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HER Number:MDV20681
Name:Hill, Christow


A exceptional medieval house at Hill, Christow with the original hall still unfloored at first floor level. The house appears to have originated as a small two-bay hall house in the later 14th/early 15th century which was extended in the late 15th/early 16th century, the resultant plan being the more typical three room and cross passage plan. The house underwent a major refurbishment in the 17th century during which the south end of the house was transformed into a high quality parlour with a master chamber above and the north range was rebuilt as the kitchen block.


Grid Reference:SX 835 842
Map Sheet:SX88SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChristow
Ecclesiastical ParishCHRISTOW

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX88SW26
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 447379
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX88SW/56
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 85596

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (Built, XIV to XVI - 1301 AD (Between) to 1540 AD (Between))

Full description

Child, P., ?1970s, Hill, Christow (Ground Photograph). SDV365767.

Photo of the farmhouse before restoration.

Ordnance Survey, 1963-1996, 1963-1996 National Grid OS Metric, (1963) (Cartographic). SDV350058.

(SX 83598425) Hill Farm (NAT).

Various, 1970 - 1979, Hill, Christow (Correspondence). SDV347645.

A file of correspondence and notes relating to the repair work carried out at Hill in the 1970s, including plans, workmen’s quotes, sketches and photocopies of three photographs though to be from this period. Other details: Stored with historic buildings reports.

Beacham, P., 1978, Devon's Traditional Buildings, 75 (Article in Monograph). SDV340405.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 109 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Jointed cruck recorded at Hill (citing M. Laithwaite).

Richardson, D., 1982, Devon's Heritage: Buildings and Landscape, 68-69 (Monograph). SDV337867.

Hicks, C. E., 1982, Proceedings of the 120th Annual Meeting, xxviii (Article in Serial). SDV345203.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Unknown). SDV288653.

Site visit 2nd June 1983. The house has face-pegged jointed crucks in the hall, and side pegged ones in the south wing. The former are now obscured from view. Details of restoration work undertaken on the house, and a photograph of one of the single rib plaster ceilings given by Richardson in Devon County Council (1982).

1983, Untitled Source (Photograph). SDV288655.

Slide of smoke blackened thatch at Hill Farm, Christow.

Department of Environment, 1988, Christow, 60-61 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV308409.

Hill farmhouse. L-shaped. The south wing is a possible late 15th century open hall of 3 bays with cruck trusses built of cob with hipped thatch roof. The west wing is a later range possibly 17th century also in cob with slate roof. Casement windows. Roof slopes down at rear to cover outshut. The south wing has smoke blackened rafters throughout and the west bay is still open to the roof. North slope appears to retain a smoke vent. The west bay retains smoke blackened thatch from the open fire. Early 17th century granite hall fire-place and chimney inserted in the middle bay. The altered parlour and bedroom have early 17th century ribbed plaster ceilings, ovolo moulded fire-places retaining traces of painted decoration and ovolo moulded window to parlour. The west wing retains a large fire-place with circular chamber, probably once a bread oven and a wooden partition of posts alternating with boards.

Cherry, B. & Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 261-2, illus pg 68 (Monograph). SDV361985.

Hill can stand as the archetypal farmhouse for the whole of Devon, so many of the traditions are represented in this remarkable but small-scale L-shaped structure. The Medieval house had a two-room-cross-passage plan with early cross-wing off the upper end and two outlets. The late-Medieval house is defined by a smoke-blackened roof carried on jointed cracks and end-crucks, but the core of an earlier Medieval structure survives beneath as the present hall with its own true crucks and smoke-blackened thatch. This room is one of the most remarkable in Devon, for although it houses a later axial stack, it was never floored and so often a clear impression of the character of the Medieval hall-house at farmhouse level.

Horton, D. + Thorp, J. R. L., 2005, Hill, Christow, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV350077.

The main range of the house is orientated north-south with the kitchen range projecting east at right angles from the north end to the lane. This lane separates the house from the main farmyard (now in separate ownership). To the south of the house is a shippon built alongside the road. The large rear garden was formerly an orchard. The house and farm buildings are of cob on stone rubble footing, the house is now rendered. The roof was originally thatch but this only survives on the northern pitch of the kitchen range. The rest is now covered with Welsh slate and the rear leanto with corrugated iron. The thatch on the farm buildings has also now been replaced with corrugated iron. All the chimneyshafts are of brick and the chimneystacks of the hall and kitchen are of granite and cob respectively.
The L-shaped plan of the farmhouse is an unconventional layout. The main block has a two room and cross passage plan. The hall is to the north with an axial chimneystack backing onto the passage. Remarkably the room is still open to the roof. To the south of the passage is the parlour with a 17th century oak-mullioned window in its east wall with the master chamber above both with fireplaces in a gable end stack. The kitchen block comprises a small unheated service room next to the hall and a larger kitchen to the east with a large fireplace in the gable end. A possible 16th century oak-framed window in the north wall of the kitchen range is probably reused. Apart from the hall the house is two storey with stairs up from the passage, the hall and the service room.
The house appears to have originated as a small two-bay hall house of which one bay and truss remain at the northern end of the hall. These probably date to the late 14th or first half of the 15th century. The truss is of cruck type, although most of it is now covered with plaster below ceiling level. The base coat of the original thatch still survives which appears to be predominently of rye. The whole of the roof structure including the thatch is smoke blackened indicating that the house was open to the roof and heated by an open hearth fire. The thatch, battens and ties are neatly laid as they were intended to be seen. The house was extended to the east and north in the late 15th or early 16th century. The cross passage was established across the open hall at this time. The resultant plan being the three room and cross passage plan typical of rural houses of this period. In the mid 16th century a chimneystack was inserted at the south end of the hall backing onto the cross passage with a large granite fireplace. The hall was probably ceiled at the same time. A gap between the stack and the west wall allowed a staircase up to the first floor. There is a 19th century bread oven on the western side of the fireplace. The house underwent a major refurbishment in the first half of the 17th century. The lower, south end of the house was transformed into a high quality parlour with an ornamental plaster ceiling with a master chamber above and the north range was rebuilt as the kitchen block. Adjacent to the fireplace in the south wall of the parlour is a recess with a stone-lined drain at its base which appears to be a domestic piscina. Minor changes occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. All the ground floor surfaces were altered in the 20th century and in the 1970s the hall stair was replaced as part of an extensive programme of repairs.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Hill former farmhouse. A medieval house of at least two phases, remodelled in the 17th centruy. Colourwashed rendered stone rubble and cob; thatched roof, gabled at left end, hipped at right end of main block, gabled at end of wing, the thatch replaced with slate to the front of the ridge both of the main block and wing; left end projecting stack and axial stack to main block, end stack to wing.
Plan: L plan : the main block, facing east, two rooms and a through passage, lower end to the left (south) with a front right (north) wing two rooms on plan at right angles to the hall. Complex evolution. The present plan form is largely that of the late mid medieval period (Laithwaite) : the hall (still unfloored) to the right, stack backing on to the passage; lower end parlour to the left with a fine heated first floor chamber above and a kitchen wing, to the front of the hall, partitioned into two. A stair rises from the passage against the front wall, giving access to the room over the parlour; stair against front wall of wing; third stair (a 20th century replacement) adjacent to the hall stack. Two medieval roofs exist over the hall: the lower roof over the hall earlier, the higher roof also sooted, indicating a rebuilding of the lower end in the medieval period (before the insertion of the hail stack). The circa late 16th century kitchen wing was predated by a narrower, earlier medieval wing. Probably in the 16th century the hall stack was inserted, backing on to the passage, although it has been suggested (Schofield) that this was preceded by a smoke hood and the granite ashlar back of the stack may have originated as a freestanding wall against which the open hearth fire was placed. In the circa late 16th century the lower end was remodelled as a high quality parlour with good plasterwork on the ground floor and a similarly decorated heated chamber above. The medieval front right wing was enlarged, raised and re-roofed, probably in the 16th century. Rear outshuts to the hall and parlour are later additions and now roofed with corrugated iron. 1970s repair has involved some refenestration, the removal of post 17th century partitioning in the kitchen wing and the reconstruction of the kitchen chimney shaft.
Exterior: two storeys except the hall, which is ceiled below the collars of the trusses. Asymmetrical two window east front, the kitchen wing projecting to the front at the right (north) end. Wide panelled door to the through passage to right of centre with a slate canopy carried on moulded timber brackets. 2- and 3-light 19th or 20th century timber casements with glazing bars except ground floor left which is a 17th century 3-light timber mullioned windows with ovolo- moulded mullions, leaded panes and internal iron stanchions. The inner return of the wing has a doorway in the centre giving access to the kitchen; two first floor 2-light timber casements with glazing bars and one ground floor window. The outer return of the wing has one small square ground floor window to the left (east) and a 3-light 17th century timber mullioned widow to the right with chamfered stopped mullions. The rear elevation of the main block has a tall 3-light timber casement with glazing bars to the left; the hall outshut has a small, probably 18th century, 1-light window in the return; the parlour outshut a 2-light window. The gable of the lower (parlour) end has one ground floor and one first floor 1970s mullioned window.
Interior: Outstanding, both for the survival of the medieval plan form and for carpentry, plasterwork and other features. The granite ashlar back of the hall stack is exposed in the passage with a hollow-chamfered plinth, the granite cornice associated with this feature shows above the ceiling of the passage. The lower end partition of the passage, which has probably been moved, is timber with plaster infill. Good 17th century plank and stud door with strap hinges to the stair leading off the passage. The hall, which has never been floored, is remarkable: plastered up to the collar level of the face-pegged jointed cruck truss, the feet of which extend to ground level. The purlins and part of the hip cruck are visible but plastered-over. Large open fireplace with a chamfered granite lintel and jambs, neither jamb tied into the masonry of the fireback, 19th century bread oven. A 19th century dado extends round the rear right corner of the hall with fixed bench for a table in front of the hall window. A heavy oak beam extending from the stack to the front wall of the hall may have been part of a timber smoke hood (Schofield). The lower end parlour has an open fireplace with ovolo-moulded granite jambs and an ovolo-moulded stopped timber lintel. The ceiling is divided into two sections by a plastered over crossbeam, plaster cornice, good decorated plaster ceiling on the fireplace side of the crossbeam with moulded ribs enriched with floral sprays. A recess adjacent to the fireplace contains a drain and appears to have been a domestic piscina. The kitchen is partitioned into two by an incomplete plank and muntin screen with doorway with a cranked lintel; chamfered, step-stopped crossbeam with exposed joists; large open fireplace with a chamfered timber lintel and, formerly, two bread ovens: the surviving oven is granite- lintel. The chamber over the parlour has a fireplace with ovolo-moulded granite jambs and ovolo-moulded timber lintel with painted marbling, possibly of 17th century date; decorated plaster ceiling with moulded ribs with floral sprays and a moulded plaster cornice. A closed truss divides this room from the room over the passage with a doorway with a door with a good 17th century lock. The room over the passage has wide oak floorboards, a keeping place on the rear wall and the granite cornice of the rear of the hall stack is exposed above the floorboards; blocked doorway in the closed truss. Two rooms over the kitchen wing, the room at the outer (east) end has a fireplace with plain timber lintel.
Roof: The lower of the two roofs over the hall is the earliest: probably 15th century with a face-pegged jointed cruck truss; apex LIE type (Laithwaite), complete with sooted rafters, battens and thatch. Between the present kitchen wing and this hall roof a sooted ridge and rafters with sooted thatch indicate the wing that predated the kitchen wing - this part of roof concludes in a ruinous closed truss with section of sooted wattle and daub with infill, separated by a void from the westernmost truss of the present kitchen wing which is wider and higher than its predecessor. The hall roof has been raised by a second sooted ridge fixed to the sawn off earlier ridge by a birdsmouth post: this ridge continues over the lower end with a closed side-pegged jointed cruck truss (E apex) over the lower end partition of the passage. This truss is sooted on both sides indicating two open hearths. Surviving rafters are heavily sooted and, although not accessible at time of survey, are known to extend the full length of the lower end. The kitchen wing has two collar rafter trusses with lap-dovetailed collars with straight, principal rafters the eastern truss closed to form the partition between the two rooms. The house was repaired in the 1970s by the SPAB Lethaby scholars under the direction of John Schofield.
A house of outstanding interest. Group value with adjacent barn to the south and threshing barn to east. Date listed: 9th October 1980.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV288653Unknown: Griffith, F. M.. 1983. Unknown.
SDV288655Photograph: 1983. Slide.
SDV308409List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Christow. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 60-61.
SDV337867Monograph: Richardson, D.. 1982. Devon's Heritage: Buildings and Landscape. Devon's Heritage: Buildings and Landscape. Paperback Volume. 68-69.
SDV340405Article in Monograph: Beacham, P.. 1978. Devon's Traditional Buildings. The Conservation of the Heritage. Unknown. 75.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 109.
SDV345203Article in Serial: Hicks, C. E.. 1982. Proceedings of the 120th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 114. A5 Hardback. xxviii.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82867 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347645Correspondence: Various. 1970 - 1979. Hill, Christow. Letter. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV350058Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1963-1996. 1963-1996 National Grid OS Metric. Digital Mapping. Digital. (1963).
SDV350077Report - Survey: Horton, D. + Thorp, J. R. L.. 2005. Hill, Christow, Devon. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K698. A4 Bound.
SDV361985Monograph: Cherry, B. & Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. 261-2, illus pg 68.
SDV365767Ground Photograph: Child, P.. ?1970s. Hill, Christow. Devon County Council Historic Buildings Photo.

Associated Monuments

MDV77373Part of: Hill farmstead, Christow (Monument)
MDV40381Related to: Barn south of farmhouse at Hill, Christow (Building)
MDV40382Related to: Threshing barn east of Hill farmhouse, Christow (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6027 - Historic Building Assessment at Hill, Christow

Date Last Edited:Nov 9 2023 12:17PM