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HER Number:MDV33272
Name:Church House, Throwleigh


Early 16th century church house that functioned as a building for baking and brewing ale as well as for feasting and gatherings. It was converted into three cottages in the 18th or 19th century but reunited into one house circa 1980. Many interesting features remain; building is a good example of its type.


Grid Reference:SX 667 907
Map Sheet:SX69SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishThrowleigh
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTHROWLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SE/171
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH HOUSE (XV - 1440 AD to 1500 AD (Between))

Full description

Everett, A. W., 1938-1939, The Church House, Throwleigh, 353-354 (Article in Serial). SDV260763.

The building was once two tenements.

Copeland, G. W., 1960, Devonshire Church-Houses: Part 1, 134-5, Fig. 29-30 (Article in Serial). SDV298102.

[Church House] adjoins the lych-gate to the churchyard east of the church. It has been restored but is still a picturesque thatched house, probably largely of cob, plastered and colour-washed. The roof is hipped at its south end; there is an ancient upper window on the south side of two lights with obtuse heads and sunk spandrels. East is a chamfered granite window frame; and there is a good chamfered pointed granite doorway on this side also. The walls have chamfered plinth-moulds, and there are old chimneys clustered in a rectangular stack to the north. Now a private dwelling.

Copeland, G. W., 1963, Devonshire Church Houses: Part 4, 263 (Article in Serial). SDV7678.

Not of cob, but built of large granite blocks

Department of Environment, 1987, Throwleigh, 178 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV274669.

Howis Croxford, C. A., 1988, A Walkabout Guide to Throwleigh, 6-7 (Pamphlet). SDV361768.

Whitley, G. H., 1993, Throwleigh Pound House, Fig. 2 (No. 12) (Report - non-specific). SDV350253.

Poor House, later Church House.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

House, former church house. Early 16th century, improved in late 16th century-early 17th century, converted into 3 cottages in the 18th or 19th century, united into one house and modernised circa 1980. Coursed blocks of granite ashlar on a chamfered plinth but granite stone rubble to rear; granite stack with granite ashlar chimney shaft; thatch roof. Plan: The building faces east, backing onto the churchyard alongside the lych gate. Circa 1980 the ground floor was cleared of all internal partitions returning it apparently to what it was in the 17th century. Nevertheless there are opposing doorways set a little right of centre. Originally the house was open to the roof. In the late 16th - early 17th century the floor was inserted and a stack built in the right (north) end wall. There is a contemporary stair alongside the fireplace to rear, and since a disused stair branches off the main stair to rear, there must have been a rear block. The present main stair is a 20th century insertion. At the back there is external stone stair to a first floor doorway. 2 storeys with 20th century rear service outshot. Exterior: Irregular front fenestration, 3 ground floor and 2 first floor casements. Central ground floor window is a timber 19th century flat-faced mullion window containing rectangular panes of leaded glass, the rest are 20th century copies. Only the ground floor left window obviously occupies an old window embrasure; granite ashlar with chamfered reveals. The original front doorway is a 2-centred arch with chamfered surround and contains a 19th century stable-type door. Roof is gable-ended to right and hipped to left. The left end wall contains 2 late 16th - early 17th century windows at first floor level. Both are 2 lights but the front one has square-headed lights and the rear window lights have pointed heads and sunken spandrels. Good interior: The late 16th - early 17th century ceiling is 4 bays carried on crossbeams of large scantling; they are soffit-chamfered with straight cut stops although one beam has pyramid stops at the front end. (Maybe similar stops have been knocked off the others). The joists are soffit-chamfered and most are original but those in the left (south) end bay are replacements. The fireplace is unusually large. It is nearly the full width of the building. Its hollow-chamfered granite ashlar lintel was a single piece but is now supported where it has cracked. To left is a round- headed granite doorway to the stone stairs. The original roof is intact. The 3 bays are carried on true cruck trusses with soffit-chamfered cambered collars and sets of chamfered threaded purlins. The whole structure including the hip construction, common rafters and underside of the original rye thatch are heavily smoke-blackened from the16th century open hearth fire. Not only is this the most attractive of a group of listed houses in the centre of Throwleigh village it is also a well-preserved example of a late medieval church house. Date listed: 22nd February 1967.

Thorp, J. + Cox, J., 2014, Church House, Throwleigh, Devon (Report - Assessment). SDV357605.

The original late medieval building appears to have been an open hall heated by an open hearth fire. If part was partitioned off this would evidently have been with a low screen. The evidence for the late medieval church house which was open to the roof comes largely from the roof and is likely to date to c.1440-1500. Smoke-blackened thatch recorded here. The roughly central east-facing front doorway probably dates from this primary phase.
In the early-mid 16th century the building was transformed in a major refurbishment. The north end stack was constructed and a first floor level created as a feasting chamber with an external stair at the south end. The chimneystack was built to serve an enormous fireplace, nearly the full width of the building. At the same time a first floor structure was inserted carried on a series of hefty oak crossbeams. Although this building phase included a tight newel stair in the northwest corner (next to the fireplace) the main access to the first floor level was apparently an external stair to a doorway at the east end of the south end wall. The building was used for baking and brewing ale as well as for feasting and gatherings, which took place in the first floor room.
Church Houses were suppressed in the early 17th century due to Puritan disapproval. When the buildings remained in parish ownership they were usually put to social use providing accommodation for the poor and elderly or used as a school. This building was still owned by the parish in 1846 when the cloam oven was installed in the fireplace. It probably went out of parish use in the 20th century. According to the list description it was converted to three cottages in the 18th century or 19th century and extensively modernised in c.1980. This modernisation involved the removal of all internal partitions at ground floor level. At this time there was a main timber stair south of centre dating from the 20th century. Partitions still remain at first floor level and at least one dates back to the 18th century on the evidence of the doorway it contains (see below). At the back there is an external flight of steps to a first floor doorway which probably dates from the 19th or early 20th century. The single-storey lean-to service outshut to north of the rear steps dates from c.1980.
Church House is built of local moorstone, that is to say blocks of granite gleaned from the surface clitter of the vicinity rather than a quarry. There is also some cob surviving on the wall tops.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV260763Article in Serial: Everett, A. W.. 1938-1939. The Church House, Throwleigh. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 20. Unknown. 353-354.
SDV274669List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Throwleigh. Historic Houses Register. A4 Bound. 178.
SDV298102Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1960. Devonshire Church-Houses: Part 1. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 92. A5 Hardback. 134-5, Fig. 29-30.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #87797 ]
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350253Report - non-specific: Whitley, G. H.. 1993. Throwleigh Pound House. A4 Comb Bound. Fig. 2 (No. 12).
SDV357605Report - Assessment: Thorp, J. + Cox, J.. 2014. Church House, Throwleigh, Devon. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K850. Digital.
SDV361768Pamphlet: Howis Croxford, C. A.. 1988. A Walkabout Guide to Throwleigh. Village guide. A5 Paperback. 6-7.
SDV7678Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1963. Devonshire Church Houses: Part 4. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 95. A5 Hardback. 263.

Associated Monuments

MDV6974Related to: Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Throwleigh (Building)
MDV114078Related to: Graveyard, St. Mary's Church, Throwleigh (Monument)
MDV108888Related to: Throwleigh war memorial, St Mary's churchyard (Monument)
MDV33270Related to: Wayside, Throwleigh (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6639 - Building assessment at Church House, Throwleigh (Ref: K850)

Date Last Edited:Sep 14 2018 11:59AM