105821Related to: West Lodge, Old Torrington Road, Sticklepath near Barnstaple (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 11 2024 9:00AM