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HER Number:MDV80936
Name:Woodside Cottage, South-West of Monument Farm


Woodside Cottage, south-west of Monument Farm. Visible on Ordnance Survey 1880s-1890s First Edition Map.


Grid Reference:ST 134 167
Map Sheet:ST11NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHemyock
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHEMYOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 1404655

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (XVI to XVIII - 1600 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

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

Building is visible, divided into three.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Building is visible, divided into three, the north elevation appears extended compared to the earlier map.

English Heritage, 2010 - 2011, Hemyock (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV348531.

Woodside has lain empty for over twenty years. Work has recently been undertaken to stabilise the building but the future of the property is uncertain. There is no current planning application relating to the building. The house and its associated structures are in Devon, but the county boundary with Somerset runs east-west immediately to the north of the buildings. The road entrances are therefore in Somerset, and the property has a Somerset postcode. The property lies within the Blackdown Hills AONB.

COMMENT: The owner contradicts the suggestion made by the adviser that the roof may have been raised by half a storey, the walls having been heightened with cob. It is observed that many older stone buildings in the area are capped with a ring of cob to provide a more workable surface for the fixing of room timbers. The correspondent expresses the opinion that it would otherwise not have been possible to affix the timber roof structure in a chert building of this age, given the hardness of the stone, and the softness of the lime mortar. In addition, it is observed that the original beams that rest on the fireplace bressumers are notched to carry joists for the upstairs rooms

RESPONSE: The suggestion that the roof had been raised was not based only on the change in building materials, but also on the fact that the profile of what may be the redundant half-hip remains visible in both gable ends of the building. The adviser fully acknowledges that it has traditionally been common practice in Devon to use cob on top of stone walls to facilitate the bedding-in of roof carpentry, though often this consists of only a relatively shallow application of cob. In many chert buildings cob is not used for fixing the roof timbers, though clearly the cob performs this function in the building under consideration. Cob has also historically been used to raise the height of stone walls and, after seeking expert opinion, the adviser concluded that the high band of cob which is a feature of this building might be the result of the walls having been raised. It has not been suggested that the floor was inserted as part of this possible later phase, but rather that the roof may have been raised by half a storey above the existing floor. The proposed list description has been amended to give a fuller account of this aspect of the building, and to give due weight to the alternative interpretations.

The owner notes that the building is described as 'formerly thatched', claiming that half of the main building is still thatched beneath the corrugated iron, with the original thatching spars.

RESPONSE: It was not possible, during the site visit, to inspect the east end of the roof fully, and the adviser formed the impression that whilst some thatching materials remained, the majority of the historic roof covering had been lost. It is agreed that it would in fact be accurate and correct to note that some thatch does remain, and the description has been amended accordingly.

COMMENT: The owner draws attention to the observation, in the description, that during the reconstruction of the front elevation the 19th centuy brick porch was not re-built, commenting that the remains of the porch were fragmentary, and were not tied into the original building.

RESPONSE: The description notes that the porch had almost entirely collapsed, and there is no suggestion in the report that the structure was an integral part of the fabric. However, in considering a case where such a significant part of the building as the front elevation has been reconstructed, it is important to be precise in identifying the nature and extent of that reconstruction -this point is discussed further in the Assessment. Since this feature has now gone, and never contributed to the special historical or architectural interest of the building, the reference has been omitted from the proposed list description.

As a 17th century farmhouse of modest size, though certainly not built to accommodate people of the lowest rank - the survival of the building is of interest. This interest is greatly increased by the fact that the major portion of the house remains as it was at the first phase of building, the principal elements of the construction being clearly legible, without the overlay of later features. The building has a lobby-entry plan with a central stack - this form has frequently been vulnerable to alteration, as domestic requirements have changed, and this
intact example is of value, particularly since lobby-entry houses are rare in Devon and the South West, by comparison with other parts of the country, particularly eastern England. At Woodside, the two ground-floor rooms have matching scroll-stopped axial beams set into the fireplace bressumers; these carvings to the beams are a significant decorative survival, as well as providing a clear indication that the layout of the two rooms with the ceilings and central stack remains as it was in the 17th century. The Selection Guide particularly notes
that 'Where plan-form survives or remains intelligible, especially where it is unusual, this may be sufficient to give the special interest required for designation even if the building's exterior is compromised', and it is considered that this is the case at Woodside. As has been indicated, it is almost inevitable that a house of this age will have been through some change, and Woodside has seen alterations of varying degrees of significance. The suggestion that the roof may have been raised to provide more spacious accommodation on the first floor has been challenged but we maintain that the evidence suggests the possibility of this change having been made, but the age and idiosyncrasies of a particular building will sometimes make it difficult to resolve questions of this kind with certainty. Whilst the question of whether or not the roof has been raised is an important one for the history of the building, it does not affect the outcome of the assessment for listing. In a building of this age, which is otherwise of sufficient interest, an historic change of this kind will not significantly detract from the case for designation, and may indeed be of interest in itself. The roof structure itself is incomplete, but retains some pegged timbers providing evidence of the historic construction. The chimney stack has been partially re-built in brick at ground-floor level, presumably owing to the deterioration of the original materials. A 19th century timber stair is thought to replace an earlier arrangement in the same position. In addition, changes have been made to the openings in the north and east elevations, in response to changing requirements. Whilst each of these changes is worthy of note, each is also of interest in tracing the development of the building. The reconstruction of the front elevation clearly represents a major change to the building, and cannot easily, one year after the event, be regarded as historic. However, it is not uncommon for houses to undergo a complete re-fronting at some time in their histories, and many listed houses dating from the 17th century have later façades. The radical repair undertaken at Woodside reproduces the features of the original elevation almost exactly as they were found in the early 21th century, and the facing reuses the original chert (without the lime render), so that the external character of the building is maintained, though the use of concrete blocks in the construction of the wall is at odds with the historic fabric of the building. There is no evidence that the frontage ever boasted noteworthy architectural features, so the replacement of this elevation is not of such fundamental significance as it would be in a building where interest was concentrated in external architectural distinction. In this building, the special interest of which lies principally in a noteworthy and intact plan-form, the side elevations, which were tied to the central stack by the original axial beams, are arguably of equal importance with the front elevation. The replaced frontage in no way mars the legibility of the significant historic fabric it precedes, and indeed, will help to protect what is at present a vulnerable structure.

CONCLUSION: Overall, despite the recent rebuilding of the front elevation, it is concluded that Woodside, an unusual survival of a modest 17th century Devon lobby-entry house, retains significant fabric clearly illustrative of its form and construction. After examining all the records and other relevant information and having carefully considered the architectural and historic interest of this case, the criteria for listing are fulfilled. Woodside is therefore recommended for listing at Grade II.

HISTORY: The building now known as Woodside is thought to have originated as the dwelling house of a small farmstead. The house appears to date from the second half of the 17th century, though it is not possible to be precise about the phasing and development of the structure. It is thought possible that at some stage the roof may have been raised by half a storey, providing more spacious accommodation on the first floor. At some time between the production of the 1843 tithe map and the 1889 first edition Ordnance Survey map, an agricultural barn or shed was erected against the west elevation of the house; this partially survives. During the same period, service rooms or sheds, now ruinous appeared against the rear wall. Two further structures were erected to the north-west; one, a former cartshed, still remains, though altered. By the early 21st century, the house had become seriously dilapidated, and in 2010 the south (front) elevation was largely rebuilt.

PLAN: The original building has a rectangular footprint, with a 19th century barn or shed attached to the west, and ruinous 19th century outbuildings attached along the north elevation. Internally, the house has a lobby-entry plan, with a central stack serving two ground-floor rooms, one to west and the other to east.

MATERIALS: Constructed of chert rubble, the upper parts are of cob, possibly the result of the building having been raised by half a storey, though the cob may simply have been used to facilitate the bedding-in of the roof carpentry. The roof of the house was formerly thatched, and at the time of the inspection some thatch remained to the east end of the building, covered by corrugated iron sheeting which extends to shelter the attached western agricultural shed. The house's A-frame roof structure retains some historic pegged oak
timbers but has been subject to considerable adaptation.

EXTERIOR: The south-facing two-storey building has a symmetrical two-window front with a central doorway. In 2010 this elevation was rebuilt, apart from a small section at the eastern end, including part of the eastern ground-floor window -which retains a lime render. The rebuilding followed very precisely the pattern which then existed, and the facing re-uses the original chert, though the cob top has not been reproduced; the wall is lined internally with concrete blocks. The doorway has a segmental-arched head. The ground-floor window
openings formerly held three-light timber mullioned windows; the window openings had no frames at the time of the inspection. The blind west gable end stops short of the apex, indicating that the roof here, as at the east end, was once half-hipped. This wall is now obscured by the 19th century agricultural shed, which has a tall opening to the south, flanked by broad buttresses of later construction. The west and north walls of the shed have largely disintegrated, and are now clad in corrugated iron sheeting. The north elevation of the house has a doorway towards the west end; the opening has a timber lintel, and has been reinforced with brick. Beside it to the west, a window opening with a timber lintel, and above this, a 20th century window opening with a rough brick surround, now blocked. The east elevation contains a small ground-floor window, towards the rear of the building; this opening has been reduced in size. The central stack has been lost above roof level.

INTERIOR: The interior is dominated by the large central chimney stack. Any internal partitions which previously existed have been lost. In the 19th century, the southern section of the stack was re-built in brick to either side of the central wall, and the fireplaces were given brick cheeks. Each fireplace has a framed chamfered oak surround; the outer face of the lintel in the western room is decayed, but a chamfer is visible to the inside, suggesting that the timber has been re-used. The termination of the chimney stack leaves an alcove to the north of each fireplace: to west, this now contains a 19th century cupboard; to east, the alcove houses a side oven, opening from the fireplace, and now lined with brick. This fireplace has been reduced in depth to contain a Victorian range. The remains of a winder stair, thought to date from the 19th century, occupies the north-west corner of this room, and rises above the side oven, probably replacing an earlier arrangement in the same position. Each room is spanned by an axial beam, resting on the fireplace lintel, placed to support the upper floor. These beams are chamfered, with scroll stops, consistent with a mid-to late-17th century date, which respect the fireplace openings. In the eastern room, the eastern end of the beam has been cut, removing any evidence of stops, whilst in the western room the mouldings of the beams have largely been destroyed by rot, though the shape of the stops can be identified at the eastern end. There is a small recess in the end wall of the eastern room. The ceiling remains over the eastern room, but has largely collapsed over the western room. The upper rooms were not inspected, but these were unheated and are understood to be without significant historic details, though the 19th century boarded doors giving access to the rooms from the top of the staircase do survive. Map object based on this Source.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Building still divided in three. No change when comparing footprint of house to Ordnance Survey 1904-06 map. Map object based on this Source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV348531List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2010 - 2011. Hemyock. Additions and Amendments to Checklist. A4 Stapled.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5679 - Survey of Woodside Cottage, South-West of Monument Farm

Date Last Edited:Nov 28 2011 11:52AM