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HER Number:MDV33886
Name:Great Bidlake Manor House, Bridestowe


Manor house dating from the 16th century but possibly with earlier origins. Some medieval fabric survives in the kitchen range. The main build of the house dates from the circa late 16th century, possibly from 1594, the date on a reused window head. The house was extensively altered in mid-19th century when it was turned front to back with a new porch on the north front and new windows. The tower was also built at this time.


Grid Reference:SX 494 886
Map Sheet:SX48NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBridestowe
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIDESTOWE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX48NE18
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX48NE/17/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANOR HOUSE (Built, XV to XIX - 1401 AD? to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Department of Environment, 1987, Bridestowe, 37-38 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338897.

Manor house. Great Bidlake. 16th century with earlier origins, probably with some alterations, in 17th century, extensively restored in mid-19th century with some additions made. Local stone rubble walls with granite dressings. Scantle and grouted slate roof with decorative 19th century ridge tiles; numerous gables.
Complex development of plan. Some medieval fabric survives in the main left cross-wing but the main build of the house dates from circa late-16th century, possibly from 1594, the date on a reused window head - at which time an E-shape would not be unusual in a manor house. Three storey tower with a short wing behind was built, possibly for accommodation of the servants. Numerous mullion windows added or replaced. Two storeys apart from tower. Many different features (see List for full details).

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

Wood, A., 2006, A justification and impact statement for the proposed conservtion and repairworks and developments to Great Bidlake Manor, Bridestowe, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV363621.

Justification and impact statment written to accompany an application for listed building consent for proposed works to the roofs and internal alterations. The roofs currently comprise a mix of slate materials including Devon and Delabole early rag slates and peggies, and Welsh slates. Most of the roofs have been found to be suffering from nail sickness. The roofs of the tower, east range and adjacent Wood Shed Barn were reslated, using the existing Delabole slates, in 2003-4. At the time of the report, the slates had been taken off the main roof, in preparation for remedial works.
Proposed internal alterations include moving the main staircase which research showed to have been moved to its present position in the 19th century, and removal of the Victorian servants back staircase.
See report for further details.

Wood, A., 2006, Historical evaluation and report on the condition of the existing roofs and the proposed reroofing of Great Bidlake Manor, Bridestow, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV363620.

The Bidlake estate was held by the Bidlake family and their descendants from at least 1268 until 1945 when it was finally sold out of the family.
The present house is L-shaped, with a long east range and a three storey tower.
The earliest part of the house is the east wing or kitchen wing of the present main house which probably dates to the medieval period. It is suggested that the doorways to the kitchen and dining room may be vestigial remains of a cross passage and the remains of a cruck roof survive above.
The house developed along with the estate in the 15th and 16th centuries, the central section of the house reflecting the typical 'H' or 'E' plan of the period. It is shown as a substantial two story, two gables house with at least two large chimney stacks on an estate map of 1609.
The house was extensively altered at the end of the 18th century and in the mid and later 19th century. Works included the construction of the east range and the tower and the insertion of granite window frames. The initials 'IW' carved on the frames of the morning room on the north side of the house may refer to John Woolcombe (1775-1866). The initials 'IBW 1843' on the first floor window above probably refer to his son, John Bidlake Wollocombe (1823-1903).
The roof structure of the main house appears to have been constructed in three main phases. The earliest phase is the initial cruck roof over the kitchen range, which is potentially late medieval in origin. At some time this was mostly removed and a new roof was constructed over it but using parts of the original roof. This probably occurred at the same time as the new roof over the main section of the house, in the late 18th or early 19th century. The final phase appears to be 19th century, either dating to the circa 1846 rebuilding or the later reconstruction towards the 1880s when the gable ended dormer windows appear to have been added. There have been further minor alterations and additions in the 20th century.
A variety of slates, including Delabole, Devon and Welsh, and slating styles have been used with some slopes being Turnerised. The slating is generally in poor condition, apart from the east range and tower which were reslated (using the original Delabole slates) in 2003.
See report for full details.

Arnold, A. + Howard, R., 2011, Great Bidlake, Bridestowe, Devon. Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers, 6 (Report - Scientific). SDV347966.

Prior to tree-ring analysis being undertaken at Great Bidlake, the Central and East ranges were thought to be the earliest surviving parts of the building, dating to the sixteenth century. Although the roof over the Central range had been replaced in the nineteenth century, that over the East range was believed to be a survival of the sixteenth century. This East range roof contains three oak trusses, the two at the front of the range (Trusses I and 2) at one height and the third, located towards the rear of the range (Truss 3) at a different height, although it is possible that all three are contemporary. A description of the house during the ownership of Thomas Bidlake (died AD 1531) shows that it had a first floor, in parts at least, by this period.
Timbers from two ceilings, the sitting room in the Central range and the breakfast room in the East range were dated. Two timbers from the breakfast room ceiling have been dated to AD 1574 and three from the sitting room ceiling to AD 1599 (a fourth is likely to also have this felling date). This suggests that both these ceilings date to the second half of the sixteenth century, with the ceiling of the breakfast room being some 25 years earlier than that of the sifting room. If these two ceilings date to the latter part of the sixteenth century, then they cannot be those referred to in the description of pre-1531. However, it may be that these ceilings were replacements for earlier ones. Alternatively, the pre-1531 'chambers above' may refer to the rear of the cross-wing, now the kitchen on the ground floor and a bedroom on the first floor. Unfortunately no timbers from the ceiling in this part of the cross-wing could be dated.

Passmore, A. J. + Collings, A. G., 2011, Great Bidlake, Bridestowe. Report on historical research and investigations below ground, 2007-8 (Report - Interim). SDV363622.

Report presenting the results of historical research and monitoring of groundworks at Great Bidlake Manor.
There are documentary references to Bidlake from the second half of the 13th century and it is presumed that there will have been a house on the site from this date. However, it is considered unlikely that any such early fabric survives in the present house.
The oldest part of the house is the kitchen range on the east side of the house. Surviving roof trusses suggest two structural phases of late medieval and/or early 16th date.
The main and west ranges were built in the late 16th or early 17th century. The pre-existing kitchen range was upgraded and extended to form an 'H' plan house. The date 1594 on a re-used window lintel gives a broad date for the changes. Various phases of alteration have also been proposed in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Further phases of alteration were undertaken in the 19th century. These appear to have been carried out by Revd. John Wollocombe (1775-1866) and his son, John Bidlake Wollocombe (1823-1903) and commemmorated by inscribed initials and dates on windows the new north front. The house was turned front to back during these works with a new porch built in the centre of the north front. The tower was also constructed at this time. Minor alterations and repairs continued during the course of the 20th century.
Monitoring of groundworks were undertaken on the excavation of service trenches outside the house and the removal of existing floors in several rooms of the main house and outbuildings. Features exposed include a water storage tank, two phases of slate flooring in the kitchen, sleeper walls to support floors and culverts.
See report for further details.

2011, Tree-Ring dating lists (Article in Serial). SDV361611.

Tree ring dates noted from Great Bidlake, including for the east range, breakfast room ceiling joists; felling date: 1574 and central range, sitting room ceiling joists; felling date: 1599.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 2015 onwards, 2015 onward Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV362959.

Gabled roofs and tower visible.

Historic England, 2018, National Heritage List for England, 1326276 (National Heritage List for England). SDV360653.

Great Bidlake. Manor house. C16 with earlier origins, probably with some alterations in C17, extensively restored in mid C19 with some additions made.
Date first listed: 20th February 1952
See Designation record for full details.

Ordnance Survey, 2020, MasterMap 2020 (Cartographic). SDV363413.

Building marked on modern mapping.

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. 37-38.
SDV347966Report - Scientific: Arnold, A. + Howard, R.. 2011. Great Bidlake, Bridestowe, Devon. Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers. English Heritage Research Department Report. 13-2011. A4 Grip Bound + Digital. 6.
SDV360653National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2018. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1326276.
SDV361611Article in Serial: 2011. Tree-Ring dating lists. Vernacular Architecture. 42. Unknown.
SDV362959Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015 onwards. 2015 onward Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital).
SDV363413Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap 2020. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #124850 Extent also taken from SDV363959 which shows the tower., ]
SDV363620Report - Survey: Wood, A.. 2006. Historical evaluation and report on the condition of the existing roofs and the proposed reroofing of Great Bidlake Manor, Bridestow, Devon. Andrew Wood. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV363621Report - non-specific: Wood, A.. 2006. A justification and impact statement for the proposed conservtion and repairworks and developments to Great Bidlake Manor, Bridestowe, Devon. Andrew Wood Chartered Architect Report.
SDV363622Report - Interim: Passmore, A. J. + Collings, A. G.. 2011. Great Bidlake, Bridestowe. Report on historical research and investigations below ground, 2007-8. Exeter Archaeology Report. 11.07. A4 Comb Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV1624Part of: Great Bidlake Farm, Bridestowe (Monument)
MDV33885Related to: East Range at Great Bidlake Manor, Bridestowe (Building)
MDV33884Related to: Gate piers and wall south-west of Great Bidlake (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5417 - Dendrochronological Analysis, Great Bidlake
  • EDV8256 - Survey of the roof structure of Great Bidlake Manor House
  • EDV8258 - Monitoring of groundworks at Great Bidlake Manor House, Bridestowe

Date Last Edited:Mar 26 2020 8:08AM