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HER Number:MDV8243
Name:Stiniel Cottage, Chagford


An almost perfect example of a late medieval house, despite being modernised. The entire medieval roof structure survives and is completely smoke-blackened indicating that the central hall was originally open to the roof with the fireplace, chimney and upper floor being improvements. The first floor room at the upper end of the house appears to be original or was inserted soon after the house was built. The front wall of the house is remarkable for the extrememely large size of some of the stones used in its construction.


Grid Reference:SX 706 855
Map Sheet:SX78NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78NW/14/4
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX78NW31

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (Built, XVI - 1501 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1932, The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two, 425 (Monograph). SDV337894.

Royal Air Force, 1961, RAF/58/4424, f 43 62 25 (Aerial Photograph). SDV288116.

Stiniel Cottage; one building in hamlet, at 259 metres OD. A long house is visible on aerial photographs.

Linehan, C. D., 1965, Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon, 172 (Article in Serial). SDV217992.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, Fig. 2 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

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

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

Stinhall Cottage including garage adjoining to east. House, former farmhouse. Probably early C16 with major C16 and C17 improvements, modernised circa 1970. Mostly built of large blocks of granite ashlar laid to courses with some granite rubble patching; granite stacks, 2 with their original ashlar chimney shafts; thatch roof.
Plan and development: 3-room-and-through-passage plan house built down hillside and facing north. The inner room at the right (western) end is terraced into the hillside. Originally an open hall house divided by low partitions and heated by an open hearth fire the house was progressively floored over with inserted fireplaces in the C16 and C17. The inner room is small and unheated and was probably the dairy before circa 1970. The master chamber above has an end stack (now disused). The hall has an axial stack backing onto the passage and there is an unusual stone staircase against the rear wall here. The service end room has an end stack and although the floor level is much lower than the passage there is no evidence of its former use as a shippon. Dr Alcock calls it a workshop possibly used for dyeing. The doorway through the end wall here may be secondary. Now 2 storeys.
Exterior: the house now has an irregular 3-window front of C20 casements with glazing bars. The front passage doorway is set left of centre. The ashlar blocks around are enormous and the lintel has a roll moulding along its soffit. It still contains a possibly original early C16 early oak doorframe; a 3-centred arch with chamfered surround. It contains a C20 plank door. Because of the ashlar masonry some evidence of the original fenestration can be seen. The tall hall window and small inner room window both have soffit-chamfered lintels; the top part of the former was blocked when the hall floor was inserted. Roof is now gable-ended to left and half-hipped to right. The rear elevation has fewer windows. The inner room chamber at the up hill end is a C17 granite 2-light window with chamfered mullion. Again the original inner room and hall windows show up in the ashlar walls, the former occupied by a window even smaller than the original and the latter blocked by the C17 stair. At the lower end is possibly a blocked slit window. The rear passage doorway contains a probably C17 oak doorframe; square-headed with chamfered surround. The south porch, too, is secondary. It has rubble walls topped with cob and has a monopitch roof carried down from the main roof. A granite trough projects from the left porch side wall with a window above it. In the lower end wall there is another doorway (maybe inserted) and now within the adjoining garage.
Good interior of a house with long and complex structural history. As the exterior shows that the shell of the original house is substantially intact. The roof structure too is wholly original. It is 4 bays with hip crucks each end. 2 appear to be side-pegged jointed crucks (whereas that at the uper end is a true cruck). All have slightly cranked collars, yoked apexes carrying a diagonal ridge (Alcock's apex type L1), and butt purlins.
The roof, from end to end including the common rafters and underside of the thatch, is smoke-blackened. This suggests that the early C16 house was all open to the roof, divided by low partitions, and heated by an open hearth fire. The granite ashlar ground floor partition rt the upper end of the hall may be original since it includes an oak doorframe similar to the front passage doorframe. Shortly afterwards, still in the first half of the C16, the lower end was floored. The beams and joists here were removed when the first floor level was raised in the C20. The screen along the lower side of the passage looks like a low partition screen but, since it includes 2 doorways together at the rear end, the smaller last one (with the door rebate onto the passage) must be considered a stair door and therefore associated with the flooring of this end. It is an oak plank-and-muntin screen with broad planks and chamfered muntins (the stops have worn away). Both doorways are shoulder-headed. The framed first floor partition is infilled with wattle and daub and is smoke-blackened on the hall side only. It is not clear what time the inner room/dairy end was floored over since the chamber was refurbished in the early C17 when the hall was floored. Alcock even argues that it might have been floored from the beginning since the first floor frame is pegged into the truss but admits that, if so, the frame must have been at least partly open to allow the hall fire to soot the roof rafters here. Before the hall was floored a fireplace was inserted against the passage. It is large, built of granite with a soffit-chamfered oak lintel. In the early C17 the hall was floored over and the inner room chamber refurbished. The hall crossbeam is soffit-chamfered with the remains of step stops. At the back of the hall new stairs were provided; they are built of granite, and although very tight, divide against the back wall to rise in both directions. The inner room chamber has a fireplace of this date; it is granite with an oak lintel and has a hollow-chamfered surround with roll stops. There is a niche in the wall alongside.
The garage extension at the lower end contains a pair of large plank double doors to front. It is rubble built with a thatched roof hipped at the end. It may once have been a shippon since there are slit windows at the end wall.
Stinhall Cottage is a very attractive house, even by Dartmoor standards, and also is important as an unusually complete late medieval house with an interesting development. Atcock suggests that the lower end room was some kind of workshop, maybe for dyeing, and using the ancient granite lined leat which still runs past the front of the house. Furthermore Stiniel is an exceptionally picturesque Dartmoor hamlet which also includes other important listed buildings such as Higher Stiniel (q.v.) and Stinhall (q.v.). The hamlet has attracted some historic interest since it is first recorded in 1224 as Stennenhalle which means hall of stone.

Alcock, N. W., c.1970-75, Stiniel. Chagford, 26-27 (Article in Serial). SDV257284.

Stenhall Cottage is described as an almost perfect example of a late medieval house, although it has been modernised, in more than one stage. The key evidence comes from the roof were the entire medieval structure survives complete with its common rafters and the lowest layers of thatch whose bundles of straw are tied to the rafters with twisted withey or reed ropes. The whole of the interior of the roof is smoke-blackened indicating that the building originally had an open fire in the central hall with the fireplace, chimney and upper floor being improvements. These alterations are also shown in the ashlar stonework of the front wall which clearly shows the blocking of the top part of a tall window to the hall. The front wall is remarkable for the size of some of the stones used in its construction. The porch, which is early but probably not original, is unusual in that it is over a door at the back of the house, probably for protection from south-westerly gales.
The first floor window at upper end of house appears to be original, suggesting an upper room existed, although there was no partition at the top of the roof to keep out the smoke of the hall; this was only achieved in the 17th century when a plaster ceiling was inserted. The ground floor room would probably have been a dairy and larder. Further evidence for the early existence of an upper room comes from the smaller of the two doorways in the stud and panel screen between the cross-passage and end room which opened into the passage which can only be because it gave access to a stair case. The lower room is too small to be a shippon in the normal long-house plan and also lacks the typical drain and ventilation slits

Sources / Further Reading

SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 172.
SDV257284Article in Serial: Alcock, N. W.. c.1970-75. Stiniel. Chagford. Devon Life. Photocopy. 26-27.
SDV288116Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. RAF/58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. f 43 62 25.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. Fig. 2.
SDV337894Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1932. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. IX. A5 Hardback. 425.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #108258 ]
SDV355683National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2014. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Website.

Associated Monuments

MDV33210Related to: Stable west of Stinhall Cottage, Chagford (Building)
MDV8242Related to: Stinhall farmhouse, Chagford (Building)
MDV77216Related to: Stinhall, Chagford (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 16 2018 4:18PM