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HER Number:MDV1468
Name:Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus


Finest Tudor house in Devon. Built in 16th century on site of older house. Service wing rebuilt and rest modernised in 19th century. Impressive front with tower over entrance. A number of rooms have 16th century plaster ceilings including the long gallery, which is 65ft long. Tree ring dating evidence revealed felling dates of early - mid 16th century.


Grid Reference:ST 305 119
Map Sheet:ST31SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHolcombe Rogus
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHOLCOMBE ROGUS

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST01NE/3
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: ST01NE3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANSION HOUSE (XVI to XIX - 1501 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

National Monuments Record, ST01NE/32186 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV339242.

Other details: Report, architectural plans and photos.

Unknown, Untitled Source, 48 (Article in Serial). SDV339236.

Polwhele, R., 1793-1806, The History of Devonshire, 370-1 (Monograph). SDV21030.

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica. Devonshire, 296, 135 (Monograph). SDV323771.

Unknown, 1861-1862, Holcombe Rogus Court, 43 (Article in Serial). SDV339237.

Ordnance Survey, 1906, 35NE (Cartographic). SDV335748.

Unknown, 1912, Holcombe Court, 57-60 (Article in Serial). SDV339238.

History of Roges family given along with description of house.

Unknown, 1913, Untitled Source, 532 (Article in Serial). SDV339241.

Waterfield, R., 1931, Proceedings at the Seventieth Annual Meeting, held at Exeter, 23rd June, 1931, 46-48 (Article in Serial). SDV347412.

Record of visit to Holcombe Court by members of the Devonshire Association with a note on the house by Mr Reed. The principal part of this Tudor house was built by Roger Bluett, upon the site of the old manor house. The earlier work includes the hall and its porch, which is continued upwards as a tower of three storey's. Late gothic. Altered early 17th century. Cellar at upper end of the hall was converted into a diningroom, and the buildings at the opposite end were enlarged, the fireplace of which bears the date 1591, being added above the kitchen, and a new building made eastwards. The timber roof of the hall was hidden by a flat ceiling, the space being used as a gallery above hall and drawingroom. The panelling, chimney-piece and plaster ceiling of the diningroom are 16th century. The principal staircase, square on plan, is at the north east corner of hall, and leads to great chamber now a bedroom, having a 16th century plaster chimney-piece. The stairs, the steps of which are formed of large single blocks of wood, continue upward through a gate to the long gallery. This room has a flat plaster ceiling with simple ornaments below the collarbeams of the old roof, the sloping sides of which are cut off by plaster partitions into a number of small rooms between the trusses. Used by tapestry workers. The eastern part of the wing at the kitchen end of the hall has mostly been taken down, the present kitchen being in the modern part of the house. The old screen was destroyed in the 17th century; the doorways of the kitchen, pantry and butlery remain. The library to the east of these has an elaborate plaster ceiling and panelling. A fourth doorway next to the porch is the entrance to the vice which leads to the drawingroom and the tower rooms. Drawingroom fireplace is Elizabethan; panelling 17th century, when new doorway was made to a balcony which replaced the old minstrel's gallery. At the south west corner of the drawingroom is a rectangular garde-robe turret. On each of the three upper floors of the porch tower is a small room, lighted by a window in a bay which is corbelled out above the doorway of the porch. 16th century panelling in these rooms. Fireplace on second floor bears the shield of arms of Chichester. On roof of the stair turret is a length of ornamental lead guttering. Greatly added to in the 19th century, and the house now surrounds a small open court, the kitchen and its offices being in the new wing. Ceiling, panelling and screen of the hall are modern. Some old shields of arms in the glass in the hall windows. Handsome brass chandelier, early 18th century, in the hall, used to hang in Tiverton church. The manor is recorded in Domesday Book when it was held by Rogo, under Baldwin the Sheriff. The manor remained for centuries in the Bluett family until sold in 1857.

Unknown, 1934, Holcombe Court, 39-43 (Article in Serial). SDV339240.

Historical and architectural discussion given at time of visit in 1934.

Department of Environment, 1951, Holcombe Rogus (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV339243.

Holcombe Court. Mansion, the finest Tudor house in Devon. Early C16, partly rebuilt in the mid C16, major late C16 modernisations, some late C17 modernisations. It was built for the Bluett family who lived there until 1857. It was then brought by the Reverend W. Rayer who largely rebuilt the service wings and extensively modernised the rest between 1859 - 63. Local grey-coloured limestone laid to rough courses, the mid C19 work of larger and more carefully squared blocks of the same stone; Beerstone and Hamstone detail; local limestone stacks and chimneyshafts; slate roofs.
Plan and development: large courtyard plan house built next to the Church of All Saints (q.v) and in its own grounds overlooking the main street of Holcombe Rogus. The main block faces south-east and it is the historic core of the house. It has a 3-room-and-through-passage plan with a tower-like 4-storey porch in front of the doorway. The porch has a broad newel stair turret in the angle of porch and main
block. This and the service end of the main block are early C16. The double-height hall has a projecting rear lateral stack. At the upper end the main stair is housed in its own block projecting to rear in a corner of the courtyard. Inner room parlour or dining room at the right (north-east) end of the main block. It and the principal chamber above have a gable-end stack. The long gallery runs across the top of the passage, hall and parlour chamber. This section was probably built circa 1550-1560. So too was the north-east wing but this was modernised in the mid C19. The service end of the main block was modernised in the mid or late C16 at which time the original service arrangement was altered and the chamber above (the Court Room) refurbished. The rest of the house was largely rebuilt in the C19. A new main staircase and library was built in the south-west wing and the north-west wing contains a full height kitchen and the service rooms. Most of the rooms are heated by either lateral or axial stacks. In the older parts the precise historical development of the house is not clear. This is partly because the C19 modernisation was carried out in Tudor style and reused old material, but even where the work is original the evidence can be confusing. For instance, the long gallery is dated circa 1550 - 1560 because it includes the name of Roger Bluett who died in 1566. If so it is the earliest ornamental plasterwork known in Devon. On the other hand it could commemorate the
death of Sir Roger Bluett. Also the ornamental plasterwork in the Court Room is dated 1591 but this may only date the overmantel. The ceiling looks as if it could be earlier. For the main part the house is 2 storeys.
Exterior: the front is particularly impressive. It is dominated by the showpiece entrance tower. It has set back buttresses and embattled parapet, a large 4-centred outer arch with moulded surround and, above it, a canted bay window is corbelled out and carried up all 3 of the upper storeys. A stone plaque containing the Bluett arms is set below the lowest of these windows. The windows of the tower, its stair turret and the left end are stone-mullioned with Tudor arched heads; early C16 in character. Those of the hall and inner room end, to right of the tower, are also stone mullioned but here have square-headed lights, some are ovolo-moulded. There are 2 enormous 6-light windows with central transoms to the hall. The inner room bay window is a replacement of 1975 but the chamber above has a 4-light window with upper transom and hoodmould. Moulded eaves cornice below a parapet from which rise 2 large gables from the long gallery. Each contains a central 4-light window flanked by tiny 2-light windows and with, another directly above. The top ones are above ceiling level and there purely for effect. Both gables have fleur-de-lys finials. The fenestration around the rest of the house is similar in style, including those in the C19 blocks. The rear elevation, for instance, includes a pair of tall windows to the kitchen. The rear of the hall shows the blocking of a full height window. There is, on top of the entrance tower, a short length of C16 ornamental lead guttering.
Good interior: the hall is mid C19 Tudor with C19 oak screen, fireplace and ribbed ceiling. The plasterwork maybe based on the original; (some plaster moulds are stored in the house). On the lower side of the passage are 4 early C16 pointed arch doorways, one to the entrance tower stair, the other 3 a conventional service arrangement and one contains an interesting studded plank door with folding flaps. The service end was rearranged in the mid or late C16. The right 2 doorways now lead into a narrow corridor parallel with the main passage and beyond the corridor a well-appointed chamber, traditionally known as the Judges Room. It and the corridor has an ornamental plaster cornice and the room is lined with circa 1700 large field bolection panelling. The Court Room above is particularly well-appointed. Its high ceiling has an ornamental ceiling of moulded plasterwork, a geometric plan of single ribs ornamented only by moulded bosses and a central pendant. Around the side walls the ribs converge and descend a short distance down the wall like a series of half
engaged pendants. There are floral sprays between. This ornamental plasterwork looks early and somewhat similar to the possibly mid C16 plasterwork the other end. There is a plasterwork frieze around the room, a repeating strapwork motif which contains the date 1591 on the chimney breast. This is certainly associated with the splendid moulded plaster overmantel which features the Bluett arms. This
plasterwork has been described in some detail to illustrate the dating problems in the house. However, since the house is relativly well-known (see below) only the best of the other C16 and C17 features are mentioned here. The Court Room is lined with circa 1700 bolection panelling. One doorway leads off to the tower stair close to the first floor room there, the Muniment Room. Its doorway is richly carved and interior is lined with high quality late C16 small flew oak panelling featuring a frieze of carved scenes, and including a contemporary muniment cupboard. The room above has plainer panelling and a simple moulded plaster overmantel featuring the arms of Elizabeth Chichester (wife of Richard Bluett, she died in 1614). The library in the south-west wing has perhaps the most elaborate intersecting beam ceiling in Devon; it is early C16 but was reset here in the C19. The doorway from the hall to the inner room parlour is a C19 insertion. It was originally entered from the stair block. The parlour has an ornamental plaster ceiling which appears to cover another intersecting beam ceiling. Good late C16-early C17 small field oak panelling around the room including a fine oak chimneypiece divided into 3 bays by pairs of fluted Ionic pilasters. The main stair rises round a masonry core, its ceiling enriched with simple rib pattern of plasterwork from circa 1550 - 1560. The chamber over the parlour has a moulded plaster ceiling of the same date (it uses identical motifs to the Long Gallery ceiling). The ornamental plasterwork chimneypiece here however is probably secondary, late C16. It is of very good quality but given charm for its rustic craftsmanship; it features Moses and the brazen serpent in a strapwork cartouche. The Long Gallery is the grandest in Devon, and its ornamental plaster ceiling is crucial to the dating and development of Devonshire plasterwork. It is flat with coved corners down to a narrow frieze of arabesques. Its ornamentation comprises
longitudual moulded ribs dividing to create pointed panels in which are set moulded plaster motifs such as the Tudor Rose, 'snowflake' bosses and the initials spelling Roger Bluett (d.1566). The gallery also includes 9 tiny rooms each with an individual plank door off-the gallery. Another at the top of the stairs is a little larger than the others and has a simple rib design on its ceiling. The stair also contains a C17 dog gate, 3 tiers of turned balusters. The roof structure over the Long Gallery, plain A-frames on tie beams, is apparently contemporary with the ceiling. The north-east wing roof is probably the same date, a series of arch-
braced trusses.
Holcombe Court is spectacularly attractive, both in itself and also in a group of attractive buildings at the top end of Holcombe Rogus. As the only C16 mansion of this size to survive in Devon it is also of great importance to the understanding of Tudor plan forms and decoration in the south-west.
Sources: the owner has the C19 plans of the house. NMR includes some measured architectural plans of several features. Penguin Buildings of England Series ed.Bridget Cherry, Devon. (forthcoming). E. Marsh Phillips, Holcombe Court, Devonshire, Country Life Vol. XXXVII (1915) pp 48-53. Andrew Gabriel and Barbara Fletcher, A Short History of Holcombe Rogus (1978). Other details: LBS No 95970.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 100-101 (Monograph). SDV336196.

The front of Holcombe Court is the most spectacular piece of Early Tudor domestic architecture in Devon. Dated c1520-30. It is asymmetrical with a big buttressed tower over the entrance and a broad and high stair turret to its left. The tower windows are original. The north west wing was pulled down in 1845 and extensive rebuilding took place, especially at the back, in 1858-9. The hall has an 1858 screen and ceiling. In the study is a re-used ceiling with heavy moulded beams and elaborately decorated bosses from the first building period of the house. The drawing room on the first floor has a chimneypiece dated 1591. The chimney piece in the bedroom has a relief of the Brazen Serpent. On the second floor a gallery, 65ft long, runs all along the front.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 276, 410-11 (Monograph). SDV17562.

French, K. + French, C., 1957, Devonshire Plasterwork, 126,127,129,132,138, pl17,8E (Article in Serial). SDV4676.

References to plasterwork in Holcombe Court including a ceiling of c1540 in the long gallery and another of 1591 in the drwaing room.

Department of Environment, 1959, Tiverton RD, 23 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV54004.

Impressive early Tudor house with imposing tower porch and great hall. Good plaster ceilings. Rubble and ashlar slate roofs.

Unknown, 1961, Untitled Source, 10 (Article in Serial). SDV339239.

Copeland, G. W., 1964, Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting, 23 (Article in Serial). SDV57390.

Visited 10th June 1964. Holcombe Court has been described as the finest Tudor House in Devon. Features include the gate tower and stair turret, the great hall, the drawing room which has a fine fire place and ceiling, and the long gallery.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1967, ST01NE3, Photograph (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV339233.

Site visits 2nd November 1953 and 25th October 1967. Described as an outstanding building.
The front, which faces south, is early Tudor, c.1520-30. It is assymetrical with a buttressed town over the entrance, still with the original windows. The windows of the hall to the right are proably late 16th century. The north-west wing was pulled down in 1845 and extensive rebuilding took place in the 1850s, particularly at the back (Pevsner. Buildings of England - North Devon).
See cards for information from other sources.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 53 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

16th century gatehouse.

Gabriel, A. + Fletcher, B., 1986, A Short History of Holcombe Rogus, 10 (Monograph). SDV56246.

Holcombe Court was enlarged and mainly rebuilt by Roger Bluett, who died in 1566. It had until then been a simple one storey manor house. The oldest parts of the present court are the front porch with its carving of the Bluett arms; the three storey tower; the great hall with its fine plaster ceiling; and the dining room which leads from it. The tower has several rooms with interesting carving of the period. The court was again improved by Richard Bluett in 1591. A handsome drawing room was built over the older kitchen and offices, with a fine fireplace. This room had its own separate staircase from outside, and was used as a court room, with a private stair to the judge's room below. There is a long gallery running the length of the building which was formed when the ceiling of the great hall was put in place. There are rows of cells along the gallery, thought to have been occupied by the daughters of neighbouring gentry, who came to be educated by the lady of the manor. The court is noted for its early Tudor ceilings and chimney pieces and carving, and is an attractive example of a Tudor country house set in walled gardens.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GY, 9-15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV339068.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UI, 15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV51650.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UJ, 1 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337966.

Gray, T., 1995, The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources, 124-5 (Monograph). SDV671.

Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.), 2000, Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4, 196-9 (DRO 564M/F17/113) (Monograph). SDV339713.

Revd Swete visited Holcombe Court in 1801. The entrance tower, he says in his diary, is probably the most ancient part of the house, the hall with its carved work and painted glass was built in the mid 16th century. An undated view of the house, entitled 'Holcombe Court, Seat of Peter Bluett Esq.' shows the tower and adjoining hall and also a circular dovecot.

Cox, J., 2011, The Walronds Part 2, 31, 34, 40, 46, Figure 12, 13 (Article in Serial). SDV347496.

There are two plaster overmantels at Holcombe Court; the chamber has an armorial overmantel dated 1591 commemmorating the marriage of Roger Bluett to Elizabeth Chichester and another features an Old Testament tableau. Moulded elements of the wooden panelling the parlour carved out of the solid rather than the applied, a technique seen also at The Walronds and Chevithorne Barton.

Alcock, N. + Tyers, C., 2012, Tree Ring Date List 2012, 78-106 (Article in Serial). SDV361639.

Tree ring dating evidence noted from Holcombe Court (ST056190), HOLCOMBE ROGUS:
(a) Roof to north-east range Felling date range: 1521–39 (OxCal: unrefined 1519–51)
(b) Long Gallery roof Felling date range: 1542–53 (OxCal: unrefined 1530–62)
(c) King-post extension to Long Gallery Felling date range: 1528–60.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 2013, Holcombe Court (Un-published). SDV357778.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 276, 410-11.
SDV21030Monograph: Polwhele, R.. 1793-1806. The History of Devonshire. The History of Devonshire. Unknown. 370-1.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Devonshire. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. 296, 135.
SDV335748Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 35NE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 53.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 100-101.
SDV337966Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UJ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1.
SDV339068Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GY. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9-15.
SDV339233Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1967. ST01NE3. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index + Digital. Photograph.
SDV339236Article in Serial: Unknown. Country Life. 37 (ND). Unknown. 48.
SDV339237Article in Serial: Unknown. 1861-1862. Holcombe Rogus Court. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 11. Unknown. 43.
SDV339238Article in Serial: Unknown. 1912. Holcombe Court. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 58 part 1. Unknown. 57-60.
SDV339239Article in Serial: Unknown. 1961. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 105. Unknown. 10.
SDV339240Article in Serial: Unknown. 1934. Holcombe Court. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 80. Unknown. 39-43.
SDV339241Article in Serial: Unknown. 1913. Archaeological Journal. 70. Unknown. 532.
SDV339242National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. ST01NE/32186. National Monuments Record Database. Unknown.
SDV339243List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1951. Holcombe Rogus. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV339713Monograph: Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.). 2000. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Sw. 4. Hardback Volume. 196-9 (DRO 564M/F17/113).
SDV347412Article in Serial: Waterfield, R.. 1931. Proceedings at the Seventieth Annual Meeting, held at Exeter, 23rd June, 1931. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 46-48.
SDV347496Article in Serial: Cox, J.. 2011. The Walronds Part 2. Devon Buildings Group Newsletter. 29. A4 Stapled + Digital. 31, 34, 40, 46, Figure 12, 13.
SDV357778Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 2013. Holcombe Court. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV361639Article in Serial: Alcock, N. + Tyers, C.. 2012. Tree Ring Date List 2012. Vernacular Architecture. 43. Digital. 78-106.
SDV4676Article in Serial: French, K. + French, C.. 1957. Devonshire Plasterwork. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 126,127,129,132,138, pl17,8E.
SDV51650Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UI. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 15.
SDV54004List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1959. Tiverton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 23.
SDV56246Monograph: Gabriel, A. + Fletcher, B.. 1986. A Short History of Holcombe Rogus. A Short History of Holcombe Rogus. Unknown. 10.
SDV57390Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1964. Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 96. A5 Paperback. 23.
SDV671Monograph: Gray, T.. 1995. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. Paperback Volume. 124-5.

Associated Monuments

MDV73911Related to: Cellar and wood sheds at Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Building)
MDV12356Related to: Chevithorne Barton, Tiverton (Building)
MDV73910Related to: Coach House and Stables, Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Building)
MDV1469Related to: Dovecote at Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Monument)
MDV19142Related to: EARTHWORK in the Parish of Holcombe Rogus (Monument)
MDV54832Related to: Garden at Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Monument)
MDV73912Related to: Kitchen garden wall, Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Building)
MDV73909Related to: Stables and Coach House, Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Building)
MDV73913Related to: Terraced wall in front of Holcombe Court, Holcombe Rogus (Building)
MDV1410Related to: The Walronds, Cullompton (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2024 4:35PM