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HER Number:MDV33745
Name:Tordown House, Swimbridge


House dating to the 18th century with an earlier kitchen wing which retains a number of 17th century features. The main house may have replaced an earlier one. The house is particuarly associated with Revd John Russell, the breeder of the Jack Russell Terrier, who lived there in the 19th century and also the modernist artist, Gerald Moore (1926-2018) who retired there.


Grid Reference:SS 634 313
Map Sheet:SS63SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSwimbridge
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSWIMBRIDGE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS63SW/92
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOUSE (Built, XVII to XIX - 1601 AD (Between) to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Department of Environment, 1986, Swimbridge, 120 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV85764.

Tordown House. House. C17 origins with possibly earlier fabric concealed, entirely remodelled in late C18/early C19. Painted rendered stone, some cob. Asbestos slate roofs with gable ends. Rendered stacks to each gable end and lateral stack to rear enclosed in 2-storey outshut. Modillion cornice. Lack of symmetry to otherwise classical facade suggests refronting of an earlier core, and indeed the original plan appears to have been the typical 3-room and through-passage plan with rear lateral hall stack, with an additional kitchen range added to left gable end, unaffected by the later remodelling.
Two storeys and attic-storey. Four window range of sashes, all 16-paned except that above doorway which is 12-paned, all hornless and with original glass. Doric porch with engaged columns and dentilled cornice. Six-panelled door with upper four panels glazed and fittings intact, now enclosed by lean-to conservatory stretching across two central bays. Kitchen range set back to left has 3-light C19 casement, 8-panes per light to left of doorway with two 2 light casements above that to left with 6-panes per light that to right has 2 panes per light.
Two storey outshuts to rear retain most of their original fenestration including a round-arched stair window.
Interior: mainly intact from time of remodelling including joinery, window shutters, dog-leg staircase with wreathed and moulded handrail ramped up to slender newels. Painted surround to first floor fireplace in outshut. Water pump still in use in kitchen range. Lime ash floors to service rooms. Tordown house was the home of the Rev John Russell from 1833.

Wapshott, E. + Morris, B., 2021, Tordown House, Tordown, Swimbridge, North Devon. Historic Building Assessment (Report - Survey). SDV364549.

An historic building assessment of the house and associated outbuildings was undertaken in December 2020. The main house is a six bay, two storey structure with rendered and painted walls, under a gabled slate roof with outshuts to the rear. It appears to have two gable end chimney stacks and an axial stack, although the west gable stack actually serves an axial fireplace in the dining room. The front (south) elevation has an off centre conservatory and an asymmetric window range. Set back at an angle is a one and a half storey kitchen block, with a slate roof and lean-tos to the rear and a large gable end stack. Abutting the kitchen block is a single storey range of 19th century stone and brick outbuildings. These face a small service yard which was remodelled in the 20th century. On the south side of the yard is the truncated remains of a cob and stone barn, which was converted to an artists studio in the late 20th century.
The main house has an atypical floor plan which evidences its development over time. The assessment confirmed the Listed Building description that the house is 19th century in appearance but is 17th century or earlier in origin. The kitchen wing retains a number of 17th century features and may, therefore, have been an earlier building. The main house may also have superseded an earlier one and is suggested to have been a minor gentry house built for the Nott family in the mid 18th century with a separate kitchen wing. The house was later extended to the east and linked to the kitchen wing. Further changes occurred during the course of the 19th century when it was used as a dower house or rented to local clergymen. It is particularly associated with Revd John Russell, the breeder of the Jack Russell terrier, who lived there from 1832 until the 1840s and again in the later 1870s, and who may have built the stable block and kennels.
The interior retains some good late Georgian/Regency and mid-Victorian fittings but also has some later decorative elements on the ground floor, in the rear corridor, study and dining room, which are an historical pastiche, combining introduced historic features and modern materials. These do have some associative value, as they are the work of the modernist artist Gerald Moore (1926-2018) who retired to Tordown House.
It is suggested that should work to the house or associated structures go beyond removal of the modern elements; it is felt for example that the dining room should be returned to a more appropriate style, it should be accompanied by a programme of more detailed historic building recording.
See report for full details of the house and its decorative features.

Ordnance Survey, 2023, Mastermap 2023 (Cartographic). SDV365227.

Tordown House marked.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV364549Report - Survey: Wapshott, E. + Morris, B.. 2021. Tordown House, Tordown, Swimbridge, North Devon. Historic Building Assessment. South West Archaeology. 210521. Digital.
SDV365227Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2023. Mastermap 2023. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #141113 ]
SDV85764List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1986. Swimbridge. Historic Houses Register. 120.

Associated Monuments

MDV33746Related to: Stable block to east of Tordown House, Swimbridge (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8957 - Historic building assessment at Tordown House, Swimbridge (Ref: 210521)

Date Last Edited:Sep 28 2023 10:08AM