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HER Number:MDV19787
Name:Poltimore Deer park


A deer park at Poltimore is mentioned in the 16th century and was still extant in 1892. The 19th century deer park was almost twice the size of its Tudor predecessor.


Grid Reference:SX 968 961
Map Sheet:SX99NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishPoltimore
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPOLTIMORE

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Tree ring, part of the designed landscape of Poltimore Park

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX99NE/9/3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DEER PARK (First mentioned, XVI - 1501 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Dean, R., Land at Poltimore House, Poltimore, Geophysical Earth Resistance Survey (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV357252.

The geophysical survey was undertaken to further investigate the potential archaeology highlighted by another gradiometer survey. A total of 45 resistance anomaly groups were identified as representing possible archaeological deposits or structures.
One group of anamolies (group 40), has a position and orientation that suggests it may be related to the Deer Park boundary shown on the 1809 Margary map.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX99NE13 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV115451.

NMR, Untitled Source (National Monuments Record Database). SDV115443.

Poltimore Park, mentioned in Saxton's map, has an area of 280 acres with a fence consisting of iron handles and paling, and has a natural water supply from a stream running through the park. Other details: Citing 'Deerparks of England'.

Shirley, E. P., 1867, Some Account of English Deerparks, 91 (Monograph). SDV314505.

Poltimore Deerpark mentioned in Saxton's map (16th century). Still extant in 1822.

Gallant, L., 1986, Deer Parks and Paddocks of England (Un-published). SDV656.

Poltimore acquired by Bampfyldes soon after 1303. House shown inside park on Speed's map of 1610.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 688-90 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Sainsbury, I. S., 1990, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV115452.

NMR, 1990, Visit by RCHME (Site Visit). SDV115444.

A former deer park. The area of the park as delinated on OS 1907, shown by green line on OS 1:2500 is approx 83ha (205 acres) not 280 acres as stated by Shirley. The area is now predominantly arable and pasture fields. Other details: Citing Salisbury.

Pugsley, S, 1994, Devon Gardens, 6,92,94,125-9 (Monograph). SDV672.

Gray, T., 1995, The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources, 179-80 (Monograph). SDV671.

Swete visited Poltimore in 1800 and wrote that 'the grounds or Park, which lies in front [of the house] extended into unvarying flat, having few, if any circumstances of local or adventitious beauty to recommend it'. White (1850) noted a beautiful park. The parkland and a lodge survive as does the 19th century stables. See entry for further details.

Devon Gardens Trust, 1999, Devon Local Register, 113 (Un-published). SDV170167.

Salvatore, J. P., 1999, Poltimore Deer Park (Poltimore) (Un-published). SDV348420.

Site visit 15th April 1999. The deer park is shown on Saxton's map of the 16th century, Donn's map of 1765 and the Ordnance Survey map of 1889. it had an area of about 83 hectares and was described as being enclosed by an iron fence and paling. Poltimore House, a large late Georgian mansion is currently unoccupied and in a ruinous state following fire damage. It passed out of private ownership at the beginning of the 20th century and was maintained as a private hospital, later taken over by the National Health Service. At some stage during its ownership by the National Health Service the deer park was sold off for farm land and it now comprises pasture and arable fields. There are no obvious signs of the former use of the land as a deer park and no surviving original lenghts of pale were encountered during the Monument Protection Programme field investigation. Not recommended for scheduling.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 1999, Poltimore House (Un-published). SDV357690.

English Heritage, 1999, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV115445.

Now comprises pasture and arable fields. No obvious signs of former use as deer park and no surviving lengths of pale noted.

Land Use Consultants + Lambert, D., 2001, Poltimore House: historical landscape survey (Report - Survey). SDV321966.

From 1780 there was a gradual deformalisation of the garden which was laid out formally in 1670. An english landscape park was created and by 1850 it had been considerably enlarged & improved. The mid 19C also saw the establishment of a 'Pinetum'. By 1920 the deer park had suffered through loss of trees & land to agriculture.

Cunningham, P., 2010, Buttons, Bullets and Berry Head (Article in Serial). SDV360824.

Poltimore House was also the centrepiece of a polite landscape, a grand country residence embedded within parklands and gardens that were intended for pleasure and visual impact. Five hectares of the house's surroundings are owned by Poltimore House Trust and comprise a multi-phase landscape including ornamental canals and water features, designed avenues, an aviary/menagerie, rich historic garden architecture and a former deer park.

Greenwood, L., 2012, Poltimore Community and Landscapes Project. Test Pit Report: Trench 3 (Report - Excavation). SDV361008.

Test pit excavation located in an area of high resistence identified by a resistivity survey. The excavation revealed large flat stones of a former road surface. Finds (63 in total) included glass including pieces from a 17th century onion bottle, bone fragments, clay pipe, metal, flint and pottery including pieces of 17th-18th century ridge tile.

Wright, D., 2012, Poltimore Community and Landscapes Project: Test Pit Report Trenches 4-6 (Report - Excavation). SDV361010.

Three test pits excavated located in an area of high archaeological potential as indicated by geophysical survey. A possible linear feature running east-west was revealed in Trench 4. Finds mostly comprised pottery of which some coarse gritty ware may be of medieval date. No features were recorded in Trench 5 or Trench 6. Finds from both trenches comprised mainly pottery, mostly of post medieval date. Some clay pipe fragments were also recovered.
The finds of medieval pottery are particularly noteworthy, as they may indicate the location of the medieval manor house, the predecessor of the present house. The relative absence of medieval pottery from fieldwalking on the estate suggests that it was not given over to agriculture at this time but was already a medieval deer park.

Singleton, J., 2012, Poltimore Park, Poltimore House, Exeter, Devon: Results from a Fieldwalking Survey (Report - Survey). SDV361005.

Poltimore Park was used as a deer park from at least the Tudor period. The area surveyed lay on the west side of the park and contained two farm buildings until the 19th century when they were demolished to make way for an enlargement of the park.

Devon Gardens Trust, 2013, Devon Gazetteer of Parks and Gardens of Local Interest (Reg/Local list of Historic Parks and Gdns). SDV354335.

Creighton, O. + Cunningham, P. + French, H., 2013, Peopling Polite Landscapes. Community and Heritage at Poltimore, Devon (Article in Serial). SDV361004.

The deer park at Poltimore was in existence by the late 16th century and is shown on Saxton’s 1575 and Speed’s 1610 maps of Devon. There may have been an earlier pre-Tudor park attached to an earlier manor house but no documentary evidence has been found to support this. The Tudor park was surrounded by a timber pale on an earthwork bank, vestiges of which were recorded by geophysical survey. The house lay on the northwest side.
The park reached its greatest extent in the 19th century by which time it was about twice the size of the original Tudor park.
As a result of the park’s expansion in the 1830s, following the enoblement of the Bampfylde family in 1831 and the creation of the first Baron Poltimore, two farms on its south side were abandoned (a scatter of building materials from one of the farms was found during a fieldwalking survey). A road that formerly ran broadly north-south through the park was diverted to skirt the eastern edge of an enlarged park and a new lodge built [Threepenny Lodge] by a new private driveway to the house from the north-east. The intention seems to have been to create vistas of rolling parkland, removing the working parts of the estate from view of the house; the stables and garden complex to the northeast of the house were also abandoned and a new stable block and kitchen garden built to the northwest accessible from the village by a newly built road.
The park was further expanded to the south circa 1850 leading to the abandonment of Pit Farm. In 1870 a new carriageway was built from the southeast corner of the park, its curving course designed to showcase the house and park. A new lodge was built at the entrance. The park is described in 1892 as covering 280 acres surrounded by iron hurdles and paling with a herd of 150 deer.
The breakup of the estate during the 20th century left a park of only 13 acres by 1976.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 2013, Poltimore House (Un-published). SDV357691.

Poltimore was recorded as a Deer Park in 1575.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV115443National Monuments Record Database: NMR.
SDV115444Site Visit: NMR. 1990. Visit by RCHME.
SDV115445Site Visit: English Heritage. 1999.
SDV115451Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX99NE13. SX99NE.
SDV115452Report - Survey: Sainsbury, I. S.. 1990. RCHME Field Investigation.
SDV170167Un-published: Devon Gardens Trust. 1999. Devon Local Register. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. A4 Stapled + Digital. 113.
SDV314505Monograph: Shirley, E. P.. 1867. Some Account of English Deerparks. Some Account of English Deerparks. Unknown. 91.
SDV321966Report - Survey: Land Use Consultants + Lambert, D.. 2001. Poltimore House: historical landscape survey. Garden History Society Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 688-90.
SDV348420Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1999. Poltimore Deer Park (Poltimore). Monuments Protection Programme. Report on Site for which Scheduling is Not . A4 Single Sheet.
SDV354335Reg/Local list of Historic Parks and Gdns: Devon Gardens Trust. 2013. Devon Gazetteer of Parks and Gardens of Local Interest. Historic Parks and Gardens - Register and Local List. Digital.
SDV357252Report - Geophysical Survey: Dean, R.. Land at Poltimore House, Poltimore, Geophysical Earth Resistance Survey. Substrata. 120702. Digital.
SDV357690Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 1999. Poltimore House. Devon Register Review. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357691Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 2013. Poltimore House. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV360824Article in Serial: Cunningham, P.. 2010. Buttons, Bullets and Berry Head. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 107. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV361004Article in Serial: Creighton, O. + Cunningham, P. + French, H.. 2013. Peopling Polite Landscapes. Community and Heritage at Poltimore, Devon. Landscape History. 33. Digital.
SDV361005Report - Survey: Singleton, J.. 2012. Poltimore Park, Poltimore House, Exeter, Devon: Results from a Fieldwalking Survey. University of Exeter. Digital.
SDV361008Report - Excavation: Greenwood, L.. 2012. Poltimore Community and Landscapes Project. Test Pit Report: Trench 3. University of Exeter. Digital.
SDV361010Report - Excavation: Wright, D.. 2012. Poltimore Community and Landscapes Project: Test Pit Report Trenches 4-6. University of Exeter. Digital.
SDV656Un-published: Gallant, L.. 1986. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Manuscript.
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. 179-80.
SDV672Monograph: Pugsley, S. 1994. Devon Gardens. Devon Gardens. Unknown. 6,92,94,125-9.

Associated Monuments

MDV125145Parent of: Carriageway to Poltimore House (Monument)
MDV115232Related to: Bargains Farm, Poltimore (Monument)
MDV125142Related to: Drainage System in Poltimore Park (Monument)
MDV125144Related to: Lodge at Poltimore Park (Monument)
MDV115233Related to: Pitt Farm, Poltimore (Monument)
MDV10156Related to: Poltimore House (Building)
MDV49340Related to: Poltimore House Gardens (Monument)
MDV49341Related to: Poltimore House, Estate Buildings (Monument)
MDV125141Related to: Road through Poltimore Park (Monument)
MDV49338Related to: South or New Lodge, Poltimore (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1674 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV1675 - Poltimore House: historical landscape survey
  • EDV6594 - Geophysical Earth Resistance Survey, Land at Poltimore House, Poltimore (Ref: 120702)
  • EDV8037 - Fieldwalking Survey in Poltimore Park
  • EDV8045 - Test Pit Excavation at Poltimore House
  • EDV8048 - Test Pit Excavation at Politmore House
  • EDV8059 - Test Pit Excavation at Poltimore House

Date Last Edited:Mar 13 2020 7:58AM