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HER Number:MDV32492
Name:Watcombe Park and Brunel Manor, Teignmouth Road, Watcombe, Torquay


Watcombe or Brunel Park has mid-19th century parkland, gardens and shelter belts, laid out by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 27 hectares remain as gardens, park, woodland and protected coastal scenery. Watcombe was farmland until 1847, when the land was developed by Brunel. Special features include a water gardens, and extensive woodland.


Grid Reference:SX 917 677
Map Sheet:SX96NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishTorbay
Ecclesiastical ParishST.MARYCHURCH
Ecclesiastical ParishSTOKEINTEIGNHEAD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX96NW/61/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)
  • Torbay HER: MTO32492

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GARDEN (XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, 1882, Watcombe Park, 75-76 (Article in Serial). SDV363189.

The seat of Colonel Wright. At the entrance to the park there are massive gates set in ornamental stone columns, which are of the most substantial and expensive character.
The conservatory is in two spans and is entered from the south and east terraces. It is a large costly building.
The first terrace has a full sweep projecting over a steep slope which descends rapidly to the lower pleasure-grounds. This sweep is included in the terrace, and is half-moon shape, and surrounded by balustrading about 2.5 feet high.
Present in the grounds is a round pond, with an island in the centre.
About midway through the grounds there is a path known as the "Horse-shoe Steps," because a group of beds has been cut out there in the form of a horseshoe.
At the eastern extremity of these grounds, near to the park, is what is called Brunel's Rockery.
The glass houses are nearly new. The first range of three houses consists of two vineries and a Melon house. The second house is an intermediate one, filled chiefly with Azaleas and other miscellaneous plants. The long fernery is a low span-roofed house, with a path up the centre.
The range of forcing-houses is in three divisions.
The fruit and kitchen gardens are about three acres in extent.
This fine establishment is under the charge of Mr. Sandford, formerly gardener to the Earl of Bective at Underley.

Unknown, 1887, Watcombe Park, 463-464 (Article in Serial). SDV363188.

Now in the possession of Colonel Wright, Watcombe Park is situated a few miles from Torquay, and is reached by the road leading through St. Mary Church.
A moderately wide terrace-like stretch of lawn fronts the house. On the western side of the house, considerably below the level of the upper terrace, there is a lawn-tennis ground.
The descent from the upper to the lower terrace is by a flight of handsome stone steps. Passing from this the valley is entered, which spreads out right and left, to form a wide stretch of lawn, with a gradual descent extending far away till it reaches the open meadows further southward.
Attached to the mansion on the eastern side is a large conservatory. There are several houses devoted to the cultivation of stove and greenhouse plants ; the first of these is a span-roofed stove filled with a miscellaneous collection of plants. A span-roofed greenhouse is filled with quantities of soft-wooded plants. A range of three lean-to houses is used for growing-on small decorative plants and winter-blooming stock. A long span-roofed fernery contains a good assortment of Ferns, some grown in pots and others planted out. The kitchen garden altogether occupies about 3.3 acres, part of which is enclosed by substantial walls.
See full article for full details (including plant species).

Elliot, B., 1986, Victorian Gardens, 94 (Monograph). SDV362629.

Historic England, 2019, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV362730.

Watcombe Park and Brunel Manor
Grade: II
List Entry Number: 1000141
Date first listed: 12th August 1987
Mid C19 parkland, arboretum and gardens laid out by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his head gardener Alexander Forsyth with advice from William Andrews Nesfield, many of the principal features surviving substantially unaltered from 1859.
The park covers 27 hectares, with 6 hectares of formal and informal gardens which are associated with the house and a further 21 hectares of woodland garden, arboretum, pinetum and protected coastal land. The formal gardens comprising terraces and lawns lie principally to the south and west of the house. The upper areas of parkland were planted as an arboretum by Alexander Forsyth, for Brunel. Many varieties of trees, of which fine mature specimens survive, including Wellingtonia, Cedar of Lebanon, holm oak, copper beech, monkey puzzle, Monterey cypress and Bhutan Pine. To the east the Valley of the Rocks, with Giant Rock forms a rugged natural area, with panoramic marine views.
The principal building of the park is Brunel Manor (Grade II) which is a substantial two-storey gothic house.
The plantations and walks to the east of the Teignmouth road were separated from the main pleasure grounds with the loss of Brunel's timber bridge c 1914.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV362629Monograph: Elliot, B.. 1986. Victorian Gardens. . 94.
SDV362730National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2019. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV363188Article in Serial: Unknown. 1887. Watcombe Park. The Gardeners' Chronicle. II Third Series. Digital. 463-464.
SDV363189Article in Serial: Unknown. 1882. Watcombe Park. The Gardeners' Chronicle. XVIII. Digital. 75-76.

Associated Monuments

MDV124034Parent of: Site of Brunel's Great Hill Drive, Watcombe Park, Watcombe (Monument)
MDV85836Related to: BRUNEL MANOR (Building)
MDV124014Related to: Garden Walls, Steps and Balustrades, Brunel Manor, Teignmouth Road, Torquay (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 22 2019 10:51AM