HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV62830
Name:The Wilderness, Tetcott


Parkland at Tetcott House, thought to have developed from a formal landscape of walled gardens and courts around the Tudor house, to a more extensive semi-formal 17th century landscape wih picturesque features, then a modest Victorian or Edwardian ‘pocket’ park created out of the 18th century landscape, with selective tree felling and removal of formal walks.


Grid Reference:SX 334 965
Map Sheet:SX39NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTetcott
Ecclesiastical ParishTETCOTT

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Site of Old Tetcott House, 18th century stables listed Grade II and The Wilderness, a 19th century 'pocket' park created from earlier Tudor and 17th century gardens and landscaping

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX39NW/502/3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARK (XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

A possible avenue is depicted, leading west from the lake, as a double row of smaller trees.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'The Wilderness' marked.

Ordnance Survey, 1907, 74NW (Cartographic). SDV4006.

'The Wilderness' recorded. Park or grounds of Tetcott House.

Ordnance Survey, 1963, Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (Cartographic). SDV166087.

'The Wilderness' recorded.

Environment Agency, 2000-2019, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) EA: Tamar Aerial Survey project area, LIDAR Environment Agency LAST RETURN 19-DEC-2004 (Cartographic). SDV363954.

Curvilinear banks, ditches and depressions are visible as earthworks.

Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 2001-2002, Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Transcriptions and Database Records (Interpretation). SDV346287.

Some of the visible earthworks had been previously transcribed by the Tamar Valley NMP project, depicting curvilinear banks and ditches as well as areas of ridge and furrow. These have been re-transcribed in greater detail based upon recent lidar data as part of the 2020-21 Tamar/Lidar project. Some of the transcribed features were not visible on the available lidar data visualisations and have therefore not been re-transcribed.

Environment Agency, 2011, LIDAR data JPEG images (2 metre resolution) (Cartographic). SDV348634.

A curvilinear feature, possibly an earthwork bank up to 10 metres wide, is visble to the west of the lake. Another narrower curvilinear earthwork bank is visible between the fishpond and the site of the former building, centred at NGR233346,96534.

NERC, 2013, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: Tamar Aerial Survey project area, LIDAR Tellus LAST RETURN 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013 (Cartographic). SDV363955.

Curvilinear banks, ditches and depressions are visible as earthworks.

Knight, S., 2013-2015, Land Management Case Work, 07/01/2014 (Personal Comment). SDV351543.

A large building, possibly the dismantled eighteenth century country house, is depicted within this area on the 1837 Tithe Map but not the 1880s-1890s OS map (MDV105712). In addition several possible earthwork features are visible on images derived from Lidar data. These include a linear bank immediately to the south of the former house leading north-east to the fishpond (MDV36909), and another linear bank heading west of the fishpond on a similar alignment to double row of smaller trees depicted on the Tithe map. The dates and functions of these earthworks are not clear from the available imagery but they may be associated with the eighteenth century parkland.

Devon Gardens Trust, 2014, Devon Gardens Trust, http://www.devongardenstrust.org.uk/?q=node/379 (Website). SDV356845.

Tetcott Manor is sited on an eminence of land within a small C18/19 park in the Picturesque tradition. The early C18 ashlar granite gate piers with ball finials mark the entrance from where the drive meanders across the parkland landscape to the C13 Holy Cross Church (C16 tower) and Tetcott Manor. Although small, the landscape is clearly designed with a carriage drive, parkland trees, and a fishpond, copses of trees (near the entrance and beyond the church) contain the views from within the site. The Tithe Map shows a formal layout of rides through the woods but this had disappeared by the time of the Ist edition OS Map of 1880s/90s which shows typical English parkland, annotated as The Wilderness; both maps show the fishpond and an orchard south west of the church, which no longer exists.
Tetcott Manor has been owned by the Molesworths of Pencarrow, Cornwall since 1788, before that it was the manor house of the Arscotts. The Manor dates from the late C17 but has been adapted and modified over the centuries. The Manor is constructed of granite under a slate roof. There are a number of fine outbuildings, including a brick granary (recently restored) and brick stables which may have been associated with the very grand brick house of c.1700 which was demolished in 1831. There is a walled garden with brick walls on three sides adjoining the house and another smaller walled garden adjacent to the Church.
Tetcott Manor with the Church, farm buildings and cottages form an interesting informal composition of historic vernacular Devon buildings in a parkland landscape.
References: Cherry & Pevsner: The Buildings of England – Devon, 1989: 802
Status: on Devon Gazetteer
In Area of Great Landscape Value.

Devon Gardens Trust, 2014, Tetcott Manor (Un-published). SDV358184.

Description of Tetcott Manor and grounds, including two photographs.

Nicholas Pearson Partnership LLP, 2014, TETCOTT WILDERNESS, HIGHER LEVEL STEWARDSHIP MANAGEMENT PLANS, 2014 (Report - non-specific). SDV358107.

The Wilderness is part of a historic designed landscape that once formed the parkland setting of Tetcott House, built in circa 1700 and demolished in 1831. The five key components eligible for funding under Environmental Stewardship and assessed in this study are the fish pond, the parkland trees, parkland fences and entrance gateways, earthworks of former drives and other features, including the site of the early nineteenth century hunting lodge and the west wall of the former walled garden, adjacent the churchyard. The study area excludes the gardens, yards and grounds around the Barton.
The management plans are supported by a brief outline history of the estate, followed by detailed analysis of the five above-mentioned landscape components, setting out their history, significance, condition and proposals for their management and conservation. Documentary evidence has been sourced from the Farm Environment Plan, historic maps, images and literature available online, and from the family’s estate archive collection, and the proposals were drafted following a walkover site survey in 2014.
The likely development of the house and gardens is summarised and suggested as:
1. A formal landscape of walled gardens and courts surrounding the Arscotts’ Tudor house, possibly with similarities to gardens owned by their in-laws at Bradfield and Langdon Court.
2. A more extensive semi-formal landscape with a Wilderness, avenues and ponds providing the setting to the late seventeenth century, baroque mansion and, later, the Molesworths’ short-lived hunting lodge. This may have been set within a wider farming landscape with picturesque landsccape features such as specimen conifers, rides and walks.
3. A modest ‘pocket’ park for the 10th Baronet’s Rectory, created out of the eighteenth century landscape, but with selective tree felling and removal of formal walks to enhance its landscape park character.
Tetcott is a good example of a modest landscape park, with early eighteenth century formal Wilderness origins, illustrated through its documentary record, complex and well-defined field archaeology, and 300 year-old parkland trees. It remains in the ownership of a prominent local family and descendents of the Arscotts, the Molesworth-St Aubyns. Tetcott’s cultural and aesthetic heritage value has been recognised through inclusion on the Devon Gardens Trust register. The landscape forms the setting for some nationally important listed buildings, including the complex multiphase Tetcott Barton, together with some striking English baroque brick outbuildings, unusual in the region. The Wilderness is enjoyed by the local community, visiting the parish church and using the public footpaths across the park. The combination of mature trees, grazed pasture, hedgebanks and pond provides a valuable mixed wildlife habitat.
The condition and management proposals for the key landscape components are detailed in the individual monument records for these features, apart from the parkland trees and fences, summarised below:
Parkland Trees
1884 OS first edition provides the first accurate survey of the trees in The Wilderness: remnants of the densely treed landscape mapped in 1837, derived from the remains of a more formal Wilderness landscape with trees in rows, straight walks, formal avenues and groves created out of woodland. Site evidence suggests characteristic of late-17th and early-18th century fashions, originating from the landscape setting of the c.1700 mansion. High number of parkland trees remained in the 1950s, but this has since declined.
Broad age range of circa 300 to 20/30 years: exposed nature of the site and early life as woodland trees make tree planting dates difficult to estimate, however, some of the trees in the southeast corner could date from the early 1700s. The yew trees to the east of the pond may also date from an early-18th century phase. The individual condition of the trees has been summarised in appendix 4, but generally good condition with moderate ecological interest, although a few are in poor, declining condition, probably due to previous root damage. Form of some of the trees indicates that they started life in woodland edge or field boundary not open grown parkland specimens. Useful evidence for the early development of the landscape. Some more recently planted specimens planted along an archaeological earthwork and within a designed view. Parkland trees play a critical aesthetic role in the landscape, defining the park’s landscape character and form part of the evidence of its historic design, as well as ecological value.
Proposals include: Replant individual specimens to reinstate tree cover recorded in 1884, mainly with native provenance oak and other species present on site, avoiding planting on surviving earthworks, substitute lime for elm; Manage parkland pasture by grazing, without fertiliser, and top annually to maintain a smooth, open park; Retain deadwood over 300mm diameter under the tree canopy and in situ where safe and feasible, excepting sound timber of commercial value, timber within 30 metres of access routes, boundaries and key views plotted on figure 9; Retain mature and veteran parkland trees to their maximum safe biological life, only carrying out tree surgery where necessary to extend the tree’s life or for public safety.
Parkland Fences
Southern and eastern boundaries of The Wilderness almost unchanged since 1837: traditional stone-faced, earthbanks topped with hedges. Northern and western boundaries realigned mid to late 1800s. By 1884, the Wilderness extended north (realignment of the public road around the Rectory) and various modifications to the garden, churchyard and orchard boundaries. Fencing had also been erected, subdividing the parkland into four areas, presumably for livestock management. These internal fences modified by 1906 and then mostly unchanged until 1988.
Formal entrance in the southeast corner in 1837 - location unchanged, despite some slight realignment of the curve of the main entrance drive by 1884. The listed gate piers roughly dated to the early-18th century, and may originate from the circa 1700 mansion.
Internal parkland fencing has been removed in recent years, with some exceptions. External boundaries consist of hedgebanks in largely good condition and modern post and wire livestock fencing. Evidence for historic iron estate railings in sketch of The Hut dated 1874 and sections of parkland railings re-used in the stables.
Two parkland entrances on the main drive: late-20th century (pre 1977) cattle grids with timber post and rail fencing. Infilled hinge sockets in historic entrance gate piers, but no documentary evidence of the gate. Repairs to piers and curving wing walls including some insensitive re-pointing , and now becoming overgrown. Two square profile granite posts mark the former entrance to The Hut, a single-storey residence erected between 1884 and 1906. This formal gateway had gone out of use by 1977, and the original gate has been replaced.
The two sets of gate-piers and the historic boundary banks are locally significant as evidence of the previous appearance and layout of the landscape. The main entrance gate piers are also of national significance as listed structures. However, the other parkland fencing is modern or mid to late-20th century and negligible historic value. The hedgebanks are of ecological value.
Proposals include: Remove derelict timber post and rail fence and reinstate curved parkland railings around the pond, to reopen views to and across the pond; Clean off and repair the main entrance gate piers where necessary. Seek to realign the woodland boundary to the 1884 historic record, to reopen historic views to and from the gate piers and park entrance; Replace the timber fencing and kissing gates around the cattle grids with parkland iron railings to enhance the aesthetic value of the parkland entrances and historic parkland character; Reinstate a hedgerow along the boundary with the Rectory, reinstating the historic northern boundary hedge to the Wilderness; Replace the garden boundary fence with iron railings and locate a gate on the line of the vista from the old mansion to the pond to help interpret the formal vistas in the parkland landscape and reinstate the visual relationship to the main house.

Hegarty, C., Houghton, E., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2020-2021, Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology Area 2 (Culture Recovery Fund project) (Interpretation). SDV364011.

Numerous curvilinear banks and ditches, and depressions are visible as earthworks on visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2004 and 2013 within the grounds of Tetcott Manor. Some of the visible earthworks had previously been transcribed as part of the Tamar Valley NMP project and have been re-transcribed with greater accuracy based on the recent lidar data.
Many of the earthworks correspond with features depicted on historic maps, including the fishpond, tree avenue, routeway, ride, and hunting lodge. The remaining earthworks are interpreted as a range of landscaping works as part of the designed parkland, including probable field boundaries or possible drainage ditches. Some of the features are interpreted as geological and some as a result of modern works undertaken across the park, including platform like earthworks in the south-east part of the parkland and a natural stream feature leading to the south. These earthworks have not been transcribed. Areas of narrow ridge and furrow are visible, they are interpreted as part of post-medieval drainage and improvement and have not been transcribed.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV166087Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1963. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Map (Paper).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346287Interpretation: Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2001-2002. Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Transcriptions and Database Records. National Mapping Programme. Map (Digital).
SDV348634Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2011. LIDAR data JPEG images (2 metre resolution). Digital.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital.
SDV351543Personal Comment: Knight, S.. 2013-2015. Land Management Case Work. 07/01/2014.
SDV356845Website: Devon Gardens Trust. 2014. Devon Gardens Trust. http://www.devongardenstrust.org.uk/?q=node/2. Website. http://www.devongardenstrust.org.uk/?q=node/379.
SDV358107Report - non-specific: Nicholas Pearson Partnership LLP. 2014. TETCOTT WILDERNESS, HIGHER LEVEL STEWARDSHIP MANAGEMENT PLANS, 2014. Nicholas Pearson Partnership LLP. TET.154. Digital.
SDV358184Un-published: Devon Gardens Trust. 2014. Tetcott Manor. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV363954Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2000-2019. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) EA: Tamar Aerial Survey project area. Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR Environment Agency LAST RETURN 19-DEC-2004.
SDV363955Cartographic: NERC. 2013. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: Tamar Aerial Survey project area. Digital. LIDAR Tellus LAST RETURN 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013.
SDV364011Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Houghton, E., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2020-2021. Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology Area 2 (Culture Recovery Fund project). Digital.
SDV4006Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1907. 74NW. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).

Associated Monuments

MDV105712Parent of: Earthworks of Former Hunting Lodge in Tetcott Park (Monument)
MDV106868Parent of: Former Fishponds at Tetcott (Monument)
MDV106869Parent of: Former Structure in Tetcott Park (Monument)
MDV107580Parent of: Ride Through Tetcott Park (Monument)
MDV106871Parent of: Routeway Through Tetcott Park (Monument)
MDV106867Parent of: Site of 'Old Tetcott House' (Monument)
MDV36909Parent of: Tetcott Fishpond, The Wilderness, Tetcott (Monument)
MDV106870Parent of: Tree Lined Avenue in Tetcott Park (Monument)
MDV112714Parent of: Walled Garden at Tetcott (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8356 - Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology Area 2 (Culture Recovery Fund) (Ref: ACD2424)

Date Last Edited:Mar 2 2021 4:21PM