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HER Number:MDV20789
Name:39 High Street, Totnes


Listed with 41 High Street, one of two houses built circa 1624, under single ownership. Originally had separate kitchen block and small court, which was built over in the 19th century.


Grid Reference:SX 801 604
Map Sheet:SX86SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTotnes
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishTOTNES

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SW/117
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 427047

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOUSE (XVII to XIX - 1601 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Department of Environment, 1978, Totnes, 52 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV342722.

One of two separate houses with long history of single ownership. Number 39, circa 1624, built by John Wise, merchant. Number 39 is "deux corps de batiments" type and retains the (built over) small court and separate kitchen block. Three storeys. Both houses refronted earlier-mid 19th century to form a pair with 3 windows to first floor. Hipped Welsh slate roofs with red brick stacks. Masonry party walls; that on east side of Number 39 of Devonian limestone rubble with arched entrance over Butterwalk loggia. Slate-hung, timber-framed front to first and second floors. Eaves cornice. Three light sash windows; Ground floor loggia over pavement carved on Tuscan columns bearing entablature. Passage entrances with rectangular fanlights and panelled doors. Interesting interior features : former staircase bay with originally an open yard on west side of house and approached by side passage (similar to Number 70 Fore Street. The staircase bay was formerly timber-framed but the partitions were removed in the earlier-mid 19th century and the yard incorporated into the ground floor shop area. At first floor level the yard area still retains early 19th century sash windows with margin lights. Good decorated plaster ceilings with rib-work, rosettes, pendants moulded cornices and timber beam enrichments to ground floor (former staircase bay) and first floor rooms (former hall and fore-hall). The front first floor room with very fine plaster ceiling with monogram "I.D." and "W.D." of William Dowse. Site of former gallery with arched first floor doorway to kitchen block. Kitchen with open fireplaces and framed partitions. Grade II* for interior (M Laithwaite).

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, 1993, 39 High Street, Totnes, Devon, 4, 25,31-2 (Report - Survey). SDV342721.

One of the Totnes Butterwalk houses which make up perhaps the most outstanding group of large 16th and 17th century merchants' houses in the south-west. Numbers 39 and 41 were formerly a single property occupying an unusually wide burgage plot (12.8 metres) which went back as far as North Street. The main block is now two shops with the back block divided into cottages. Described as 'new house' in 1624, but there is sufficient structural and decorative evidence to propose that it was built in the 1560s. Plasterwork features the initials of Walter Dowse (Mayor in 1560) and his wife, Joan, indicating at that at least the lower two storeys of the main block and part of the rear block date to the 16th century. Tudor arched doorways have been uncovered in the back block and there is evidence for another on the second floor of the main block. Some alterations were made during the 17th, 18th and early 19th century, but it was in the late 19th aor early 20th century that the property was sub-divided, which radically affected the west side of the property, by infilling the old courtyard. The present layout of the house is largely the result of this operation. Plates 1-40.

Badcock, P., 1993, Dewhursts/Briggs Shoe Shop, High Street, Totnes, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV347191.

Visited 25th October 1993 by Peter Babclock and Graham Lawrence (Conservation Officer). Jetty supported by two columns, one limestone and one sandstone. Both are in need of strengthening.

Unknown, 1994, 39 High Street, Totnes, Devon. Brief Condition Report for Briggs Palm Shoes Ltd. (Report - non-specific). SDV347193.

Inspected 27th October 1994. An end-on, pitched-roof range of cellar and three floors, with passage and stair extension to the north alongside a courtyard roofed at first floor level. Masonry walls are of slate stone with some introduced brick. Beams and early framing are of oak with later softwood adaptations. Roofs are covered with a mixture of natural and asbestos slates, valleys are lead-covered. The south and north faces, stairhead and second floor section are slate-hung. One external face, to the wst into the alley is rendered. Old internal wall and ceiling finishes are of lime plaster and floor boards are pine. Clear corrugated sheeting covers a large rooflight and a window.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this building is its collection of early ornamental plasterwork ceilings. One is complete and two remain incomplete, but worth preserving. A 16th or 17th century oak mullioned window can be seen in a cupboard. It is in fair conditon. A number of urgent faults are identified, including structural movement, insect damage and flooded cellar.

Badcock, P., 1994, Dewhursts/Briggs Shoe Shop, High Street, Totnes, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV347192.

Visited 15th September 1994 by Peter Babcock and Graham Lawrence (Conservation Officer). The sandstone column is presumed to be part of the consignment of French sandstone used to refurbish the church at the turn of the century. The limestone column has been recently strengthened by packing and pointing and replacement of dislodged stones, but the the sandstone column appears now to be on the point of imminent collapse and there is now no alternative but complete replacement.

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, 1996, Assessment of Civic Centre Area, Totnes, 6 (Report - Assessment). SDV340328.

English Heritage, 2006, Buildings at Risk: The Register 2006, 70 (Report - non-specific). SDV336311.

Number 39 The High Street in Totnes was undergoing slow decay in 2006 with no solution agreed.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 106 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Fine 17th century plasterwork and interior threatened by poor condition of roof. Ground floor is a shop. Upper floors are unoccupied and in need of repair and new services. Photograph.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 98 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 103 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Poor condition. Owner has discussed proposals for repair and alteration with the Local Planning Authority and English Heritage. Priority C (slow decay; no solution agreed).

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

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336311Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2006. Buildings at Risk: The Register 2006. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound. 70.
SDV340328Report - Assessment: Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants. 1996. Assessment of Civic Centre Area, Totnes. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K477. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 106.
SDV342721Report - Survey: Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants. 1993. 39 High Street, Totnes, Devon. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K429. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4, 25,31-2.
SDV342722List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1978. Totnes. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 52.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 98.
SDV347191Report - non-specific: Badcock, P.. 1993. Dewhursts/Briggs Shoe Shop, High Street, Totnes, Devon. English Heritage Engineer's Report. A4 Stapled.
SDV347192Report - non-specific: Badcock, P.. 1994. Dewhursts/Briggs Shoe Shop, High Street, Totnes, Devon. English Heritage Engineer's Report. A4 Stapled.
SDV347193Report - non-specific: Unknown. 1994. 39 High Street, Totnes, Devon. Brief Condition Report for Briggs Palm Shoes Ltd.. Architecton Report. 579. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82929 ]
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 103.

Associated Monuments

MDV20791Related to: 41 High Street, Totnes (Building)
MDV20790Related to: Outbuilding to the rear of 39 High Street, Totnes (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 27 2014 3:04PM