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HER Number:MDV14233
Name:65 Fore Street, Totnes


According to a plaque, this late 16th century merchant’s house stands on the site of the gatehouse of Totnes Priory.


Grid Reference:SX 803 604
Map Sheet:SX86SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTotnes
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishTOTNES

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SW/63
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOUSE (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX86SW50 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV350508.

Department of Environment, 1978, Totnes, 27 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV342722.

'Priory Gate House', Number 65 Fore Street, Totnes. Visit in around 1977. According to a plaque, this late 16th century merchant’s house stands on the site of the gatehouse of Totnes Priory. Refaced in the 19th century. Three storeys, timber-framed slate-hung front. Incorporates walls of former 16th century house, with corbel for former jetty. Elizabethan plaster ceiling on ground floor, 17th century panelling. Part of gallery survives at rear. Little Priory. House incorporating an earlier detached kitchen block associated with number 65 Fore Street. House, formerly 2 cottages, early 19th century; kitchen block 16th or 17th century. 3 storeys. Cottages, 1 window each. Hipped Welsh slate roof. Front cottage with rendered masonry walls on 3 sides; east side of timber framed construction suggesting that the earlier building extended 2 (roof) bays further on this side. Other walls timber framed and mostly slate lining. Some early 19th century sash and casement windows with glazing bars. Modern cutting on north side. The front cottage part of the building retains a cellar with the ground floor covered on chamfered beams with rounded stepped stop. The cottage roof with arch braced roof of 3 bays. Principal formerly with jointed cruck feet suggesting that the roof bar has been raised. Notched apex and threaded purlins. Arched and curved braces with pegged dovetail lapped joints connecting to principal rafters to the top of the collar in each truss. One of only two arch-braced roof known for Totnes.

Laithwaite, M. and Henderson, C.G., 1985, Early Owners and Occupants of 61-5 Fore Street, Totnes, 66-68 (Article in Serial). SDV350509.

No. 65 Fore Street is a late 16th or early 17th house which was considerably altered in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Behind it is Little Priory which had become a separate house by the beginning of the 19th century but which was probably originally the back block of No. 65. No. 65 seems to have been built as a complete house since it has its own east party wall of stone which almost certainly pre-dates the demolition of the neighbouring house on the east to provide a passageway to the Priory. The house was almost certainly that of a leading Totnes citizen when it was built, although the first known occupant is minor merchant, Thomas Goodrudge (died 1579).

Davison, A. and Henderson, C.G., 1985, Excavations at Fore Street, Totnes, 1984-85, 64 (Article in Monograph). SDV340327.

Little Priory is the earliest surviving structure on the plot, for which structural and decorative features suggest a date in the third quarter of the 16th century, although an earlier date cannot be ruled out. Excavation showed that Little Priory occupied the full width of the plot. Built of stone, it comprised a cellar, a kitchen to the ground floor, and above a high quality chamber, perhaps a parlour, provided with decorative plaster ceiling carried on an arch-braced roof. Figure 41.

Egan, G., 1986, Post-Medieval Britain in 1985, 337-339 (Article in Serial). SDV350510.

Surveyed by the Exeter Museum Archaeological Field Unit in 1985. Standing 19 metres back from the street frontage, it was probably erected in the early to mid 16th century to the rear of a late medieval house fronting on the street. The cellar was originally reached by stairs leading from a rear courtyard. A possible kitchen was flanked on the west. The first floor chamber has a good quality plain arch-braced roof, suggestive of a relatively high status room, such as a parlour. Possibly the home of John Giles (died 1553). Excavation to the rear of Little Priory revealed an L-shaped range which enclosed a courtyard and had been built in 2 stages. As part of the circa 1600 rebuilding, a new kitchen block was added along the east side of the tenement, and a possible linhay built to about the north end of the new block. In the early 17th century a cross range was built against the front face of the linhay. This incorporated a side passage on the west, giving access to the garden. A well beneath the s wall of this range possibly supplied a pump in the courtyard. A 2-storey block was added to the rear of little priory in the 18th century. In the early 19th century, the eastern third of Little Priory, the 17th century additions to its rear and the eastern house on the street frontage were demolished to make way for a driveway to the 17th-18th century mansion (The Priory) in the former Priory grounds. At this time the 18th century rear block of Little Priory was heightened, and it became an independent house.

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

Later 16th century merchant’s house refaced earlier 19th century. On site of Priory gatehouse (plaque). Incorporates masonry party walls of former 16th century building with moulded corbel of former first floor jetty. 3 storeys, 2 windows. Hipped Welsh slate roof with coved eaves cornice. Timber-framed slate-hung front. Flush-framed sash windows with exposed boxing and glazing bars. Modern shopfront. Rear facade retains original 7-light mullioned window to ground floor with ovolo mouldings, and doorway with ovolo mouldings. Back ground floor room (former parlour) with Elizabethan plaster ceiling with decorated rib work and moulded ceiling beams; earlier 17th century panelling. Mid 18th century open staircase with closed string, turned balusters and square newels. Part of first floor gallery at rear survives; rebuilt as closet with 2-light mullioned window with ovolo mouldings and stay bars; muntin and plank partition and internal half-timbering show traces of painted decoration. First floor back room (former hall) with early 17th century chimney piece with bolection moulding. Grade II* for interior.

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

An excavation was undertaken at 61-65 Fore Street, Totnes by the Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit in 1985.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV340327Article in Monograph: Davison, A. and Henderson, C.G.. 1985. Excavations at Fore Street, Totnes, 1984-85. Exeter Archaeology 1984/5. A4 Stapled + Digital. 64.
SDV342722List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1978. Totnes. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 27.
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350508Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX86SW50. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV350509Article in Serial: Laithwaite, M. and Henderson, C.G.. 1985. Early Owners and Occupants of 61-5 Fore Street, Totnes. Exeter Archaeology 1985/5. A4 Stapled + Digital. 66-68.
SDV350510Article in Serial: Egan, G.. 1986. Post-Medieval Britain in 1985. Post-Medieval Archaeology. 20. Unknown. 337-339.
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

MDV41821Related to: Buildings at 61-65 Fore Street, Totnes (Building)
MDV92286Related to: Little Priory, Fore Street, Totnes (Building)
MDV9060Related to: Totnes Priory, north of Totnes Parish Church, Totnes (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6636 - Excavation, 61-65 Fore Street, Totnes

Date Last Edited:Mar 4 2020 11:31AM