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HER Number:MDV6970
Name:Farmhouse at Higher Shilstone, Throwleigh


Higher Shilstone is an outstanding late 15th / early 16th century Dartmoor longhouse. Attractively sited and tucked tightly into the hillslopes and is consistently built to a high standard from its medieval roof to the 1656 front doorway. It also forms a group with its associated 17th century farm buildings. Only very superficial modernisations since the 17th century and is therefore remarkably well-preserved. One of the finest surviving examples of the Dartmoor longhouse type. In short it is a house of national importance


Grid Reference:SX 660 901
Map Sheet:SX69SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishThrowleigh
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTHROWLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Buildings Record: 78285
  • National Monuments Record: SX69SE34
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 444118
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SE/25
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 94740

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (Built, XV to XVII - 1450 AD (Between) to 1699 AD (Between))

Full description

Worth, R. H., 1934 - 1938, The Dartmoor House, 26, plate (Article in Serial). SDV162908.

At Higher Shilston (Shilstone) there is a separate door under a round arch alongside the main front door, leading into the lobby. The house is dated 1656 above the porch; it retains most, if not all, its original features and is an interesting, even outstanding, house of this period. House all of one date.

Alexander, J. J., 1940 - 1941, The Shilstons, 25-30 (Article in Serial). SDV342839.

Oliver, B. W., 1949, The Devonshire Cottage, 40, plate 16, figure 4 (Article in Serial). SDV70295.

Higher Shilston. Typical Dartmoor farm. Fine mullioned granite windows, still filled with leaded glazing.

Worth, R. H., 1953, Dartmoor, 412, plate 84a, figure 119. (Monograph). SDV231148.

Longhouse with separate entrance to shippon end. "Lobby" and exterior illustrated.

Mercer, E., 1975, English Vernacular Houses, 40 (Monograph). SDV336308.

Shilston, a typical Devon longhouse, mentioned.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SX69SE34, Photograph included (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV269870.

(31/01/1978) Higher Shilstone (name confirmed) at SX 66019014 (referred to by Worth (1953) as Shilston) is stated by him to be the finest example of a Type 'D' domestic building. The logical sequence of development of the Dartmoor area house resulted in what Worth has classified as the 'D' Type, in which the animals were excluded from the lobby and given a separate entrance to the shippon from the outside. This is well seen at Higher Shilstone where there is a separate door under a round arch alongside the main front door, leading into the lobby. An entrance from the lobby to the shippen is retained, so the lobby becomes part of the house. The house is dated 1656 above the porch; it retains most, if not all, its original features and is an interesting, even outstanding, house of this period.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 108 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

True cruck recorded at Higher Shilstone.

Beacham, P., 1984, Higher Shilstone Farm (Worksheet). SDV269877.

Fully developed longhouse, farmhouse and outbuildings are an exceptionally well preserved / unaltered example of a Dartmoor Farmstead. Smoke-blackened roof complete; original shippon roof.
House has round-headed door to cross-passage with roll-moulding and decorated spandrels, over which is a hood moulding with labels. Adjacent to this is a plainer door, also of granite, to the shippon. Throughout front elevation and around the rest of the house are a selection of three and four light hollow moulded granite mullioned windows.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 805 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Higher Shilstone Farmhouse. late C15th-early C16th. This is one of the finest surviving Dartmoor longhouses, and as such is of national importance. Grade I.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Depicted on the modern mapping.

English Heritage, 2014, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV355683.

1/208 Higher Shilstone farmhouse - including stables and garden walls 20.2.52 adjoining to south GV I
Farmhouse, a Dartmoor longhouse, with adjoining stable block. Late C15 - early C16 with major later C16 and C17 improvements, one phase dated 1656; only minor subsequent modernisations. Stable is late C17 or C18. Built of large coursed blocks of granite ashlar on massive boulder footings. Different building phases are apparent in the masonry, the earliest, it seems, of massive ashlar blocks. Some granite stone rubble patching and cob wall topping. Granite stacks, both with granite ashlar chimney shafts. Thatch roof some of it to the rear replaced by corrugated iron. The stable block is granite stone rubble with massive, roughly- shaped quoins and corrugated iron roof (formerly thatch).
Plan and development: This is a house with a long and complex structural history. The main block is a 3-room-and-through-passage plan Dartmoor longhouse built down the hillslope and facing south-south-east, say south. The inner room is terraced into the hillside at the left (west) end. Originally the house was open to the roof, divided by low partitions and heated by an open hearth fire. Maybe there was a full height crosswall this early on the lower side of the passage since there is no trace of smoke-blackening in the shippon roof. The house was progressively floored over and the chimney stacks were added in the later C16 and C17. The hall has an axial stack backing onto the passage and the inner room has a projecting gable end stack. There is a 1-room plan unheated rear block projecting at right angles to rear of the hall. The plan as it emerged in the late C17 had a parlour in the inner room and kitchen in the hall. The stair was in the rear block off the upper end of the hall. The rear block was probably a dairy, pantry and cider store. The upper end of the shippon is partitioned off from the rest but it is not clear at what date this happened. The stables were added in the late C17 or C18 projecting forwards at right angles from the right (eastern) end and slightly overlapping the end. The house is 2 storeys.
Exterior: Regular but not symmetrical 3-window front, all C17 granite windows with chamfered mullions; 4 lights with hoodmoulds to the ground floor and 3 lights to the first. They contain rectangular panes of leaded glass. The passage front doorway is left of centre. It is round-headed with a broad bead-moulded surround, lugged spandrels enriched with carved oak leaves. The labels of the hoodmould are carved with rosettes and immediately above is the datestone inscribed RT 1656. The studded plank door maybe that old. Alongside to right the cow door is a plainer version of the main one; round-headed with chamfered surround and plain hood. Right of this a flight of external stone steps to hayloft loading hatch, and right end is covered by the stables. The main roof is gable-ended to left and half-hipped to right. The right end (to the shippon) has a dung hatch and hayloft loading hatch over and a blocked drain hole. Each side wall includes blocked slit windows. The rear passage doorway is a rounded segmental arch with chamfered surround. The rear block is more rubbley than the main block. Its end wall contains 2 ground floor 2-light and 1 first floor 3-light C17 granite-mullioned windows, all containing C20 glass. The uphill side wall has a blocked stair window. The roof is half-hipped.
Good interior contains the work of all the main building phases and has had only superficial C19 and C20 modernisations since. The through-passage widens from front to back since the hall stack is not set at right angles to the side walls. Beyond the stack there is a timber-framed partition to the hall. It contains a C19 panelled door and is clad but there may be an oak plank-and-muntin screen here. The hall fireplace is probably late C16 - early C17. It is now blocked but is still intact and built of granite ashlar with chamfered lintel. The hall was floored in the C17. The crossbeam is soffit-chamfered, unstopped to front but with crude scroll derivative stops to rear. The granite rubble crosswall at the upper end of the hall contains a couple of cupboards; the oldest is very small with plain oak surround and door. The parlour beyond is larger than the hall. Here the fireplace is blocked by a late C19 - early C20 grate and the ceiling has been lowered so that no carpentry shows. There are a pair of C17 door-frames, both with chamfered surrounds and step stops, from the hall to the rear block; the left one still leads to the stairs but those there are now are C20. The first floor has plain carpentry and joinery detail. The shippon has not been brought into domestic use. Besides the external cow door there is also a doorway from the passage and it may be an original feature; built of oak it is a round-headed arch with chamfered surround and contains an old studded plank door. There is a secondary rubble crosswall near the upper end and what is left of the hayloft has plain carpentry detail. The drain does not show but the earth floor looks higher than it would have been. The main block roof structure is late C15 - early C16 end to end. A truss has been removed or embedded in the rubble crosswall at the upper end of the hall. At the inner room parlour end there is a hip cruck and over the hall a true raised cruck truss with soffit-chamfered cambered collar. There is a plainer version over the shippon. The shippon roof is clean but the rest is heavily smoke-blackened from the original open hearth fire, and this includes the purlins, common rafters, battens and underside of the original rye thatch. Rear block roofspace is inaccessible but the base of a C17 A-frame truss shows. The stable contains a pair of doorways with a small window to left and hayloft loading hatch over the right doorway, all containing plain C19 joinery, on the inner (west facing) side.
The roof is gable-ended and the end wall contains a drain hole, dung hatch, and at the top, an owl hole. Inside, the hayloft is carried on roughly- finished crossbeams. The roof is carried on A-frame trusses with pegged lap-jointed collars, the truss nearest the house of heavier scantling than the other. The rear passage door of the house leads out into a small service courtyard terraced into the hillslope, enclosed by a stone rubble wall and including a woodshed and pump house which contains a large granite trough. In front of the hall and inner room a small garden is also terraced into the hillside and it is enclosed by a low granite wall including a high proportion of squared blocks and with rounded ashlar coping along the right side. The space in front of the doorways (between the garden and stables) is laid with pitched cobbles.
Higher Shilstone is an outstanding Dartmoor longhouse. First of all it is very attractively sited and, like many of the older moorland houses, tucked tightly into the hillslopes. It also forms a group with its associated C17 farmbuildings. Secondly it is remarkable that such a modestly-sized farmhouse should consistently be built to such a high standard from its medieval roof to the 1656 front doorway. Moreover it has had only very superficial modernisations since the C17 and is therefore remarkably well-preserved. As early as 1935 R. H. Worth recognized the house as one of the finest surviving examples of the Dartmoor longhouse type. In short it is a house of national importance. Source. R. H. Worth The Dartmoor House. Trans. Plymouth. Inst. XVIII (1937) pp 34 -47
Listing NGR: SX6602590085

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 13/05/2022 (Website). SDV364039.

SHILSTONE Higher Shilstone Farmhouse, Grade I Listed Building including Shippen and adjoining stables to south-east. Description amended to read: Farmhouse, Shippen and adjoining stables.
Circa early C16 with circa later C16 alterations and remodelled and extended probably 1656. Dressed granite rubble, the centre part of front has large granite ashlar blocks. Thatched roof with gabled ends, the rear slope is clad in corrugated iron. Longhouse with hall, inner room, through-passage, and shippen and service wing at rear of hall. Circa late C16 loft was built over through-passage at lower end of hall. C17 axial stack and floor inserted in hall, eaves heightened, inner room and service wing added. Two storeys. Three window range. C17 hollow-chamfered granite mullion windows with hood moulds and iron frame casements with leaded panes, first floor of three-lights, ground floor four-lights with King mullions. To right of centre through-passage granite doorway with roll-moulded round arch with carved oak leaf or fern spandrels and hood mould with fleuron stops. Rear through-passage doorway has cambered chamfered arch. Separate shippen doorway to right of through-passage with chamfered round arch and hood mould without stops. External stone stairs to shippen loft doorway. Granite axial stack backing onto through passage and stack at higher end heating inner room. Unheated service wing at rear of hall with gable-ended thatched roof. Hollow- chamfered granite mullion windows at rear.
Interior: Smoked blackened two-bay hall roof has one cruck-truss (probably raised cruck) with apex yoke and cambered collar, the collar & cruck are chamfered. The original purlins, ridge-piece and all the rafters, thatch and ties survive and smoke-blackened in the roof space. The thick masonry wall at higher end of hall reaches apex and is smoke-blackened on hall side. It was probably the end wall before the inner room was added in C17, but this is conjectural because the roof over inner room is not accessible. Similar smoke-blackened masonry wall at lower side of through-passage separating house from shippen, is also original and has round-arched chamfered wooden doorway to shippen. Stack inserted through loft over passage from the other side of wide through passage. Loft bressumer is chamfered and fireplace has hollow-chamfered granite bressumer with rough granite jambs. Inserted hall ceiling has chamfered beam and similar in inner room. Pair of stop-chamfered wooden doorways to service wing from hall. Deeply chamfered ceiling beam in service wing with step stops.
Shippon retains its original smoke-blackened roof with raised cruck trusses, hip cruck and through purlins. Including stables at right angles at front of shippon. Cira C17/18, originally detached with hipped roof. Connected to shippon in circa C18 to form right angle wing at lower end. Corrugated iron gable-ended roof. Stable and loft doors. [DOE(HHR) Addition/Alteration to West Devon Dist (former Oakhampton RD), Devon Undated].

Sources / Further Reading

SDV162908Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1934 - 1938. The Dartmoor House. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 7. Unknown. 26, plate.
SDV231148Monograph: Worth, R. H.. 1953. Dartmoor. Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 412, plate 84a, figure 119..
SDV269870Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SX69SE34. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. Photograph included.
SDV269877Worksheet: Beacham, P.. 1984. Higher Shilstone Farm. Worksheet. Digital.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 805.
SDV336308Monograph: Mercer, E.. 1975. English Vernacular Houses. English Vernacular Houses. Unknown. 40.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 108.
SDV342839Article in Serial: Alexander, J. J.. 1940 - 1941. The Shilstons. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 21. Unknown. 25-30.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #99136 ]
SDV355683National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2014. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 13/05/2022.
SDV70295Article in Serial: Oliver, B. W.. 1949. The Devonshire Cottage. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 81. A5 Hardback. 40, plate 16, figure 4.

Associated Monuments

MDV22086Part of: Shilstone farmstead, Throwleigh (Monument)
MDV28064Related to: Barn, calf house and linhay at Shilstone, Throwleigh (Building)
MDV28065Related to: Dung pit at Shilstone farm, Throwleigh (Monument)
MDV106403Related to: Stables at Higher Shilstone, Throwleigh (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 13 2022 10:44AM