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HER Number:MDV13521
Name:Bovey Castle, North Bovey


North Bovey Manor House, now known as Bovey Castle, was built between 1905 and 1907 as a country retreat for Viscount Hambledon on land bought by his father W.H. Smith from the Earls of Devon. Following Viscount Hambledon's death in 1928 the house was bought by the Great Western Railway company and coverted to an hotel. It was requisitioned and used as a military hospital during the Second World War but returned to its function as a hotel in 1946. It was sold into private hands in 1983 and was acquired by Principal Hotels in 1991. It was sold again, restored and refurbished in 2003 at which time its name was changed to Bovey Castle.


Grid Reference:SX 731 844
Map Sheet:SX78SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishNorth Bovey
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTH BOVEY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78SW/36
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 85138

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (Built, XX - 1905 AD to 1907 AD (Between))
  • HOTEL (Converted, XX - 1929 AD to 1930 AD (Between))

Full description

Simkins, M. A. + Simkins, R. J. J., 1991, Lord Hambledon and Moretonhampstead, 178-9 (Article in Serial). SDV347370.

Built near the site of Week farmhouse and cottages.

Harmer, V., 2003, Manor House Hotel, North Bovey, 1-4 (Report - Assessment). SDV347905.

Assessment of the building externally and internally as part of a programme of refurbishment and upgrades to the hotel. This house was built for WFD Smith (later Lord Hambleden), the son of WH Smith as a second home or country retreat. On Lord Hambleden’s death in 1928 it was sold to the Great Western Railway Company who converted it to a hotel and golf course. It was greatly extended in 1935 to accommodate further guests. During the Second World War the hotel was used as a military hospital.
A plaque at the hotel assigns Walter Mills as the architect and Lewis Bearne as the builder, which contradicts the Listing detail.

Weighton, R., 2003/2014, Bovey Castle, North Bovey, Devon. Historic Building Report (Report - Survey). SDV357178.

This report was originally commissioned to inform the design of the alterations and restorations carried out in 2003-4 (see SDV347905). It was reissued and updated in 2014 to aid the process of repair following damage caused by the severe winter storms of 2013-14.
North Bovey Manor House was built between 1905 and 1907 as a country retreat for Viscount Hambledon. Following his death in 1928 the house was bought by the Great Western Railway company and coverted to an hotel. As a result it was greatly extended in 1935. It was requisitioned and used as a military hospital during the Second World War but returned to its function as a hotel in 1946. It was sold into private hands in 1983 and was acquired by Principal Hotels in 1991. It was sold again, restored and refurbished in 2003. The number of rooms was reduced from 99 to 62 and the end of the west wing, initially added in the 1930s, was finally completed. A number of lodges have also been built in the grounds.

Eden Hotel Collection, 2011, Bovey Castle (Website). SDV347892.

Was used as a convalescent home/military hospital during the two World Wars. Re-opened as a hotel in 1946 and is now a golf club. Became known as 'Bovey Castle' in 2003.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Bovey Castle (Hotel)' is depicted on the modern mapping.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Manor House Hotel including terraces immediately to south-east. Country house in use as a hotel. 1907 by Detmar Blow for Viscount Hambledon; extended in 1930s and hall floored in early 1980s. Snecked squared granite blocks with dressed quoins. Bath stone dressings to doors and windows. High pitched clay tiled roof with tall grouped octagonal granite chimneys. Main building in Jacobean style. Roughly central entrance hall leads to long passage running length of building with main rooms opening to the south looking onto the garden. Great hall to the right of entrance hall has had a floor inserted in early 1980s. Later additions to the north and west end dating from 1930s.
Exterior: Two storeys with attic floor. Asymmetrical entrance front (north west) of five bays with later additions projecting from left end and extending from the right end. The outer bays are projecting and gabled with three tiers of mullioned windows of decreasing size as they go up, with the ground and first floor ones transomed. Projecting central two storey porch with shaped gable, four-light mullion and transomed window above semi-circular stone arched doorway. To right of porch on ground and first floors is single light then four-light mullion and transomed window. To left of porch is very large mullion and transomed stair window of 12 arched lights. To its left is buttress then three-light mullion and transomed window on ground and first floors. The middle section between the two projecting gables is battlemented. Rear (south-east) garden front has similar though more symmetrical five-bay front to main block with irregular right end. Main block has two projecting outer bays with pointed gables. Central projecting ground floor entrance loggia of three-bay arcade with round-headed arched doorways. Recessed shaped gable above. To either side is projecting two-storey window bay with six-light mullion and transomed windows to ground and first floor. To either side, between this bay and the gabled outer bay is recessed section with six-light mullion and transomed windows to ground and first floor. The section between the two outer projecting bays is battlemented with string- course above ground and first floor windows. Good lead inscribed rain-water heads. To right of main block is asymmetrical four window battlemented block with projecting gabled bay at far right which has two tiers of mullion windows and arcaded arched doorways to ground floor. To the left of the projecting gable is canted five-light mullion and transomed oriel window and irregularly placed mullion and mullion and transomed windows around it. Drip-course above each level of windows with three stone gargoyles above the upper one. In front of the house is a stone balustraded garden terrace retaining wall running the full length with steps opposite the entrance loggia leading to an intermediate stage which has steps leading down from it either side.
Interior is of high quality. The main rooms open to the south-west off a groin vaulted long passage with arcading of carved stone arched doorways and moulded plasterwork. The main rooms are an Adam style drawing room, an elaborately panelled dining room with ornate carved wooden overmantle to fireplace and moulded plaster ceiling of ribs and pendants. Between these two rooms is the great hall, originally of two storey height with gallery at one end, now ceiled in to make two rooms. Panelled walls with two-bay arcade at one end with splat baluster staircase to former gallery beyond and very elaborately carved stone fireplace at the opposite end. The room above has stone arcading around the sides and a roof of moulded arched braced tie- beams with carved spandrels and trefoil-headed arcading above trusses. Moulded purlins and ridge. Elaborately carved Jacobean style staircase (description 1981). Other details: LB UID: 85138.

Weighton, R., July 2014, Design & Access, Heritage & Justification Statement (Report - non-specific). SDV357182.

Heritage statement in support of the repair and renewal of roof slates and other damage sustained in the winter storms of 2013-14.
Bovey Castle is a hotel overlooking the valley of the River Bovey, just below the true moorland of Dartmoor. The earliest part of the building dates from 1907 when Viscount Hambleton built a country house in neo-Jacobean style on his father’s estate which the latter had bought from the Earls of Devon. On the Viscount’s death in 1928 the Devon estates were sold to pay death duties and the building was acquired by the Great Western Railway Company and converted to a hotel with seemingly little alteration, although they did add a new golf course to the grounds. The hotel was extended in the mid 1930s with the addition of a new west wing, a large dining room created from the original servant’s quarters and a new kitchen. These expansion plans were, however, cut short by the Second World War, during which time the hotel became a military hospital. It reverted back to a hotel after the war. Initially this was under the ownership of GWR but following nationalisation it became a British Transport hotel. It was sold into private hands in the late 20th century. It was sold again in the early 21st century when it became the Bovey Castle Hotel . The number of rooms was reduced and the west wing was finally completed.
The original house, designed by Walter E. Mills, is built of squared granite blocks with a red brick inner skin. The windows and other stone dressings are of Bath stone and the roof is covered with Cotswold stone slates. The building is considered to be of high architectural, historical, cultural and visual significance.
It architectural and historical significance lies in the fact that it was designed, not by Detmar Blow as recorded in the listing description, but by Walter E. Mills, an Oxford architect. It is not built in the local vernacular style but is more typical of an Edwardian country house. It is perhaps the first major country house to be built on Dartmoor, not as a permanent residence but as a place for recreation and leisure. The roofing slates are not local but from the Cotswolds. At the time the house was built the quarries around Naunton, Gloucestershire from whence the slates came employed about 1000 men and the slates were transported all over England by rail. It is also historically important for its transformation into a hotel in 1929 by the Great Western Railway Company and its use to attract visitors to the south-west.
The building is deemed as culturally significant for similar reasons. The original house epitomises the Edwardian era of the country house as a weekend and seasonal retreat. It also signifies a change in the social order; the land had been bought from its historic owners, the Earls of Devon by W.H. Smith with newly made Victorian wealth. It is also significant for the part it played in the rise of tourism in the 1920s and 1930s and the promotion of the south-west as a tourist destination by Great Western Railways.
The house may also be considered highly significant in its landscape and wider setting. It was built on open grassland or moorland and what appears to be a setting dominated by woodland and trees is an early 20th century creation. The house then is the most important feature in a ‘designed’, romantic, seemingly natural landscape.

Weighton, R., May 2014, the Petrographic Analysis, Provenancing and Matching of both a Tile-Stone and a Ridge-Stone Sample form the Roof of Bovey Castle (North Bovey Manor House), Dartmoor, Devon (Report - Scientific). SDV357180.

Petrographic analysis of a sample of roof tile and ridge stone. Both were identified as non-local limestone. The roof tiles are 'Cotswold slates' from the Middle Jurassic Eyford Member in Gloucestershire, the ridge tiles as Bath Stone form the Middle Jurassic Great Oolite Group succession in the Bath-Cotswolds area.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #80941 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347370Article in Serial: Simkins, M. A. + Simkins, R. J. J.. 1991. Lord Hambledon and Moretonhampstead. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 123. Unknown. 178-9.
SDV347892Website: Eden Hotel Collection. 2011. Bovey Castle. http://www.boveycastle.com. Website.
SDV347905Report - Assessment: Harmer, V.. 2003. Manor House Hotel, North Bovey. Historic Building Surveys Ltd. A4 Comb Bound. 1-4.
SDV357178Report - Survey: Weighton, R.. 2003/2014. Bovey Castle, North Bovey, Devon. Historic Building Report. Historic Building Surveys Ltd. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV357180Report - Scientific: Weighton, R.. May 2014. the Petrographic Analysis, Provenancing and Matching of both a Tile-Stone and a Ridge-Stone Sample form the Roof of Bovey Castle (North Bovey Manor House), Dartmoor, Devon. GR_208885/1. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV357182Report - non-specific: Weighton, R.. July 2014. Design & Access, Heritage & Justification Statement. R. Weighton. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV35465Related to: Archway 10 meters west of Manor House Hotel (Building)
MDV35462Related to: East Lodge to Manor House Hotel, North Bovey (Building)
MDV18245Related to: Former site of Leapra Cross, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV35466Related to: Gateway with lodges north of Manor House Hotel (Building)
MDV35467Related to: Gazebo at Manor House Hotel, North Bovey (Building)
MDV35464Related to: Lodge to Manor House Hotel, North Bovey (Building)
MDV35463Related to: Manor House Hotel gateway, North Bovey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5354 - Historic building report for Manor House Hotel
  • EDV6578 - Petrographic Analysis of Slates and Ridge Tiles at Bovey Castle

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2018 3:27PM