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HER Number:MDV22100
Name:Higher Uppacott Farmhouse, Widecombe in the Moor


Higher Uppacott was originally built as a longhouse in the early 14th century. During the early 16th century, the house was remodelled with a new hall chimney inserted at the domestic end of the building. In the mid-17th century, substantial remodelling included the insertion of a floor over the hall, creating a hall chamber. A parlour wing was also added to the north side around this time, containing two heated chambers. Further alterations took place in 18th or early 19th century including the construction of another block forming the north-east side of the yard, while the shippon roof was largely replaced and porch chamber demolished. This block was converted to domestic use circa 1968. Constructed of granite rubble, the main wing is thatched and the former outbuilding slated.


Grid Reference:SX 701 728
Map Sheet:SX77SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishWidecombe in the Moor
Ecclesiastical ParishWIDECOMBE IN THE MOOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SW/96/2
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 441071

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (Built, XIV - 1301 AD to 1350 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, 1843, Widecombe in the Moor (Cartographic). SDV290272.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Shown as 'Lower Uppacott' on 19th century map.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Shown as 'Lower Uppacott' on early 20th century map.

Royal Air Force, 1946, CPE/UK 1890, 1387 (Aerial Photograph). SDV140289.

Department of Environment, 1952, Newton Abbot RD, 115 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV304573.

Beeson, M. M. R. + Masterman, M. C. H., 1979, An Archaeological Survey of Enclosed Land in Widecombe-In-The-Moor Parish, 823 (Report - Survey). SDV337078.

Site visited on 13th June 1979. Contains an unaltered shippon. About to be taken over by the National Trust (one portion) for housing its local officer. Thatched in good repair. Renovation is going on inside. Cottages have been made out of the buildings.

Wilkinson, F., 1979, Unknown, 1 (Article in Serial). SDV345202.

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

Department of Environment, 1986, Widecombe in the Moor, 105 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV289221.

'Higher Uppacott' longhouse, now divided into two houses. Late Medieval; wing on north-east probably added in the 17th century and former outbuilding possibly added in the 18th or early 19th century. Granite rubble. Many other features noted in new list.

Cox, J. + Thorp, J. R. L., 2002, Higher Uppacott, Poundsgate, Widecombe (Report - Survey). SDV345205.

The buildings at Higher Uppacott are ranged around three sides of a triangular yard to the west of the road. The main block of the house built in the late 14th or early 15th century forms the west side with the 17th century parlour wing projecting from the north side and another block forming the north-east side of the yard built in the late 18th or early 19th century. This block was converted to domestic use around 1968. The south side of the yard is occupied by a large shed which may have been the 19th century threshing barn altered in the 20th century. Seven phases of construction have been identified.
Phase 1: the original longhouse built in the late 14th or early 15th century comprised a cross passage and shippon which remains largely intact. One original roof truss still survives in the shippon. Contemporary masonry also survives in the east wall.
Phase 2: in the late 15th or early 16th century the roof was replaced at a slightly higher level and the domestic end of the longhouse was rebuilt or at least refurbished.
Phase 3: a first floor chamber was created over the inner rrom in the mid 16th century.
Phase 4: the hall fireplace and chimneystack were inserted into the open hall and a loft or upper room was created over the passage.
Phase 5: in the mid 17th century the hall was floored creating a second chamber in the main block and a ground floor parlour with a first floor chamber were built at right angles to the north end.
Phase 6: repairs were undertaken in the 18th and 19th century to the roofs and agricultural outshuts were added along the east side of the shippon. The farmhouse may have been split into two households during this period.
Phase 7: modernisation was undertaken in the 20th century involving laying concrete floors, repalcing joinery and rethatching.

Tyers, I., 2003, Tree Ring Analysis of Oak Timbers from Higher Uppacott, Widecombe on the Moor (Report - Scientific). SDV345200.

L-shaped farmhouse at 'Higher Uppacott' with main block running north-south and a 17th century parlour block set at right angles on the north end. Oak timbers were taken from the shippon in 2002 for examination and tree-ring analysis but did not correlate with chronologies from Britain or Northern Europe. The smoke-blackened thatch and timberwork suggest a 14th or 15th century date for southern part of building.

2004, Tree ring date lists 2004 (Article in Serial). SDV361593.

Reference to tree-ring analysis of oak timbers from Higher Uppacott, Widecombe on the Moor (citing I. Tyers, Council for Archaeology Report 82/2003. 10 pp).

English Heritage, 2010, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV154869.

Higher Uppacott and Uppacott in Widecombe in the Moor was Listed on 23rd August 1955. Longhouse, now divided into two houses. Late Medieval; wing on north-east probably added in the 17th century, and former outbuilding to south-west of that probably added in 18th or early 19th century. Granite rubble; south-east face of wing covered with roughcast. Main range is thatched, with half-hip at either end; former outbuilding is slated. In centre of ridge in main range is a granite ashlar chimneystack with stone weatherings (heating former hall); cap seems to be 20th century. On gable-end of wing is another granite ashlar stack with weatherings, this time with its original tapered cap three-room and through-passage plan, with shippon (no longer used for cattle) to right of passage; hall and inner room to left. Wing at upper end (now a separate house called Uppacot, along with the former outbuilding) probably a parlour or kitchen. The shippon is remarkable among standing longhouses in having no separate entrance. Two storeys, the shippon formerly lofted. House-part is three windows wide in ground storey (this side of house has no upper-storey windows). The middle window (lighting former hall) is of granite, containing two lights with flat-splay mullions; straight hood-mould above. The outer windows have plain granite lintels and contain 19th century wood casements with two or three panes per light. Old plank door to through-passage, with applied ribs; 20th century thatched porch on two wooden posts, which are probably re-used timbers from the house. In the shippon are two ventilation slits. The gable-wall to right has three more slits in the ground storey and one above; at the base of the wall is a drain outlet. The rear wall of the main range is concealed by a stone lean-to with a corrugated asbestos roof; most of it is still occupied by outhouses, but the right-hand end has been converted into living accommodation, rendered and re-windowed in the 20th century. A photograph of 1950 shows the lean-to with slated roof, forming an attractive feature of the building. Behind the lean-to is the rear doorway to the through-passage, having a chamfered, round-headed wood frame with shouldered durn jamb. The shippon has one ventilation slit this side, now blocked. The wing has small paned wood casements, some 19th century, some 20th century. The former outbuilding is heavily windowed with 20th century small-paned wood casements. The gable-wall to south-east retains its original character, with two ventilation slits in the ground storey and one above; to right of the latter is a blocked loading door with wooden lintel. The north-east side of the wing and outbuilding, which is clearly visible from the road, has no windows; there is a small two-light window in the adjacent gable-wall of the main range.
Interior: the shippon has a well-made central drain lined with large granite blocks; against each of the long walls is a feeding-trough defined by thin stones with holes on top for tethering-posts. The loft floor has been removed, but the plain, heavy cross-beams remain. A 19th century wood partition divides the shippon from the passage, this being faced with horizontal planks on the passage side. Close to the passage is a raised cruck-truss with the tops of the blades held apart by a yoke designed to carry a square-set ridge. There are no slots for purlins, but there are mortices for a collar. The truss is not obviously smoke-blackened, but a piece of blackened ridge-beam is poised rather precariously between it and the hall stack. The walling containing the west foot has been disturbed, but the east foot seems to be in its original slot, resting on a large padstone half-way up the wall. A truss of this type could well be 14th or early 15th century. On the house side of the passage the back of the hall stack (now whitened) is of granite ashlar blocks with a chamfered plinth and cornice. To the right of it, above the doorway into the hall, is what appears to be the head-beam of a plank-and-muntin partition. The hall fireplace has hollow-moulded granite jambs and a chamfered wood lintel with step-stops. Above the lintel are two pieces of shaped granite, clearly designed to fit under a relieving arch (although this, if it exists, is plastered over); this feature is blocked off by the upper-floor beams, and suggests that the stack may have been inserted while the hall was still open to the roof. There is no sign of an oven at the back of the fireplace. The upper-floor beams are chamfered, with one bar-stop visible; the joists are chamfered with step-stops. The main cross-beam runs into the centre of a blocked opening in the rear wall; this is set high up and clearly rises above the existing ceiling-level, having been the hall window while it was open to the roof. There are no old joists in the narrow space in front of the fireplace, and it is possible that a spit mechanism rose through the ceiling at this point. The two-light granite window in the front wall has a loop half-way and integral with the centre mullion; it may have been designed for a bar to close the shutters. Above the hall are two trusses with feet designed like primitive jointed crucks; the feet of the principal rafters into into the wall-tops, but pegged and tenoned to them, against the wall-faces, are short struts, themselves sinking into the walls. The trusses have threaded purlins and ridge, but whereas the truss over the centre of the hall has a tenoned collar, that over the division between hall and inner room has a collar with notched and shaped ends sunk into halvings in the faces of the principal rafters. Both trusses, with their purlins, ridge and thatching-spars, and the underside of the thatch, are smoke blackened and it is clear that the roof over the inner room (though partly rebuilt) was originally the same. It is clearly a Medieval roof, though quite different from that of the shippon; the halved collar usually, a Post-Medieval feature, suggests a possible early 16th century date. Nailed to this truss over the division between hall and inner room, and certainly a later addition (perhaps of circa 1600), is a close studded partition; the studs are grooved down the sides, and still contain the original horizontal laths designed to carry the mud infill. At the east end is a square-headed door-frame with scratch mouldings. The ground-storey wall below is of stone, but it is not clear how this relates to the timber-framing. The wing has been considerably altered, but in the ground storey is a large gable-fireplace with monolithic granite jambs and a plain wood lintel; there is no oven in the back. On the floor above there is a smaller fireplace with chamfered granite jambs and chamfered wood lintel, the latter with a scroll-stop at the right-hand end. The roof-trusses are plain; though darkened, they are probably not smoke-blackened.
The main range (Higher Uppacott) is owned by the Dartmoor National Park. Other details: LBS Number 441071.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

'Higher' Uppacot' shown on modern mapping.

Parker, R. + Steinmetzer, M., 2016, Historic building recording and monitoring and recording at Higher Uppacott, Poundsgate, Devon, 18-21 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV362878.

The five historic phases identified by Keystone may now be revised in the light of the previous observations as follows:
Phase 1. An early 14th-century rectangular longhouse consisting of a shippon to south and house to north entered through a shared cross passage. The house consisted of a hall and inner room, which were separated from the cross passage and shippon only by low screens. Heating was by an open fire in the centre of the hall, the smoke from which blackened the roof throughout the length of the building. A second hearth may have existed in the inner room, since this room remained heated by an open hearth until a late date in the history of the house. One truss from the original roof survives, supported by raised crucks and with a triangular yoke at the apex supporting a square-set ridge of which a short length remains. One side purlin survives. The rest of the roof has been replaced. The dating of this phase is based upon stylistic comparison with other roofs of similar form dated by dendrochronology to the early C14th.
Phase 2. An early 16th-century remodelling of the house in which the domestic end of the building was remodelled by the insertion of a new hall chimney with a timber lintel surmounted by a relieving arch. The chimney may have been built through the original roof structure of the house, which remained un-storeyed at this period. The fireplace was associated with a stone wall separating the domestic and agricultural parts of the building, trapping the original purlins of the 14th century roof and incorporating a fragment of an earlier timber screen dividing the hall from the cross passage. The chimney also supported a platform over the cross passage, providing either a dormitory for farm hands or a place for storage. The east wall of the hall was rebuilt at this time, incorporating a tall window, which survives in the east wall though now blocked, and adjacent to this a new main entrance doorway to allow direct access from the farmyard to the hall, separate from the access to the shippon. The domestic part of the house remained of a single storey only. It is likely that the inner room remained heated by an open hearth and that it functioned as a kitchen whereas the hall was the principal reception room.
Phase 3. In this phase, probably in the mid-17th century, the house was substantially remodelled by the insertion of a floor over the hall to create a hall chamber. The tall windows of the hall had to be blocked at this time to provide bearing for the new first-floor beams, and the granite dressings of one of these windows may have been reused to create a smaller two-light window in the west wall. The insertion of a new upper storey necessitated the replacement of the roof, which was rebuilt at a higher level, supported by A-frame trusses with short wall posts and notch-lap-jointed collars. A new stone wall was built between the hall and the inner room to support the ends of the joists of the hall ceiling, which jettied out into the inner room to support a close studded partition rising into the roof structure. The partition had a gap at the apex which allowed heat and smoke to percolate into the new chamber from the open hearth in the inner room, which blackened the partition and roof timbers on both sides. The new hall chamber was otherwise unheated. The hall chamber appears to have been reached by a staircase or gallery rising within the open volume of the inner room, and by a small lobby screened off from the hall chamber by a further partition. It is possible that this lobby also gave access to a porch chamber or parvis within a projecting structure over the main entrance to the house. Dating evidence for this phase is provided by the form of the trusses, which incorporate unusual carpentry details characteristic of the 17th century and also by the scratch mouldings of the doorway to the former staircase.
Phase 4. In a further 17th-century alteration a new, two-storey parlour wing was added extending eastwards from the north end of the house. This wing contained two heated chambers. Its upper storey may have been accessed by a new branch from the stair gallery or, perhaps, by a doorway in its south wall opening into the putative porch chamber and served by the staircase in the inner room via an internal porch within the hall chamber. The roof of the parlour range is also smoke blackened, presumably because it, too, had a partition open at the apex towards the inner room, to allow smoke to percolate through. The parlour wing is dated to the mid-17th century on the basis of the carpentry details of its roof and the details of its fireplaces.
Later works. In the 18th or 19th centuries the majority of the roof of the shippon was removed and replaced, leaving one bay only of the original 14th-century roof intact. The first-floor chambers were ceiled at or near collar level and the northern part of the roof was also replaced. At some point, perhaps in the late 18th or early 19th century, the putative porch chamber was demolished and a number of lean-to structures were built against the east wall of the house. The house may have been ‘reversed’ at this time, so that the western entrance to the cross passage, away from the farmyard, became its principal entrance. Alternatively, this alteration may have been made in the later 19th century, when the house was divided into two tenements. At this period the inner room may finally have been ceiled, creating the inner room chamber, though evidence for any historic floor remains elusive. Finally, the cross passage was enclosed from the shippon by a late 19th- or early 20th-century screen. In the late 20th and 21st centuries the house was acquired in two phases by Devon County Council, and remains subdivided into two parts, one of which is still occupied as a private dwelling.
The longhouse at Higher Uppacott is justly famous for its unconverted shippon, and perhaps also for the early date of the surviving truss over the shippon, which may date from the early 14th century. These features give the impression of a house that was rarely altered throughout its history and which, because it was perhaps slow to respond to changes in fashion and advances in domestic comfort, has preserved to an unusual extent the form of a typical Dartmoor longhouse of the Middle Ages. The Keystone report of 2004 interpreted the house as having some features rather in advance of the times, including lime plaster partitions and roof trusses with notched lap joints; these were interpreted as dating from the 16th century, an early date for such features. The recent works, based on observations of fabric which were not available to Keystone, have revealed both a simpler history of development, summarised above, but also a more unexpected story, in which the high-status parts of the house, the hall and hall chamber were remodelled before the conversion of the inner room, which, most unusually, remained open to the roof and heated by an open fire during the greater part of the history of the house.
The conversion of the hall in to two storeys prior to the conversion of the inner room is unusual in Devon farmhouses, yet it is the authors’ contention that this conclusion is inescapable given the clear relationship of the hall jetty with the inner room and the smoke blackening of the roof of the parlour wing. The evidence for the continued use of the inner room as an open volume, heated by an open hearth, suggest that it, rather than the hall, remained in use for cooking and dirty, domestic activities, whereas the hall, from the 16th century at least, became a prestigious reception and dining room. Although evidence for an inner room remaining open after the hall had been ceiled is rare, un-storeyed kitchens rising into an open roof are recognised as a common feature of medieval gentry houses. Given the tendency of socially-aspiring merchants and farmers to mimic the customs and manners of the gentry, it is perhaps not improbable to imagine a Dartmoor farmer improving his hall by the addition of a fireplace and chamber over, while the less public areas of the house, the shippon and the service room, remained in their medieval form, open to the roof and blackened by soot from open hearths. Unstoreyed kitchens associated with floored halls and chambers are known to the author from at least two other vernacular houses in Devon: Pixie Cottage at Alphington and, possibly, Powlesland Farm at South Tawton (See EA Project 6668, RWP Report dated 7th Oct 2008, and RWP Report 2016-01), It is conceivable that there are many more vernacular houses in Devon in which the traditional interpretation of the flooring over of the service room preceding that of the hall should perhaps be reviewed.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV140289Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. CPE/UK 1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1387.
SDV154869List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2010. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV289221List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1986. Widecombe in the Moor. Historic Houses Register. A4 Single Sheet. 105.
SDV290272Cartographic: Unknown. 1843. Widecombe in the Moor. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV304573List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1952. Newton Abbot RD. Historic Houses Register. A4 Single Sheet. 115.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337078Report - Survey: Beeson, M. M. R. + Masterman, M. C. H.. 1979. An Archaeological Survey of Enclosed Land in Widecombe-In-The-Moor Parish. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. Vols I - V. A4 Comb Bound. 823.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #83298 ]
SDV345200Report - Scientific: Tyers, I.. 2003. Tree Ring Analysis of Oak Timbers from Higher Uppacott, Widecombe on the Moor. English Heritage Centre for Archaeology Report. 82/2003. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV345202Article in Serial: Wilkinson, F.. 1979. Unknown. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 14. Paperback Volume. 1.
SDV345203Article in Serial: Hicks, C. E.. 1982. Proceedings of the 120th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 114. A5 Hardback. xxviii.
SDV345205Report - Survey: Cox, J. + Thorp, J. R. L.. 2002. Higher Uppacott, Poundsgate, Widecombe. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K655. A4 Spiral Bound.
SDV361593Article in Serial: 2004. Tree ring date lists 2004. Vernacular Architecture. 35. Unknown.
SDV362878Report - Watching Brief: Parker, R. + Steinmetzer, M.. 2016. Historic building recording and monitoring and recording at Higher Uppacott, Poundsgate, Devon. Oakford Archaeology. 16-02. Digital. 18-21.

Associated Monuments

MDV113178Part of: Higher Uppacott Farmstead, Widecombe in the Moor (Monument)
MDV22098Part of: Uppacott Medieval Settlement, Widecombe in the Moor (Monument)
MDV22099Related to: Lower Uppacott Farmhouse, Widecombe in the Moor (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4895 - Building Survey at Higher Uppacott
  • EDV4897 - Tree Ring Analysis from Higher Uppacott
  • EDV8065 - Historic building recording and monitoring and recording at Higher Uppacott (Ref: 16-02)

Date Last Edited:Mar 1 2019 2:34PM