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HER Number:MDV1470
Name:The Priest's House, Holcombe Rogus


Former church house dating to the early or mid 16th century with a 19th century stable extension. Restored by the Landmark Trust circa 1984.


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

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: ST01NE6
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST01NE/4
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 95968

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH HOUSE (Built, XVI - 1501 AD (Between) to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Williams, E. H. D., Holcombe Rogus (Un-published). SDV56705.

Manuscript notes and ground plan. Cited in listed buildings description.

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

Copeland, G. W., 1960, Devonshire Church-Houses: Part 1 (Article in Serial). SDV298102.

Sometimes referred to as a priest's house. It is outside the churchyard and south-west of the church, abutting into the grounds of Holcombe Court. Well-restored. The most striking feature of the interior is the fireplace at the south end with an oak lintel the full width of the building. There are two flues carried upwards in a breast still very wide in the room above, where it narrows. The hearth is cobble-paved. The flat ceiling of the lower room is in part original, with very well moulded beams dividing the area into 8 compartments. At west end is a smaller fireplace with a simply moulded lintel (oak). At east end are the remains of three openings with large dimensions, either of windows or a doorway and two windows. Some two-light windows remain, the upper room, reached by a light later wooden staircase, has a high pitched open- timber roof with collar beams, etc. All unmoulded. At the west end is still another fireplace. The unusual number of windows, doorways, and fireplaces suggests that it has more than once been altered or adapted. The raking buttresses against the stone walls are later additions, but the string course at the east end is an original feature. There are two lofty chimney stacks which are also original.

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

Described as a fine example of a church house.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 110 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Jointed cruck recorded (citing Hulland).

Timms, S., 1984, Priest's House, Holcombe Rogus (Personal Comment). SDV56698.

The property has been taken over by the Landmark Trust for repair and conversion.

Gabriel, A. + Fletcher, B., 1986, A Short History of Holcombe Rogus, 11 (Monograph). SDV56246.

The priest's house beside the church entrance was built in about 1540. It is probably the oldest building in the village after the court and the church. It is said to have the largest fireplace in Devon, and the design is typical of such houses - with the lower floor used for visitors to the village, and the upper floor as living quarters of the priest. It was used for meetings and other village events. The house was in use until about 1700, when Robert Bluett became vicar of the parish and continued to live in the court. The priest's house deteriorated over the years until it was bought from the court by the Landmark Trust in 1984, who has restored it as near as possible to its original state.

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

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 88 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Department of Environment, 1988, Holcombe Rogus, 87 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV339247.

Rubble with slate roof and stone stacks, one lateral. Two storeys. Wood mullioned windows. Doorway with cambered wood head on south. 16th century.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 347 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UI, 1, 15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV51650.

Dyer, C., 2008, Building in Earth in Late Medieval England (Article in Serial). SDV361587.

Ordnance Survey, 2015, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV357601.

English Heritage, 2015, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV357602.

Former church house. Early or mid C16, C19 stable extension, carefully restored by the Landmark Trust circa 1984. Exposed local rubble stone rubble; stone rubble stacks with stone rubble chimneyshafts; slate roof, formerly thatch. Plan: 3-room plan house facing north-east onto the lane from Fore Street to the Church of All Saints (q.v). In fact the right (north-west) end intrudes into the churchyard and the house backs onto the grounds of Holcombe Court (q.v). The centre room has a projecting rear lateral stack and the left end room has a gable-end stack backing onto the C19 stable extension. The building has been much altered over the centuries, much of this due to periods of neglect, but it is therefore difficult to determine the precise layout and any development. It is 2 storeys. Exterior: irregular front fenestration with 4 ground floor and 2 first floor windows, all oak-framed with chamfered mullions and containing rectangular panes of leaded glass. Most are C20 replacements and even those which incorporate C16 or C17 work have been heavily restored. The present front door is left of centre and contains an old (but not original) plain oak frame and C20 plank door. There is a another doorway now blocked alongside this one to right (the other side of one of the 3 C20 stone rubble buttresses) and it is not known which if either of these doorways is the original. There is a plain dripcourse across the front below the first floor windows. The roof is gable-ended dropping down in level to the C19 stable extension which has a blind front wall. The right gable-end wall (onto the churchyard) has a blocked first floor doorway. The windows this end and those to rear are similar to those on the front. Interior: was not available for inspection at the time of this survey. Nevertheless it is clear that it was thoroughly and carefully restored circa 1984. The ground floor oak plank-and-muntin partitions have been rebuilt on the evidence of their surviving headbeams. Similarly the ceiling timbers have much new oak let into them. The outer rooms have soffit-chamfered axial beams and the centre one has a 4-panel ceiling of moulded intersecting beams. Both fireplaces have oak lintels, the left room one across the full width of the room; it is reputed to be the largest fireplace in Devon. According to previous reports the roof is carried on 4 clean side-pegged jointed crucks, the left (south-eastern) one filled with wattle and daub. This is a well-restored building which occupies a prominent position amongst a group of listed buildings which includes Holcombe Court (q.v) and the church of All Saints (q.v). Sources: Commander E H D Williams, manuscript notes with ground plan with NMR. G W Copeland, Devonshire Church - Houses, Part I, Trans. Devon Assoc 92 (1960) P127.

A & K Architectural Services, 2021, The Priests House, Holcombe Rogus, TA21 0PA (Report - Assessment). SDV364492.

Heritage statement prepared as part of documentation for a planning application by the Landmark Trust for remodeling the first floor of The Priest's House. It includes the History Album by The Landmark Trust which was originally written in 1985 and updated in 2019.
Church Houses, which sprang up between about 1450 and 1540, were originally used for communal feasts to raise money and also to feed and house travellers and the poor. Following the reformation, from the late 16th century they were put to other uses such as poor-houses, schools, inns or cottages. The Priest's House is presumed to have been a priest's lodging at one time, hence the name but it was used as a poor-house in the 19th century.
The Priest's House is late medieval church house built circa 1500 situated at the south-west corner of the churchyard. The large kitchen fireplace, mullioned windows and jointed cruck roof are all thought to be contemporary with this date. There were also formerly external steps to the first floor; the doorway is still visible in the north wall. Two fireplaces were subsequently added on the first floor. A single storey wagon shed was also added to the south and which was later enlarged to become a stable. Wide openings were also made in the east wall which caused the front wall to bulge leading to the addition of buttresses. These openings were blocked up in the 19th century.
By 1858, however, the house was in a ruinous condition. Some interior features including a screen and the first floor beams were removed in 1904 when the land agent for the Holcombe Court estate laid claim to the building with a view to demolition. Intervention by the parish council led to an injunction on behalf of the trustees of the estate, preventing the demolition and upholding the parish's claim to ownership and restoration work began in 1906. The removed timbers and screen were salvaged and reinstated. Half of the roof was renewed in the after a tree fell on it during a storm [the difference in the slating is clearly visible in a photo taken in the 1980s].
The building was acquired by Landmark in 1983 when further restoration works took place including the rebuilding of the north gable and chimneys. The roof was re-covered in Delabole slate and some windows were replaced. Within the house, the partition screens on the ground floor are new and on the first floor modern partitions and ceilings were inserted.
See report for full details

Sources / Further Reading

SDV298102Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1960. Devonshire Church-Houses: Part 1. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 92. A5 Hardback.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 347.
SDV339068Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GY. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9-15.
SDV339247List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Holcombe Rogus. Historic Houses Register. Website. 87.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 110.
SDV357601Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2015. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #81322 ]
SDV357602National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2015. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV361587Article in Serial: Dyer, C.. 2008. Building in Earth in Late Medieval England. Vernacular Architecture. 39. Unknown.
SDV364492Report - Assessment: A & K Architectural Services. 2021. The Priests House, Holcombe Rogus, TA21 0PA. A & K Architectural Services. 0898LBC. Digital.
SDV51650Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UI. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1, 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. 11.
SDV56698Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1984. Priest's House, Holcombe Rogus. Not Applicable.
SDV56705Un-published: Williams, E. H. D.. Holcombe Rogus. Manuscript.
SDV57390Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1964. Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 96. A5 Paperback. 23.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 88.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2024 4:17PM