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HER Number:MDV33530
Name:Middle Venton Farmhouse, Drewsteignton


Farmhouse, former Dartmoor longhouse. Early or mid 16th century with major later 16th and 17th century improvements. Smallish blocks of roughly-shaped granite laid to rough courses and large quoins, cob wall tops, front of house section is plastered; granite stacks topped with 19th and 20th century brick; thatch roof, replaced with corrugated iron over the shippon. Unusual in having an unmodernised shippon. Felling dates of 1507 - 1530 were obtained in 2011 through dendrochronological analysis of samples, confirming the dating of the longhouse.


Grid Reference:SX 694 910
Map Sheet:SX69SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDrewsteignton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDREWSTEIGNTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SE/177
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 94926
  • Pastscape: 897981

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (XVI - 1507 AD to 1530 AD (Between)) + Sci.Date

Full description

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Gerrard, S., 1993-2002, Monument Protection Programme Alternative Action Report (Report - non-specific). SDV145710.

Allan, J., 2006, Archaeological Assessment of Middle Venton, Drewsteignton, 1-11 (Report - Assessment). SDV347667.

Middle Venton longhouse is thought to date exclusively to the 17th century; no evidence of 16th century origins for the house. It is an example of a mid-status longhouse in a small holding. Certain features indicate it was carefully designed; the moulded beams, close-set joists and massive granite fireplace in the hall are all examples of this. It is particularly important in that it has survived in a remarkably unaltered state, retaining the plan and volumes of the rooms in an almost complete state and many features such as door-frames, fireplace, ceilings and almost its entire roof, which is quite rare. Also exceptional is the survival of the shippon in an unaltered form.

Arnold, A. + Howard, R., 2011, Middle Venton Farmhouse; tree ring analysis of timbers, 1-5 (Report - Scientific). SDV347497.

Tree ring analysis was undertaken on samples taken from timbers within Middle Venton resulting in the construction and dating of two site sequences. The first contains six samples (five from the primary roof at the upper end of the longhouse and one from the ceiling of the inner room) and spans the period AD 1355-1506. Interpretation of the sapwood shows that these timbers were felled in AD 1507-30.
The second sequence contains two samples (both from the ceiling of the hall) which span the period AD 1500-1588 and both timbers were felled between AD 1598-1623. Analysis has shown that the primary roof over the hall was constructed from timber felled in the early-mid 16th century and the floor in the western end of the longhouse appears to be the same date. The ceiling of the hall contains timbers felled somewhat later at the very end of the 16th century or first quarter of the 17th century indicating a phase of modification in the longhouse at this time. A third sequence was undated.
Prior to this dating the primary phase of the house was thought to date to the early to mid-16th century with some alterations, including a new secondary roof being constructed in the early to mid-17th century. The place in the sequence of development of other features such as the hall ceiling and various openings was unclear. The dating results support the early-mid 16th century date assigned to the building and confirms that the western part of the building was always floored. Two of the main beams of the ceiling of the hall have been dated to a felling of AD 1598-1623, suggesting insertion of this ceiling, at the earliest, at the very end of the 16th or the early 17th century.

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

Farmhouse, former Dartmoor longhouse. Early or mid 16th century with major later 16th and 17th century improvements. Smallish blocks of roughly-shaped granite laid to rough courses and large quoins, cob wall tops, front of house section is plastered; granite stacks topped with 19th and 20th century brick; thatch roof, replaced with corrugated iron over the shippon.
Plan and development: 3-room-and-through-passage plan Dartmoor longhouse facing south-east and built diagonally across a gentle slope. The rear and uphill end are terraced into the hillslope. At the uphill left end is the inner room parlour with a projecting gable-end stack. The hall has a large axial stack backing onto the passage. The shippon is now used for storage. Since the roof structure was completely replaced (probably at a higher level) in the 17th century most of the evidence for the earlier development of the house has been removed. Nevertheless it is likely that it began as an open hall house probably heated by an open hearth fire. The hall fireplace was inserted in the mid or late 16th century. The inner room was refurbished, and probably enlarged, as a parlour in the mid 17th century. The hall was floored about the same time and was thereafter used as a kitchen. In the 20th century the passage front doorway was blocked and the present doorway inserted into the parlour (which is now used as the kitchen). Two storeys.
Exterior: the house section has an irregular 3-window front of 20th century casements with glazing bars. Present doorway towards left end contains a 20th century door behind a contemporary gabled and slate-roofed porch. The ground floor right window of this section is blocking the passage front doorway. The shippon section to right is exposed granite. There is a cow door immediately to right of the blocked passage front doorway. Towards the right end there is a window, probably a dung hatch over a drain hole. The right end wall of the shippon has two slit windows and there is a hayloft loading hatch in the rear wall. The rest of the rear wall is blind except for the passage rear doorway. The roof is gable-ended.
Interior: the oldest feature in the house is the early or mid 16th century oak doorframe from passage to hall; it is round-headed with a chamfered surround. Hall has a large granite fireplace with an oak lintel which is soffit-chamfered and has one pyramid stop. The oven was relined with 19th century brick. The hall crossbeam is soffit- chamfered with step stops. The inner room fireplace has a granite fireplace with a soffit-chamfered oak lintel and the crossbeam here is roughly soffit-chamfered. The ground floor partitions are stone rubble; those on the first floor are timber framed. The first floor partition between hall and inner room chambers may incorporate an original truss. Otherwise the roof from end to end is carried on 17th century A-frames with pegged lap-jointed collars. The shippon has roughly-finished crossbeams. Middle Venton is one of the minority of Dartmoor longhouses where the shippon is unmodernised. It is still essentially how it was when used as a cow byre although the drain has been buried (1988). Other details: LB UID: 94926.

Vernacular Architecture Group, 2017, Dendrochronology Database (Un-published). SDV360697.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV145710Report - non-specific: Gerrard, S.. 1993-2002. Monument Protection Programme Alternative Action Report. English Heritage. Unknown.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic. [Mapped feature: #87986 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347497Report - Scientific: Arnold, A. + Howard, R.. 2011. Middle Venton Farmhouse; tree ring analysis of timbers. English Heritage Research Department Report. 23-2011. A4 Comb Bound. 1-5.
SDV347667Report - Assessment: Allan, J.. 2006. Archaeological Assessment of Middle Venton, Drewsteignton. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.17. A4 Bound. 1-11.
SDV360697Un-published: Vernacular Architecture Group. 2017. Dendrochronology Database. Dendrochronology Database. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV76996Part of: Middle Venton farmstead, Drewsteignton (Building)
MDV33531Related to: Barn south of Farmhouse, Middle Venton (Building)
MDV77529Related to: Higher Venton farmstead, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV33529Related to: Rose Cottage, Drewsteignton (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5139 - Tree ring analysis, Middle Venton Farmhouse
  • EDV5231 - Assessment of the longhouse at Middle Venton

Date Last Edited:Feb 8 2021 10:43AM