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HER Number:MDV7814
Name:Abbey Farmhouse, Buckfast Abbey


South wing of the medieval abbey guesthouse built in the late 14th or 15th century. The building was converted to a domestic residence following the dissolution. It was restored to a medieval appearance in the early 1990s.


Grid Reference:SX 740 673
Map Sheet:SX76NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishBuckfastleigh
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKFASTLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1266782
  • National Monuments Record: SX76NW43
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76NW/24/6
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 392219
  • Old SAM Ref: 29672
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX76NW43
  • Pastscape: 1266782

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (XIV - 1301 AD to 1400 AD (Between))

Full description

Devon County Council, 14/12/1981, Development Plan Involving New Car Park and Visitor Facilities, Buckfast Abbey (Correspondence). SDV348524.

Probably 16th century. Relationship to Guest Hall unclear.

Copeland, G. W., 1955, Old Houses Viewed in 1954 by the Plymouth Branch, 378-9 (Article in Serial). SDV340913.

Abbey farmhouse at right angles and at south end of the Guest Hall. The farmhouse retains traces of a circular staircase in a slight projection in the front wall. Medieval features include an arch of 12th century character, a reconstructed fireplace and one or two other things.

Blair, W. J., 1981, Buckfast Abbey: Features of Architectural and Archaeological Interest (Report - Assessment). SDV348441.

Originally a Medieval chamber block or lodging, presumably entered from the south-east corner of original hall. Possibly dates to late 13/14th century and contemporary with alterations to south end of the hall.

Department of Environment, 1983, Buckfastleigh (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337043.

Listed are the farmhouse and adjoining outhouse to the North-west, wall to the west and garden boundary wall to the south-west. Farmhouse has circa 13th century remains and possibly was the dormitory wing to the guest hall. Stone rubble range at right-angles to road. Asbestos slate roof with two storeys and an attic. 19th century windows and gabled dormer. Stone rubble stack at ridge. Adjacent rubble wall to west with blocked doorway and window openings.

Department of Environment, 1985, Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh, 15/07/1985 (Photograph). SDV359974.

Two images taken and one of the garden boundary wall to the south-west.

Brown, S. W., 1988, Excavations and Building Recording at Buckfast Abbey, 55-65, Figs 29-32, Plates 2-3 (Article in Serial). SDV348443.

Surveyed by in 1982. Late Medieval addition to the 14th century guesthouse, formerly containing a large first-floor room above three service rooms. Rectangular plan measuring 18.8 metres by 7.4 metres. Principal walls of the Medieval building survive, but no internal partitions remain. Existing roof circa 1800. Five main phases of alteration were identified:.
Phase I in the 14th or 15th century. First floor room with possible cloakroom screened off at the west end. Elaborate fireplace. External stair. Seven bay roof with gable ends. Probably three service rooms on ground floor, each with door on south and window on north.
Phase II in the Later medieval. Insertion of door in west wall of 1st floor leading to external doorway or garderobe. Small extension block (1.5 metres wide internally) built out from the west side of building, probably pre-dissolution. Access at ground level.
Phase III in the Early Post-dissolution. Converted to self contained residence. West room of ground floor became kitchen, with access to courtyard. Winding stairs inserted in south wall recesses, one of which extends upwards to join that of the Medieval 1st floor fireplace, and may have extended into roof space. The other provided access from kitchen to room above. Upper room probably divided into two rooms, each with separate stair, perhaps dining room and parlour. Fireplace and stack inserted in east wall. Medieval floor of upper storey removed and replaced at slightly lower level.
Phase IV in the Late 16th or 17th century. New fireplace and stack built into west gable wall, probably replacing that on the south, which went out of use by 1800.
Phase V around 1800. Building renovated . Present roof and internal arrangements almost wholly date from this period, as does central stack with back-to-back fireplaces on the three existing floors. Side walls raised. Fenestration changed to give southerly aspect. Byre with hay loft above added to the north.
Phase VI in the later 19th century. West end rearranged. Kitchen moved to lean-to erected within adjoining ruins of Medieval guesthouse. Upper west room subdivided. Lean-to to north rebuilt and extended. A raised metalled trackway leading west from the farm, across Abbey Meadow, was located by excavation and dated to the 19th century.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 225 (Monograph). SDV325629.

A wing was added at right angles to the southern end of the guest house in the 14th or 15th century which was formerly a large heated first floor room above three ground florr store rooms. After the dissolution it was converted to a farmhouse with restoration planned in 1987.

Beverley, S. M. + Nenk, S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M., 1992, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1991, 207-8, Fig 2 (Article in Serial). SDV58456.

Rescue excavation and building recording in 1991 confirmed Abbey Farm as a Late Medieval addition to the 14th century guest house. Traces of earlier stone structures, drains and a possible yard wall lay beneath the building.

Brown, S., 1998, DAS newsletter; Unknown article title, 5 (Article in Serial). SDV364123.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2000, Buckfast Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV348444.

The Abbot's Guest Hall, known as Abbey Farm after its later period of use, survives as an adapted structure with all four of its Medieval walls standing to nearly full height. It was a 15th century addition to the guesthouse suite standing almost at right angles to it and it has been shown in archaeological excavations to be overlying earlier remains including 12th century drainage channels. Abbey Farm is a Listed building Grade II.

National Monuments Record, 2001, 1266782 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV294799.

Saxon and Mediaeval Benedictine Abbey, later Cistercian. Limited excavations were undertaken by the monks in 1882 which recovered most of the plan of the Medieval monastery, demonstrating that it was a normal plan for a Cistercian house. Rescue excavations were undetaken in 1982 and 1983 on the site of the Guest House to the West of the Abbey complex, and showed that two buildings of 12th century date were replaced in the 14th century by a single great hall, to which an east wing was added in the late Medieval period. Parts of this are incorporated in a farmhouse and it is hoped that the remaining standing Medieval structures will be conserved and consolidated.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Buckfast Abbey Farmhouse formerly Listed on 10th January 1951 as Buckfast Abbey Farmhouse and adjacent outhouse to the north-west, wall to west and garden wall to the south-west. Wing added to the abbey guest house in the late 14th or early 15th century with later alterations, in course of major refurbishment and reconstruction at time of survey (1992). Local grey limestone rubble; 1990s slate roof, gabled at ends with very steep pitch (based on archaeological evidence); stack with stone rubble shaft.
Plan: the wing projects at right-angles to the guest house, to its south east. It consisted of probable store or service rooms on the ground floor with a heated first-floor 7-bay hall reached by external steps on the south side. Probably converted into a farmhouse after the Dissolution.
Exterior: two-window south front with projecting lateral stack to right of centre with 20th century reconstructed arched doorway to right. Double flight of reconstructed stairs to first-floor entrance on south side, two first floor 20th century reconstructed windows. North side has reconstructed openings: doorway to ground-floor right with windows alongside to left; three reconstructed first-floor windows. 20th century timber garderobe on west end, the position of an earlier garderobe.
Interior: eight reconstructed arch braced trusses of 1991.

Brown, S., 2012, Buckfast Abbey. Desk-based Archaeological and Historic Building Assessment of South Wing of Medieval Guesthouse and Adjacent Area (Report - Assessment). SDV351038.

The standing structure of the south wing of the medieval guesthouse was recorded in 1984 and the interior excavated in 1991. The archaeological work identified six phases of development spanning the period from the late 14th or 15th century, when the building was constructed as an addition to the abbey's guesthouse, to the later 19th century, by which time it was in use as a farmhouse. Originally the wing provided cellar space for storage on its ground floor with a first floor hall above. The building was converted to a domestic residence following the dissolution. Nothing of the external stair survived above ground level but excavation showed that a stone porch-like structure here had been adapted for use as a fireplace in the early post-medieval period. An archaeological reconstruction drawing produced in 1988 (fig 4) was followed in large measure when the building was restored to its medieval appearance in the early 1990s. Excavations to the west of the standing building amongst the standing ruins of the early 14th century guesthouse and to the south-west in an open area now occupied by the coach and car park uncovered part of a medieval stone building interpreted as a detached kitchen belonging to the guest house.

Historic England, 2017, Application for Scheduled Monument Consent Buckfast Abbey (Correspondence). SDV360243.

Consent granted to conversion the West Gateshop to exhibition space relocating shop in former toilets. Conversion of upper floor in former shippon to visitor toilets.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV294799National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2001. 1266782. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 225.
SDV337043List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1983. Buckfastleigh. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound.
SDV340913Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1955. Old Houses Viewed in 1954 by the Plymouth Branch. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 378-9.
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV348441Report - Assessment: Blair, W. J.. 1981. Buckfast Abbey: Features of Architectural and Archaeological Interest. Unknown.
SDV348443Article in Serial: Brown, S. W.. 1988. Excavations and Building Recording at Buckfast Abbey. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 55-65, Figs 29-32, Plates 2-3.
SDV348444Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2000. Buckfast Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. Website.
SDV348524Correspondence: Devon County Council. 14/12/1981. Development Plan Involving New Car Park and Visitor Facilities, Buckfast Abbey. Memo to Dartmoor National Park. Letter.
SDV351038Report - Assessment: Brown, S.. 2012. Buckfast Abbey. Desk-based Archaeological and Historic Building Assessment of South Wing of Medieval Guesthouse and Adjacent Area. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Bound.
SDV359974Photograph: Department of Environment. 1985. Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh. Photograph (Paper). 15/07/1985.
SDV360243Correspondence: Historic England. 2017. Application for Scheduled Monument Consent Buckfast Abbey. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Digital.
SDV58456Article in Serial: Beverley, S. M. + Nenk, S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M.. 1992. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1991. Medieval Archaeology. 36. PDF. 207-8, Fig 2.

Associated Monuments

MDV103755Related to: Abbey Guesthouse Kitchen, Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7809Related to: Abbots Tower at Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7808Related to: Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV20062Related to: Buckfast Abbey Guesthouse (Building)
MDV103753Related to: Cottage to south of Buckfast Abbey Guesthouse (Building)
MDV20064Related to: St Mary's Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8564 - Excavations at Buckfast Abbey; the Abbey Farm, the South Gate and North Gate (Ref: 558)

Date Last Edited:Feb 9 2021 11:10AM