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HER Number:MDV33259
Name:Longhouse at Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh


Exceptionally attractive and significant Dartmoor longhouse at Great Ensworthy. Dates to at least the late 15th century/early 16th century with major later improvements. Originally had an open hall plan divided by low partitions and heated by an open fire. The shippon was converted into a parlour in the 17th century and the hall was converted into a kitchen at the same time. House is now two storeys throughout with outshots at the rear and a 1960s extension at the lower end.


Grid Reference:SX 660 894
Map Sheet:SX68NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishGidleigh
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishGIDLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NE/208
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 94700

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (XV to XXI - 1450 AD to 2011 AD (Between))

Full description

1840, Tithe Map (Cartographic). SDV339770.

Longhouse depicted on the Tithe Map of approximately 1840 with one or two small extensions on the northern side which are not visible today.

Jones, B., 1996, Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh, 1 (Report - Assessment). SDV347677.

Great Ensworthy longhouse dates to the end of the 15th century and is five bays long. The roof is smoke-blackened throughout. The house was built in two phases; the earliest phase is low, eastern end which is three bays long and forms the shippon. The two-bay hall is a later addition at the western end, probably dating to the early 16th century. In the late 16th or early 17th century a granite chimney stack was added and the hall and cross passage were ceiled in. In the mid-late 17th century the shippon was also ceiled in and a further chimney stack created against the east-end wall, blocking the original livestock entrance. This is likely to represent the end of the combined human-animal occupation of the house, when the shippon was converted into a parlour.
During the late 17th or early 18th century, two granite outshuts (extensions) were built against the north and east walls. These were altered extensively in the mid-late 20th century to form a two-storied wing.

Thorp, J. R. L., 2000, Bakehouse at Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh, 2 (Report - Assessment). SDV347690.

Keystone suggest that the longhouse is the product of a single phase of building, maybe incorporating part of an older structure in the back wall, rather than Jones’ theory of at least two early phases of construction (Jones, 1996).

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Farmhouse, former Dartmoor longhouse. Late 15th-early 16th century with major later 16th and 17th century improvements; modernised circa 1960 with small extension of that date. Large coursed blocks of granite ashlar, rear outshots and 20th century extension of granite stone-rubble; granite stacks, one with its original granite ashlar chimneyshaft, the other replaced with brick; thatch roof, corrugated iron to extension.
Plan and development: three-room-and-through-passage plan house facing south-east and built down the hill slope. The inner room was at the uphill left (south-western) end. It was very small and unheated (probably a dairy) and has now been knocked through to enlarge the hall. The hall has a large axial stack backing onto the passage. The service end room has a gable-end stack with a winder stair rising alongside. The present layout is essentially that of the mid 17th century. The original house however was a Dartmoor longhouse open to the roof from end to end, divided by low partitions and heated by an open hearth fire. The hall fireplace was inserted in the mid or late 16th century. The house was progressively floored over between the mid 16th and mid 17th century. The shippon was converted to a parlour in the mid 17th century; the new stack blocks the original cow door in the right end wall. At the same time the hall was converted to a kitchen. House is now two storeys throughout with secondary outshots across the back and a circa 1960 extension on the lower end.
Exterior: regular but not symmetrical 4-window front of 20th century replacement casements with glazing bars, the first floor ones enlarged circa 1960 to rise into the thatch with pointed thatch arches over. The front passage doorway is right of centre and is probably late 16th-early 17th century; a Tudor arch with chamfered surround containing an ancient studded oak plank door. The front was apparently faced up with granite ashlar since no evidence of the late medieval fenestration shows. The roof is half-hipped at the upper left end and gable-ended to right. In the downhill right end wall there is a 2-centred arch doorway (the original cow door) which was blocked in the mid 17th century by the parlour stack. A part of it is covered by an external stone staircase to the extension on this end.
Good interior despite the removal of the upper hall crosswall. The hall has a large granite ashlar fireplace with hollow-chamfered surround. The crossbeam here is plainly soffit-chamfered. The rear passage doorway was reduced in size in the mid 17th century when granite doorframe with ovolo-moulded surround was put there (now missing one jamb). The mid 17th century parlour in the service end (former shippon). It has plain soffit-chamfered crossbeams and a granite fireplace with a soffit-chamfered and scroll-stopped oak crossbeam. On the first floor only one true crock truss shows but the roofspace shows that others are boxed into the partitions there. All have cambered collars and small yokes at the apexes {Alcock's apex type L1). In fact the one nearest the lower end appears to be an A-frame and have a smaller collar but the apex form is the same and it, like the whole roof including the common rafters and underside of the thatch, is thoroughly smoke-blackened from the open hearth fire. Ensworthy is both an exceptionally attractive and most interesting Dartmoor farmhouse. Other details: LB UID: 94700.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV339770Cartographic: 1840. Tithe Map. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #87783 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347677Report - Assessment: Jones, B.. 1996. Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Comb Bound. 1.
SDV347690Report - Assessment: Thorp, J. R. L.. 2000. Bakehouse at Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K607. A4 Comb Bound. 2.

Associated Monuments

MDV77266Part of: Great Ensworthy farmstead, Gidleigh (Monument)
MDV33260Related to: Barn and bakehouse at Great Ensworthy, Gidleigh (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5233 - Survey at Great Ensworthy Farm, Gidleigh

Date Last Edited:Aug 15 2011 10:35AM