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HER Number:MDV845
Name:The Three Tuns, 80 High Street, Barnstaple


Former house and shop now a public house. Originally built circa 1600 and completely renovated in 1946. The interior contains a mixture of original and 1946 features.


Grid Reference:SS 557 332
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/64
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 485627
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE55

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • INN (XVI to Mid 20th Century - 1600 AD to 1946 AD)

Full description

Wood, J., 1843, Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey (Cartographic). SDV91852.

Three Tuns shown on a plan of Barnstaple dated 1843.

Harper, S., 1917, The History of the Drama in Barnstaple, 421 (Article in Serial). SDV349385.

Oliver, B. W., 1948, The Three Tuns, Barnstaple, 147-158 (Article in Serial). SDV350521.

The Three Tuns inn, High Street situated immediately opposite the guildhall. It was the house of a Barnstaple merchant, erected not later than mid 15th century. The earliest reference to the building as a licensed house is in the poor rate of 1704. History of ownership given. Main structural outlines remain unaltered despite many internal alterations and the replacement of the roof. Features include a 15th century and a late 16th century fireplace and an old cloam oven. Outbuildings said to be Elizabethan.

Lomas, J., 1967, The Old doors and Doorways of Barnstaple, 42 (Article in Serial). SDV85818.

Visited approximately 1965. This is a medieval merchant's house backing onto Paige's Lane. The door is interesting but not original. Architraves are early but not original, and the door was brought from Croyde in 1947.

Department of Environment, 1973, Barnstaple, 34 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV89941.

Devon County Council, 1975, Barnstaple Town Trail, 17 (Article in Monograph). SDV352446.

Timms, S. C., 1976, The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft, 74 (Report - Survey). SDV341346.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 113 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Short curved feet cruck recorded.

Rance, C. + Weddell, P. J., 1994, An Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Marks and Spencer Development in Holland Street and Paiges Lane, Barnstaple, 6 (Report - Assessment). SDV82149.

Gillard, M. + Green, T. + Laing-Trengove, D. + Walls, S., 2010, The Three Tuns High Street Barnstaple: Results of a Desk Based Assessment, Historic Building Recording and Archaeological Watching Brief, 32-33 (Report - non-specific). SDV347670.

The building survey identified five main phases of construction. In the early 16th century, a three storey town house consisting of a shop/merchant's house was connected to a back block by a first floor gallery. Only the first floor of the front block was heated. In the late 16th century a large chimney stack was inserted on the north side of the front block, heating the rear room of the front block on the ground floor. A large fireplace was also inserted in the back block at around the same time. In the 19th century the street frontage was remodelled, as was the back wall of the front block, which is likely to have coincided with the insertion of a replacement staircase in a very similar position to the original stairs. Bruce Oliver's restorations in 1946 included the addition of many 'antique' elements, most notably in remodelling the street frontage in a 17th century style. The changes also included raising the roof level, and thereby removing all traces of the older roof structure. Considerable remodelling has continued throughout the latter part of the 20th century, with the 19th century staircase removed from the rear room in the front block, and several concrete block partitions constructed to create toilet facilities on the ground and first floors. The western end of the back block was also reconstructed during this phase. The watching brief revealed what was probably the original 16th century west wall of the back block, marking the rear of the burgage plot. A cobbled surface was also exposed, which appeared to be later than the 16th century fireplace. See report for full details.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

Three Tuns Inn. House and shop, now public house. Circa 1600. Thoroughly renovated by Bruce Oliver in 1946. Timber-framed front above stone rubble base; natural slate roof, hipped at end; right end stack with handmade brick shaft. Gallery and back block plan with entrance to the left and gallery over the right; courtyard filled in. 3 storeys and attic. Front elevation mostly 1946 by Oliver, in a 17th century manner, the second floor jettied; windows glazed with leaded panes. 5-light oak mullioned ground-floor window with Tudor arched lights; chamfered doorway to left appears to be partly original. First-floor oriel on timber brackets with a hipped slate roof and oak moulded mullioned and transomed windows, 4 lights to the centre and one to each return. Two 2-light shallow second-floor oriels on brackets. Roof hipped to front with over-sized gabled dormer, the gable and sides slate-hung; 4-light casement window. INTERIOR: mixture of original and 1946 features. Several door frames and doors are probably Oliver's, as well as the simple 17th century-style stair to the first floor, which rises rear of the courtyard from the back block. Ground floor has 4 step-stopped chamfered cross beams and exposed joists. Front fireplace on right-hand wall is 20th century; rear fireplace has a chamfered step-stopped lintel and bread oven. Joisting of passage survives on ground floor. First-floor front room has 4 moulded cross beams, probably 1940s, with scroll stops with carved leaves. Front fireplace appears to be original with a cranked lintel. Rear fireplace renovated but preserves one hollow-chamfered jamb and a moulded corbel, moulded timber lintel with carved leaf stops. 17th century wall panelling with evidence of re-cycling. Gallery timber-framed to the courtyard. The trusses supporting gallery roof have been altered, with one collar removed; restored 6-light ovolo-moulded mullioned window overlooking courtyard from gallery. Small section of 17th century timber balustrade to stair up to second-floor room, which was not seen on survey. Roof not seen on survey but likely to be of interest. In spite of the extensive reconstruction work, this is a fine example of a 17th century urban house where the gallery and back block arrangement is still legible. Date listed: 19th January 1951.

Southwest Archaeology, 2013, Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database, Mapping Area 2007 (Un-published). SDV351581.

Pink, F., 2014, Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions, 1 (Report - non-specific). SDV357343.

Part of a wall believed to be 16th century in date, marking the rear of a burgage plot, was exposed during the excavation at The Three Tuns, High Street, along with part of an undated cobbled floor surface.

Cramp, C., 2015, North Devon Relief-Decorated Ceramics in the Household, 202, 208 (Article in Monograph). SDV365391.

The building, documented from the 16th century and an inn since at least 1704, was thoroughly recorded prior to renovation in 1946 by Oliver. Until recently, one whole and one broken floor tile were displayed there alongside old shoes found during renovation. They too probably come from the building. The upper surfaces of the tiles had been work away; it was impossible to tell whether they had been relief-decorated.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SS53SE55 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV76917.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV341346Report - Survey: Timms, S. C.. 1976. The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. A4 Unbound + Digital. 74.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 113.
SDV347670Report - non-specific: Gillard, M. + Green, T. + Laing-Trengove, D. + Walls, S.. 2010. The Three Tuns High Street Barnstaple: Results of a Desk Based Assessment, Historic Building Recording and Archaeological Watching Brief. Southwest Archaeology Report. 110531. A4 Stapled + Digital. 32-33.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108493 ]
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV349385Article in Serial: Harper, S.. 1917. The History of the Drama in Barnstaple. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 49. A5 Hardback. 421.
SDV350521Article in Serial: Oliver, B. W.. 1948. The Three Tuns, Barnstaple. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 80. A5 Hardback. 147-158.
SDV351581Un-published: Southwest Archaeology. 2013. Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database. Greater Barnstaple Area Project. Digital. Mapping Area 2007.
SDV352446Article in Monograph: Devon County Council. 1975. Barnstaple Town Trail. Devon Town Trails: European Architectural Heritage Year. Paperback Volume. 17.
SDV357343Report - non-specific: Pink, F.. 2014. Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions. AC Archaeology Report. ACD473/1/1. Digital. 1.
SDV365391Article in Monograph: Cramp, C.. 2015. North Devon Relief-Decorated Ceramics in the Household. West Country Households 1500-1700. Hardback Volume. 202, 208.
SDV76917Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SS53SE55. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card.
SDV82149Report - Assessment: Rance, C. + Weddell, P. J.. 1994. An Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Marks and Spencer Development in Holland Street and Paiges Lane, Barnstaple. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 94.04. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6.
SDV85818Article in Serial: Lomas, J.. 1967. The Old doors and Doorways of Barnstaple. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 99. Paperback Volume. 42.
SDV89941List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1973. Barnstaple. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 34.
SDV91852Cartographic: Wood, J.. 1843. Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey. Map + Digital.
Linked images:1

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5229 - Historic Building Recording at The Three Tuns, Barnstaple
  • EDV5230 - Watching Brief at The Three Tuns, Barnstaple

Date Last Edited:Mar 29 2023 1:49PM