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HER Number:MDV33850
Name:Higher Fernworthy Farmhouse


Higher Fernworthy farmhouse built in the 15th century with 17th and 20th century alterations


Grid Reference:SX 511 870
Map Sheet:SX58NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBridestowe
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIDESTOWE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 609154
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX58NW/25/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 94293

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (XIV to XVII - 1400 AD to 1700 AD (Between))

Full description

National Monuments Record, SX58NW25 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV342940.

Department of Environment, 1987, Bridestowe, 35-36 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338897.

Fernworthy house, formerly a farmhouse built in the 15th century with 17th century alterations, modernised and partially rebuilt in late 20th century. Mainly of local rubble construction with the left-hand gable end and part of the front wall having been rebuilt in concrete blocks. Thatched roof hipped to left-hand end, gabled to right. Axial brick stack. Plan: shows complex pattern of development and its original form is not entirely clear. It now consists of a long lower end to the left divided by a through passage from the hall and an outshut at the rear of the lower end. The hall appears to be the fragment of a larger high quality medieval hall house and is very likely to have extended further at its higher end. Its stack may pre-date the ceiling which was inserted in the early-mid 17th century and a newel stair was added in a projection to the rear at the same time. The lower end is probably an addition but its lack of dateable features and substantial rebuilding make its date uncertain although its original function is likely to have been a shippon. The time of the demolition of the higher end is also unclear. In the 19th century an outshut was added to the rear of the lower end and in the 20th century the lower end was partially rebuilt and converted to domestic accommodation. Although the later development of this house can be surmised its original form is more problemmatic and its only apparent surviving structure is a high quality 2-bay hall. At its lower end the form of roof truss and the fact that original roof structure terminates here in a solid wall suggest that the house ended here, whereas the structure at the higher end, resembling a spere-truss, suggests there was only a light partition at this end and the house extended further beyond, possibly in a cross-wing. The solid wall enclosing the truss at this end is likely to be a later insertion but the evidence of a doorway in it (in a very unusual position for an external door in an early Devon house) further corroborates this theory and is thus likely to pre-date the demolition of the higher end. Exterior: 2 storeys. Asymmetrical 4 window front of early 20th century small-paned 2-light casements, the left-hand windows on each floor are late 20th century. Doorway to passage at centre has double 20th century plank doors. This doorway and the window to its right have segmental stone arches above. To the left of the door is a 19th century lean-to outbuilding beyond which the rebuild in concrete blocks starts. At the rear is a 19th century lean-to at the centre. Towards the left end is the small rectangular stair projection which has been cut away beneath the left-hand side fora window at the rear of the hall. The right-hand gable wall shows signs in its stonework of a blocked stone arched doorway. Interior contains a most interesting original roof structure which extends over 2 bays from the lower side of the passage to the higher end of the hall. The main hall truss is a true cruck which has one scarfed joint to the front blade, between the collar and ridge. The ridge is diagonal and has a triangular strengthening block below it. The purlins are diagonal and are a hybrid of clasped and butt purlins as they butt into a mortice formed between the inner face of the principal rafter and the collar. The morticed collar is arch-braced and has a raised crank at the centre. Both collar and arch braces are chamfered as are the principles. There is one set of curved and chamfered windbraces either side of the truss below the purlin which clasp the purlins in a birdmouth joint. The lower end truss appears to be a base cruck with no structure above, the collar goes straight across with archbraces but an odd feature of it is a small strut rising from the collar clasping the purlin (this has been removed at the front). The whole truss is built into a solid wall and there is no evidence for the roof having continued further beyond it. The purpose of this truss appears to have been mainly decorative. The roof structure at the higher end of the hall is equally interesting - the form of spere truss which it closely resembles being unusual in Devon. It consists of 2 vertical posts extending down to ground level and connected at the top by a straight collar. Butted into the joint of post and collar on each side are the purlins and a curved strut - which corresponds to the windbrace on that side of the hall truss and clasps the purlin with the same joint - rises from some way down the vertical post either side to join the purlins. Supporting the ridge at this end is a king post rising from the collar and there is evidence that there may have been a strut between this and the ridge. In between this structure and the main hall truss is a chamfered and cranked collar with a light super-structure above it. The complete roof structure is smoke-blackened and of heavy scantling. Beyond the wall on the lower side of the passage the roof structure over the lower end is probably 19th century consisting of rough insubstantial principal rafters with lapped and pegged collars. The Hall has 3 cross beams which are chamfered with bar and hollow step stops. The fireplace has roughly chamfered granite jambs and a chamfered wooden lintel which has worn straight cut or step stops. It has a cloam oven to the right-hand side. At the rear of the hall the wooden winder stairs survive. The importance of this house lies in its early and very unusual form of roof structure which is particularly unexpected in such a relatively modest house and various factors suggest that the house was originally both larger and more important. The late 16th/early 17th century alterations are also interesting for the light they shed on the later development of a house whose original form is unclear. Other details: LBS Number 94293.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 211 (Monograph). SDV325629.

National Monuments Record, 2009, Monument Number 609154 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV342941.

Fernworthy farmhouse. The earliest surviving structure is a high quality 15th century 2-bay hall which appears to be a fragment of a Medieval hall house which once extended further at the higher end. The house end is probably an addition, but the lack of dateable evidence makes its date uncertain. Major alterations of the late 16th/early 17th century. The house's importance lies in its early and unusual roof structure which combines a central true cruck with a base-cruck and spere-truss at either end of the hall. Other details: Monument Number 609154.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 211.
SDV338897List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Bridestowe. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound. 35-36.
SDV342940National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. SX58NW25. National Monuments Record Index. Card Index.
SDV342941National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2009. Monument Number 609154. National Monuments Record Index. Website.

Associated Monuments

MDV15955Part of: Fernworthy Medieval Farmstead (Monument)
MDV15955Related to: Fernworthy Medieval Farmstead (Monument)
MDV53079Related to: Cemetery at Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV4660Related to: Chapel at Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV15955Part of: Fernworthy Medieval Farmstead (Monument)
MDV15955Related to: Fernworthy Medieval Farmstead (Monument)
MDV75700Related to: Linhay at Fernworthy Farmstead (Monument)
MDV75697Related to: Pigsty at Higher Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV75701Related to: Pound south of Fernworthy Farmstead (Monument)
MDV75698Related to: Two Barns at Higher Fernworthy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Sep 1 2009 2:03PM