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HER Number:MDV22117
Name:Lower West Coombe Farmhouse, North Bovey


Lower West Coombe farmhouse a longhouse built in the early 16th century with later alterations. Listed on the 19th century Tithe Map Apportionment as 'Higher Westcombe.' Alternate name: Lower Westcombe


Grid Reference:SX 709 824
Map Sheet:SX78SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishNorth Bovey
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTH BOVEY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Buildings Record: 32952
  • National Monuments Record: SX78SW75
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 875052
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78SW/35
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 85185

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CROSS PASSAGE HOUSE (Built, XV to XVI - 1500 AD to 1600 AD (Between))
  • FARMHOUSE (Built, XV to XVI - 1500 AD to 1600 AD (Between))
  • LONGHOUSE (Built, XV to XVI - 1500 AD to 1600 AD (Between))
  • OPEN HALL HOUSE (Built, XV to XVI - 1500 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

South West Heritage Trust, 1838-1848, Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments (Cartographic). SDV359954.

Building shown on 19th century Tithe Map. The Apportionment for 'Higher Westcombe' lists Field Number 1182 as 'House garden and Yard', owned and occupied by William French.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1932, The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two, 471 (Monograph). SDV337894.

West Coombe was mentioned as 'Wester Comb' in 1562.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 113 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Lower Westcoombe. Short curved feet cruck recorded. Location of house uncertain.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 600 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Lower West Coombe Farmhouse. Early 16th century plan of shippon, through-passage, hall and inner room, which remains largely unaltered. Listed Grade II*. A barn, 5m to the North East, and outbuilding 8m to the East, and a 17th century shippon directly North West of the farm are all Listed Grade II. An ash-house [SX 78 SW 1] lies 40m North East of the farm.

White, P., 2013, Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads, Lower West Coombe (Un-published). SDV352501.

Lower West Coombe a longhouse.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Building shown on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England, 1097138 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

Lower West Coombe Farmhouse. A longhouse built in the early 16th century with 17th and 18th century alterations. The building is constructed partly of granite ashlar and partly of granite rubble. Most of the granite ashlar work survives on the shippon extending over approximately half the gable end and most of the north-west front. There is also some ashlar work on the front of the inner room although the house part has been rendered. Slate roof to house, corrugated iron to shippon, gable ended. Three chimney stacks, left-hand axial stack is small, granite rubble stack with shallow granite capping. Middle axial hall stack is a larger granite rubble stack with dripmoulds and tapering granite capping stones. The right-hand gable end stack is stone at the base with a dripmould, then a brick shaft. Originally basic longhouse plan of shippon through passage, hall and inner room. The original gable end arched doorway to the shippon is an unusual feature in a longhouse whose purpose is unclear; possibly it served to muck out the shippon - facilitated by its height above the ground level. The inner room was originally unheated with a chamber above jettied into the open hall, with a closed truss at the 1st floor partition. The hall originally had a central hearth from which the smoke drifted up into the roof and the fact that the shippon also has a smoke-blackened truss suggests that the partition between house and shippon either was not full height or was not solid. The cross passage also was presumably divided from the hall by a low partition. Probably in the early 17th century the hall was at least partially floored over. This stage of development is confused by the construction of the hall ceiling which has a richly moulded cross beam with joists to the higher side of it which are similarly moulded, whereas those to the lower side are more widely spaced and simply moulded. One explanation for this might be that the hall was ceiled in two stages forming a further internal jetty in it. There is, however, no evidence for this either in the form of a 1st floor partition or in the roof construction. The other alternative might be that the difference in joists represents the differing status of lower and upper end of the hall with a higher status 'dais' end. The stack and hall fireplace are contemporary with the ceiling in the hall. Probably at a later stage in 17th century the front and rear walls at the centre of the building were rebuilt thinner necessitating the use of corbels to carry the hall ceiling. Probably in the 18th century one bay of the shippon adjoining the house was converted to domestic use forming a parlour on the ground floor and bedroom above with a solid wall inserted to divide them from the shippon. A chimneystack was incorporated into this wall with fireplace in the parlour. Probably in the 19th century an outshot was added at the rear of the hall as a scullery/wash-house. Two storeys. Asymmetrical 2-window front to house with shippon at left-hand, lower end in the same line, 2- and 3-light late 19th/early 20th century casements with glazing bars. Small single light and pane window to front of inner room at right. Almost central doorway to passage with late 19th/early 20th century plank door above which is 20th century gabled porch roof supported on wooden posts. Shippon has doorway to ground floor integral with the ashlar stonework. At the shippon gable end is a round-headed granite arched doorway, chamfered with pyramid stops, integral with the ashlar stonework. At the rear the shippon has a ground floor doorway to the left opposing the one at the front. To its left the house has an outshut behind the hall and passage which is of granite rubble with corrugated iron roof. To the higher gable end is a further cow shed. Good interior which contains a number of high quality early features and five original roof trusses. Over the house the principal rafters have triangular strengthening blocks beneath each apex, the open trusses all have curved feet. The closed truss framing the partition to the inner room chamber is smoke-blackened on the hall side. This smoke-blackening extends as far as the shippon central truss. There are only vestigial traces of the 2nd and 4th trusses which have been cut off by the hall and lower end stacks. The third truss over the lower end of the passage survives virtually intact. It has threaded purlins and has a slightly cambered collar morticed into the principal rafters. The ridge has been removed but was diagonally set, resting in a V-notch at the apex of the trusses. The roof truss surviving in the shippon has threaded purlins but no strengthening block and the morticed collar has been removed. On the ground floor the shippon has two heavy cross beams with worn chamfers. At the upper end of the hall is an internal jetty consisting of curved and chamfered joists projecting into the hall carrying a cross beam. The hall ceiling is of a particularly good quality for a moorland farmhouse and consists of one main cross beam with ovolo and fillet mould square stopped, with to its higher side ovolo moulded joists with hollow step and notch stops. To the lower side of the beam the joists are chamfered with the same stops, with trimmer joists in front of the fireplace which might possibly represent some sort of heat hatch to the room above. The hall fireplace has a monolithic granite jamb to the right and the left- hand jamb is re-built, re-using dressed stone which consists of granite blocks with a roll moulding on top and the lintel set back from the front; the whole projects further forward than the right-hand jamb. The lintel is partly concealed and charred but a mortice in its soffit suggests that it also is re-used. The partition between hall and inner room is a solid wall, the doorway has a heavy square-headed wooden frame with chamfered jambs whose run-out stops come before they reach the lintel which is also chamfered with masons mitres and to the left this chamfer extends beyond the jamb. This suggests that the timbers have been re-used possibly from a wooden screen.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 600.
SDV337894Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1932. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. IX. A5 Hardback. 471.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 113.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Lower West Coombe.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #83311 ]
SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1097138.
SDV359954Cartographic: South West Heritage Trust. 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV77039Part of: Higher West Coombe, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV22113Part of: SETTLEMENT in the Parish of North Bovey (Monument)
MDV8758Related to: Ash House at West Coombe, North Bovey (Monument)
MDV19186Related to: Barn east of Lower West Coombe Farmhouse, North Bovey (Building)
MDV22116Related to: Higher West Coombe Farmhouse, North Bovey (Building)
MDV35468Related to: Outbuilding east of Lower West Coombe Farmhouse, North Bovey (Building)
MDV35469Related to: Shippon at West Coombe Farm, North Bovey (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 18 2021 12:21PM