HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV1592
Name:Library and Former Librarian's House, Guildhall Square, Tavistock


Library and former librarian's house. Mainly early 19th century by the architect John Foulston, in a Gothic style.


Grid Reference:SX 482 744
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTavistock
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SE/52
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 93432

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LIBRARY (XIX - 1829 AD to 1869 AD (Between))

Full description

Kingdon, E. V., 1946, Tavistock Library, 229-238; Plate 25 (Article in Serial). SDV341358.

Tavistock Library, founded in 1799. First housed at the shop of William Tapson, a bookseller. In 1821 a 'temple of learning' was erected in the southwest corner of what is now Bedford Square. A house and the Bedford Arms were removed to make room for it. This new building, with its Doric portico was located just to the right of the church (plate 25). After just 11 years the library buidling was demolished as it was out of keeping with its surroundings and in the way of street improvements. The library was moved to the abbey buildings, where it is still housed today.

Department of Environment, 1983, Tavistock, 16 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV272550.

Library and Caretaker's House. Mainly early 19th century. Architect Foulston. This is a range between the Sergeant's House and the Abbey Gateway which dates mainly from the restoration of the Gatehouse and its conversion into a library in 1829. Two storeys stone rubble. Crenellated parapet. Moulded eaves cornice. Three double pointed sashes with hood moulding.

Reid, R., 1996, The Architectural Work of George Wightwick, 131 (Article in Serial). SDV336171.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2008, Tavistock (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV341354.

Amendement to the list of buildings of special architctural or historic interest for the Borough of West Devon, dated 13 November 2008: 'Library and Caretaker's House', to be replaced by 'Library and Librarian's House'.
Library and former librarian's house, now largely occupied by the Tavistock museum, except for the reading room of the Subscription Library. Circa 1830 by John Foulston in a Gothic style for the sixth Duke of Bedford. See list for full details.

West Devon Borough Council, 2009, Tavistock Conservation Area Management Plan, 11, 38 (Report - non-specific). SDV351411.

Young, T. F. E., 2011, The Archaeological Recording of Works undertaken at Court Gate Cottage, Tavistock, 1-5 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV348031.

The Court Gate Cottage stands on land that was once within the confines of Tavistock Abbey, abutting the Court Gate, the once public entrance to the Abbey. Court Gate was used in the late 19th and early 20th century as the town's library, with the librarian living in the small adjacent cottage. A door had been opened between the library and cottage which had subsequently been blocked up when the library moved to other premises. Tavistock Museum was recently granted a lease on the librarian's cottage, which had faced years of neglect and had been ravaged by dry and wet rot. Two phases of work were needed, the first to reopen the original doorway between Court Gate and the cottage, replace plaster, remove rotten timbers and repair the windows; the second would adress some external works and the redecoration of the cottage. Prior to the works taking place, a scheme for recording the relationship between masonry, timber and plaster (internal and external) of the ground floor windows. These windows, when removed, were found to be in an advanced state of both wet and dry rot, and repair was not possible. The new windows were copies of the originals. Report includes photographs and drawings.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

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

Library and former librarian's house, now largely occupied by the Tavistock Museum, except for the reading room of the Subscription Library. Circa 1830 by John Foulston in a Gothic style for the sixth Duke of Bedford.
Materials: Rubble, probably slatestone, with granite and plaster dressings and an embattled parapet above a moulded cornice. The roofs are slate. The window openings consist of square-headed frames with hoodmoulds and sash windows with arched lights.
Plan: Roughly L-shaped plan on the site of historic plots that define the north-east corner of the Great Court of Tavistock Abbey. It comprises the two storey former library range built against the north-east wall of the former abbey gateway and, at right angles, the two storey former librarian's house which incorporates an earlier crenellated turret at its south end and was extended to the rear to provide additional accommodation, probably in the 1860s.
Exterior: The front (south-west) elevation librarian's house is of two bays with a projecting turret to the far right. It has a central flat-headed entrance with a timber door with vertical beading, flanked by a sash window with plaster surround and a granite sill to either side. The two first floor windows match those to the ground floor. The ground floor turret window is also similar, though the first floor window is a false casement; both have granite rather than plaster surrounds. The rear elevation of the house is of painted brick to the ground floor and slate hung above; the windows are all sashes. The library range is built in matching materials and in the same Gothic style. Its principal elevation faces south east and has a narrow half-glazed entrance door with a single-light sash alongside, both set within a square-headed frame. The rear (north west) elevation has a symmetrical arrangement of three two-light windows with arched heads to both the ground and first floors.
Interior: The plan of the librarian's house has not changed significantly since the late 19th century. The entrance door leads into a hall with two rooms to the left; all retaining 19th century fireplaces and joinery. At the rear of the property in the 1860s addition is a kitchen and a pantry or scullery. A staircase with stick balusters positioned alongside the turret, gives access to the first floor. Upstairs there are two front rooms and three back rooms. The second front room has a fireplace with a timber surround that has roundel decoration, and in its north wall is an alcove which marks the position of the former doorway into the library. The ground floor of the library range comprises a small lobby with a narrow passage and the reading room of the Subscription Library which has a fireplace with a chamfered granite surround. A staircase at the south-west end of the range has stick balusters and a curtail step and it leads to a first floor landing and the former lecture room above the Subscription Library. This room has a vaulted ceiling rising from deeply moulded cornices and an elaborate Gothic chair at its east end; but the two doorways and timber screen at the entrance are not original. See listing description for history of site.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV272550List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1983. Tavistock. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 16.
SDV336171Article in Serial: Reid, R.. 1996. The Architectural Work of George Wightwick. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 128. A4 Stapled. 131.
SDV341354List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2008. Tavistock. Amendment to List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interes. A4 Stapled.
SDV341358Article in Serial: Kingdon, E. V.. 1946. Tavistock Library. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 78. A5 Hardback. 229-238; Plate 25.
SDV348031Report - Watching Brief: Young, T. F. E.. 2011. The Archaeological Recording of Works undertaken at Court Gate Cottage, Tavistock. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1-5.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81676 ]
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV351411Report - non-specific: West Devon Borough Council. 2009. Tavistock Conservation Area Management Plan. West Devon Borough Council Report. a4 Stapled + Digital. 11, 38.

Associated Monuments

MDV11799Related to: Court Gate, Tavistock Abbey (Building)
MDV72669Related to: Police Station and Former Fire engine house, Guildhall Square, Tavistock (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5467 - Archaeological Recording of Works at Court Gate Cottage, Tavistock

Date Last Edited:Jun 13 2013 4:12PM