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HER Number:MDV22134
Name:Northwood Farmhouse, Christow


Northwood Medieval farmhouse shown on 19th century maps and in ruins in the late 20th century. Excavated in 1993 following survey work in 1989 and was later rebuilt.


Grid Reference:SX 829 861
Map Sheet:SX88NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChristow
Ecclesiastical ParishCHRISTOW

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX88NW/64

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (Constructed, XVI to Late 20th Century - 1501 AD to 1995 AD? (Between))

Full description

Unknown, W1258M, GL/61-70 (Aerial Photograph). SDV292408.

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

Rectangular building shown on 19th century Tithe Map at 'North Wood'.

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

Northwood farmhouse shown on 19th century map as a rectangular building on the east side of the yard.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 108 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Northwood Farm. True cruck recorded (Alcock citing P. Child, M. Laithwaite). This building is reported to be in poor structural state and may be demolished following the sale of the property, which is currently on offer.

Laithwaite, M., 1984, Oral report on Northwood Farmhouse (Personal Comment). SDV306459.

Laithwaite, M., 1989, Northwood Farmhouse (Un-published). SDV292406.

Ruined Medieval farmhouse inhabited as late as 1953-54. Part of the walls, one chimney and the whole roof have collapsed. Aligned north-south and terraced into hillside on south. Three-room-cross-passage with upper end room being a full sized parlour with late 16th or early 17th century fireplace. Surviving outer walls are of irregular slatestone rubble bonded with lime mortar, incorporating fragments of red brick. These are probably 19th century rebuildings. South gable wall is of rough cast cob on stone rubble plinth circa 0.6 metres high. It is probable that the whole house was originally of this construction. Seems latterly to have been covered with rouchcast. Much Medieval and 16th century interior detail survives. Medieval stud and panel cross passage partition is complete; one iron hook hinge, one wooden door latch catch. Evidence of internal jetty and upper storey wattle-and-daub partition, now collapsed. Lower end of Medieval roof was probably half hipped. Doorway blocked and stair removed when 19th century window inserted in west wall of lower room. A pair of crucks remain on upper side of cross passage (one has collapsed since 1979). Earthfast, circa 3.2 metres high, apparently sawn, designed for solid walling. Their position against the hall chimney implies the hall was originally heated by an open, probably central, hearth. Chimney is of a type often inserted, probably early or mid 16th century, into halls that were intended to remain single storied. Fireplace mostly destroyed. On east side it has a circular oven projection which, in its present form, is probably 19th century.
The parlour may be a 16th century addition to a two room Medieval house. The cob gable wall consists mainly of a very large 16th - 17th century fireplace with cob chimney. The fireplace lintel has moulding conventionally dated to the 17th, although a 1564 example is known. On the e side of the chimney is a curved recess for a staircase, modelled out of the cob. Probably 16th century.

Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/RF, 10-15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV321063.

Brown, S. + Laithwaite, M., 1993, Northwood Farm, Christow: an abandoned farmstead on the eastern fringe of Dartmoor. (Article in Serial). SDV292407.

Bought in 1984 with intention of rebuilding. Trial trenching carried out in 1990, full excavation in 1993. Farm mentioned in rentals and surveys of 1562-1616. No further record until 1781 land tax. Thereafter, references sparse, until notice of sale in 1873. Recorded in 1906-23 Kelly's Directory, but not mentioned in 1941-2 Ministry of Agriculture survey of farms of more than 5 acres.
Farmhouse aligned north-south, with upper south gable end terraced into hillside. Farmyard adjoins to the west. Three room and cross passage plan, with hall fireplace backing onto passage. The room at the upper end was unusually deep (3.7 metres), only a little smaller than the hall. The lower room, north of the cross passage, was only 2.3 metres deep - far smaller than the usual longhouse shippons. The surviving exterior walls were of rubble and cob. Excavation showed the majority of these to date from 18th, 19th and 20th century rebuilding. Nearly all surviving internal features were, by contrast, Medieval or early Post-medieval. In lower-end room and cross passage the oak stud-and-panel screens, upper floor joisting, roof timbers and a hip-cruck lay as they had collapsed. The cruck truss remained standing on the upper side of the passage, probably because the early Post-medieval fireplace had been built around its foot. None of the timbers were suitable for dendrochronology. Examination by Sheffield dendro lab in 1992 showed that they were all fast-grown or had too few rings. The cruck truss was recorded under difficult conditions in 1979; it had collapsed by 1981. It was plain, however, that both feet rose directly from the ground. No evidence of spurs, so it must have been designed for a solid-walled building, probably of cob. Cruck blades were of oak, circa 5.2 metres high. They were roughly symmetrical, and appeared to have been sawn, although the soffits had been shaped with an adze or axe. The upper part of the e blade was in two parts with a scarfed joint just below the collar. The joint had split apart, but it was not possible to get close enough to record its details. A straight collar was fitted to the blades, which had slots for one row of through-purlins on each side. At the apex was a triangular strengthening-place, tenoned to the blades. None of the timbers retained traces of smoke-blackening. The truss cannot be closely dated, but its setting was originally Medieval; it stood in an open hall and pre-dated the hall fireplace. Apart from a purlin, the only roof timber to survive was the hip-cruck which lay where it had fallen close to the collapsed north gable wall. The form of the roof over the upper end room could not be deduced. However, excavation suggests that the south wall of the hall was originally a solid, external, gable-end wall, and the upper-end room was an early Post-medieval addition. The cruck truss would then have stood in the middle of the Medieval house, with just another hip-cruck at the south end. Screen on lower side of passage was almost complete. Off-centre to the east was a shoulder-headed doorway of Medieval type. This was the only feature of the screen to be chamfered. On the lower-room side was an iron hook which had served as a hinge, and a wooden catch for the door latch. Slots cut into the head of the screen carried joists forming an internal jetty. There was evidence to suggest that the upper-floor structure was a later Medieval addition placed on top of an existing screen. A stair-door was inserted in the screen at this time. No sign of the stair remained, and the doorway had been blocked. Only the east jamb of the original hall fireplace survived. The west side was rebuilt in the 18th, 19th or 20th century, when a bread oven was inserted or rebuilt. No upper floor timbers survived in the area of the hall, which may never have been floored over. The upper-end room is probably a late 16th century addition, with cob wall on stone footings. It was certainly floored over by the 18th century, since a stair of this date was built into the south-east corner.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV292406Un-published: Laithwaite, M.. 1989. Northwood Farmhouse. Report to Dartmoor National Park. Digital.
SDV292407Article in Serial: Brown, S. + Laithwaite, M.. 1993. Northwood Farm, Christow: an abandoned farmstead on the eastern fringe of Dartmoor.. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 51. Paperback Volume.
SDV292408Aerial Photograph: Unknown. W1258M. Devon Record Office Collection. GL/61-70.
SDV306459Personal Comment: Laithwaite, M.. 1984. Oral report on Northwood Farmhouse. Not Applicable.
SDV321063Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/RF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10-15.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #83319 ]
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 108.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV108219Part of: Northwood Farmstead, Christow (Monument)
MDV43209Related to: Barn at Northwood Farmstead, Christow (Building)
MDV55170Related to: Barn at Northwood Farmstead, Christow (Building)
MDV55171Related to: Barn at Northwood Farmstead, Christow (Building)
MDV55172Related to: Pigsty at Northwood Farmstead, Christow (Building)
MDV55169Related to: Well at Northwood Farm, Christow (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8619 - Trial trenching at Northwood Farm, Christow
  • EDV8618 - Survey of Northwood Farmhouse, Christow
  • EDV8620 - Excavation at Northwood Farm

Date Last Edited:Mar 1 2021 12:56PM