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HER Number:MDV8542
Name:5 Higher Street, Dartmouth


Merchant's house with shop, main house of circa 1635, but parts of rear may be earlier. Timber-framed front with stone rubble rear and side walls. This was an exceptionally well preserved high-quality merchant's house but was damaged by fire in May 2010.


Grid Reference:SX 877 512
Map Sheet:SX85SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishDartmouth
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishST.SAVIOURS

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85SE/22
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 387268
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX85SE27

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HOUSE (Built, XVII - 1601 AD to 1700 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX85SE27 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV341021.

A house stood on the site from the 14th century probably built by Roger de Pole who was the Mayor in 1352. The present house was most likely built by one of the merchants who rebuilt St Saviour's in 1631-7.

Watkin, H. R., 1935, Dartmouth:1, Pre-Reformation, 89,199 (Article in Serial). SDV340977.

Ministry of Works, 1948, 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth (Schedule Document). SDV341019.

Timber house circa 1600. Three storeys with attics in gables. Ground floor front is circa 100 years old.

O'Neil, B. H. St J. + Russell, P., 1951, The Old House Known as Number Five Higher Street, Dartmouth, 267-271; figures 1-2; Plates 11-12 (Article in Serial). SDV341016.

Tudor House at 5, Higher Street, Dartmouth, built circa 1600. Three storeys high, with attics in the gables. Ground floor front only circa 100 years old. First floor has oriel of ten lights five corbels. Second floor, carried on a carved bressumer, has two oriels on three corbels, each of four lights. Carved large boards and large corbels to carry their ends. Second floor front has exposed timber with moulding and plaster infilling. Side walls of rubble. Interior unseen but empty house repaired just before the war. House on the site since the 13th century and acquired in 1928 by the Dartmouth Corporation for preservation. Back part was already destroyed and this was not restored. It belonged to an earlier medieval house with a central chimney stack and pole-staircase (retained) in the middle of the north wall. Front built in 1635. Facade intact and of original work, except the bargeboards and a shop front erected in 1948 to replace an undistinguished 19th century shop front. 17th century plank partition borders passage of the original entrance at the north end of the facade (new door 1948). Ceiling beam only original feature in ground floor room front. Pole-stair was a few feet east of chimney stack; staircase window preserved. Door and doorway of first floor front room have some original 17th century carved work. Small fireplace with ovolo-moulded head, ceiling beam, enriched plaster decoration with moulded cornice-geometrical design of moulded ribs with foliated finials with 'sea horses' and enclosing roselles, leaves and cherubs. Second floor; each room has a fireplace with ovolo-moulded lintel. Good 17th century partition of wood, ovolo-moulded, between the two rooms.

French, K. + French, C., 1957, Devonshire Plasterwork, 129 (Article in Serial). SDV4676.

Russell, P. + Everett, A. W., 1959, The Old House Known as Number Thirteen Higher Street, Dartmouth (Article in Serial). SDV341032.

Numbers Five and Three Higher Street are in good order. Number Five is an ornate building of 1635 and Number Three has also been restored to show typical 'black and white' work so that the northern end of the old street has "quite a seemly look about it".

Department of Environment, 1972, Dartmouth, 25 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV155627.

Probably early 17th century, sometimes called Shambles House. Very fine 4-storey gabled timber front with corbelled stone side walls. 10-light oriel at first floor, 2 4-light oriels at second floor all with carved posts and brackets. Some original lead glazing. Timbering moulded and exposed except in gable, which is slate hung. Slate roof, brick chimneys. Later shop. Interior: circular newel stair. First floor front room has incomplete plaster ceiling of carved doorcase. Acquired by Ministry of National Insurance in 1948.

Devon County Council, 1975, Dartmouth - Walk about in the Conservation Area & Exploring Dartmouth and Kingswear, 37 (Article in Monograph). SDV352452.

Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV345762.

Smart, I. H., 1991, The Many Ancient Guildhalls of Dartmouth (Article in Serial). SDV340290.

Restored in 1871 by Capt Ridgeway, Mayor of Dartmouth, who installed the Mayor's chair, carved wall panelling and a 15th century plaster overmantel panel bearing the Borough Arms. These were purchased in a scale of materials from the nearby Hawley's Guildhall.

Department of National Heritage, 1994, Dartmouth (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV157498.

Formerly Listed as Tudor House. Merchant's house with shop. Medieval site. Main house of circa 1635 but parts of rear may be earlier; major repair programme circa 1960. Mixed construction; timber-framed front with stone rubble rear and side walls; stone stacks to front side walls with circa 1960 brick chimney shafts; slate roof. Plan: Built end onto the street, house is 3 rooms deep divided by stone crosswalls. Newel stair in an alcove in the north side wall in the narrow centre section behind a side passage through the front part. Exterior: Front is 3 storeys with attics in the roofspace, middle section is 2 storeys and rear part is single storey. Well preserved one-bay ornamental front, jettied with ends of the side walls corbelled out at each floor and gabled roof. Ground floor is a 20th century shop front, probably a repair of the 19th century one. Uneven bays with side passage door recessed at left end, 2 steps to 20th century plank door and plain overlight. Shop doorway recessed right of centre, 20th century glazed door with overlight. Shop windows with glazing bars and brick ventilators below. 17th century moulded small-panel framing to first and second floors. Windows are mostly original, mullioned, reglazed with iron casements and containing diamond panes of leaded glass (reusing a good number of old panes). First floor has continuous range of windows with splendid wide central oriel, 5:5 front lights with king mullion, corner posts and second-floor fascia board richly carved. Oriel on 5 brackets carved mostly as fabulous beasts. 2 second-floor oriels are smaller versions with 4 forward lights and share a slated lean-to roof. Attic storey not jettied and it is slate-hung containing a central 3-light casement. Gabled roof, with old probably-original carved bargeboards, projects forward and is supported on carved oak brackets resting against the party walls. Roof steps down to the middle room and again to the rear section which includes various 19th and 20th century windows. Interior: Front part is wholly 17th century and very well-preserved. Ground floor spanned by plain-chamfered crossbeam. Side passage lined by moulded plank-and-muntin screen but original doorcase contains late 20th century door. 20th century stair to first floor. Front principal parlour has plastered crossbeam with 20th century partition below. Original ornamental plaster ceiling, single rib pattern enriched with large angle sprays and cherub heads. Fireplace has oak lintel, moulded with low Tudor arch (2 smaller versions on second floor). Newel stair to second floor rising round mast-like post. 2 second-floor front chambers divided by axial scratch-moulded plank-and-muntin screen and each with fireplace. 3-bay roof of A-frame trusses with pegged dovetail-shaped lap-jointed collars and butt purlins. Stair to attic within the front block. Apart from the newel stair and a 19th century door with 17th century carved frieze reset against a wall, nothing of antiquity shows in the rear parts although the walls are very thick. Roofs here are inaccessible and ceilings are plastered. An exceptionally well preserved high-quality merchant's house.

Department of Environment, 1997, 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth (Schedule Document). SDV341020.

Monument DV 227 descheduled under No 90127.

Ordnance Survey, 2008, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV340009.

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, 2011, The Listed Buildings in Dartmouth Affected by the Fire of 28th May 2010 (Report - Assessment). SDV351999.

Until the fire in May 2010 No. 5 was a particularly well-preserved example of a 17th century merchants house with superior carved decoration on the front and original detail in side. It was built end onto the street, two rooms deep with a side passage, three storeys high with attics in the roofspace and basement below. It was restored in 1928 and again in 1949 following minor bomb damage. It appears, however, that only the front part of the house was new-built in the first half of the 17th century retaining elements of an older medieval house behind including the stair and chimneystack. The front of the ground floor was probably a shop and was unheated but the rear room had a fireplace in the south wall. The principal room, as is usual in town houses, was the front one on the first floor. It has a 17th century fireplace in the south wall Before the fire this was a very impressive room with a splendid original ornamental plaster ceiling. Photos show this to have had an overall geometric design of single moulded ribs, based on square panels with radiating lobes and semicircles. The principal patterns centred on four leaf motifs with the inner square using cherub's heads on the corners and the lobes finished with elaborate cast angle-sprays. The ceiling was taken down and removed to store in 2011. It is an important example of 1630s plasterwork from the Dart Valley workshop and bears comparison with other 17th century ornamental plasterwork in Dartmouth, Newton Abbot and Totnes. Above were two chambers divided by an axial screen each with a fireplace in the masonry of the party walls. The attic level and roof was largely destroyed in the fire.
The fine timber-framed front is set between the ends of the slatestone rubble sidewalls which corbel out to accommodate the jettied first and second floors. The ground floor level was apparently rebuilt in 1948 following minor bomb damage. The rear elevation was destroyed in the May 2010 fire but it is understood to have been a 20th century rebuild. The basement is now separate from the house and was modernised circa 1970.
Prior to the fire the house had two timber stud and panel partitions (plank and muntin screens), one on the ground floor separating the side passage from the main shop and the other separating the two second floor chambers. Both were of similar construction and built of yellow pine. The fire badly affected the top of the western half of the ground floor screen and in doing so exposed the extensive repair and renovation work undertaken circa 1950. None of the panels were found to contain timber but instead they had been filled with plaster, sunken to appear like panels. The sill was a length of pine inserted circa 1950. The rest of the surviving screen however dates from the 17th century. The second floor screen was largely destroyed in the fire. Only part was burnt but the rest was crushed by the collapse of the roof and third floor structure. However, 8 studs, a complete panel and a short length of headbeam were salvaged. See report for full details.

Bridge, M., 2012, 1, 3, and 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth Devon, Tree Ring Analysis of Timbers (Report - Scientific). SDV359239.

A total of sixteen timbers were sampled from various elements of the western side of the building complex fronting onto Higher Street, numbers 1, 3 and 5, including three major beams from the rear areas of these buildings. Two of the samples that had retained complete sapwood, matched with each other, and were found to have been from trees felled in the same year. One of these was from the northernmost rooms (1 Higher Street) and one from 3 Higher Street, showing that these two ceilings were likely to have been constructed at the same time. However, neither these, nor any other of the eleven series with sufficient rings to make measurement worthwhile, could be dated.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV155627List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1972. Dartmouth. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 25.
SDV157498List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of National Heritage. 1994. Dartmouth. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV340009Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2008. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Digital. [Mapped feature: #108639 ]
SDV340290Article in Serial: Smart, I. H.. 1991. The Many Ancient Guildhalls of Dartmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 123. A5 Paperback.
SDV340977Article in Serial: Watkin, H. R.. 1935. Dartmouth:1, Pre-Reformation. Parochial Histories of Devonshire. 5. Unknown. 89,199.
SDV341016Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St J. + Russell, P.. 1951. The Old House Known as Number Five Higher Street, Dartmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 83. A5 Hardback. 267-271; figures 1-2; Plates 11-12.
SDV341019Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1948. 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV341020Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1997. 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV341021Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX85SE27. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV341032Article in Serial: Russell, P. + Everett, A. W.. 1959. The Old House Known as Number Thirteen Higher Street, Dartmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 91. A5 Hardback.
SDV345762Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV351999Report - Assessment: Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants. 2011. The Listed Buildings in Dartmouth Affected by the Fire of 28th May 2010. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K786-3. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV352452Article in Monograph: Devon County Council. 1975. Dartmouth - Walk about in the Conservation Area & Exploring Dartmouth and Kingswear. Devon Town Trails: European Architectural Heritage Year. Paperback Volume. 37.
SDV359239Report - Scientific: Bridge, M.. 2012. 1, 3, and 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth Devon, Tree Ring Analysis of Timbers. English Heritage. 20-2012. A4 Bound + Digital.
SDV4676Article in Serial: French, K. + French, C.. 1957. Devonshire Plasterwork. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 129.

Associated Monuments

MDV42988Related to: Former Chapel and Guildhall (Monument)
MDV42293Related to: Former Guildhall in Higher Street (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6847 - 1, 3, and 5 Higher Street, Dartmouth Devon, Tree Ring Analysis of Timbers (Ref: 20-2012)

Date Last Edited:Oct 16 2015 4:18PM