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HER Number:MDV863
Name:Dornat's Factory, formerly a Workhouse, Tuly Street, Barnstaple


Site of a former workhouse in Tuly Street in Barnstaple originally built as a warehouse and later the site of a mineral water factory. The factory has now been demolished and a library built in its place.


Grid Reference:SS 556 333
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Site Code: ND138
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/47
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE70

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FACTORY (XIX to XX - 1801 AD to 2000 AD)
  • WORKHOUSE (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Western Morning News, Platter found 300 years later (Article in Serial). SDV361443.

Archaeologists yesterday unearthed a 300 year old glazed platter near the site of the famous Barnstaple pottery. It was uncovered in an excavation inside the Dornats building, a former mineral water factory adjacent to Barnstaple's cattle market.The creamy-gold platter with a reddish design on it was discovered 18 inches beneath cobblestones in the Dornats courtyard.

Unknown, 04/07/1985, Saxon Dig (Article in Serial). SDV351419.

Unkown, 04/07/1985, Work Starts on Dig (Article in Serial). SDV351420.

Unknown, 15/08/1985, Buried Floor Found (Article in Serial). SDV351415.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

Aerated Water Manufactory recorded on the 1855-1895 1:500 town map, comprising buildings ranged around four sides of a courtyard.

Department of Environment, 1973, Barnstaple, 69 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV89941.

Early 19th century altered. Originally school, later woolstore and then workhouse. Large main building has school below with dormitory above. Ground floor has massive beams on slender doric cast iron columns with pronounced entasis. Ancillary wings on south west include caretakers quarters. Present large entrance is an alteration. (No longer Listed in 2009)

Bone, M., 1973, Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology (Monograph). SDV78228.

Dornat's Mineral Water factory in Tuly Street. Former workhouse. Over 300 years old, it apparently started life as a builders warehouse. Later, under the pre-1834 Poor Law provisions it served as the Borough workhouse. On the construction of the Union Workhouse in Alexandra Road in 1837, the building became first a wool-combing factory and then a brewery. Since 1860, it has been occupied by Dornats Mineral Works.

Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 23 (Monograph). SDV7016.

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

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SS53SE70 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV76039.

A workhouse (Pre-Union) worth noting at Barnstaple.

Grant, A., 1981, The North Devon Pottery Industry of the Later Seventeenth Century (Extract) (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV7737.

Bridewell is documented on this site from early 17th century.

North Devon Journal, 1984, Dig finds an old platter (Article in Serial). SDV361442.

A creamy-gold glazed platter, thought to be 300 years old, has been found by archaeologists.
Tha platter although cracked, is a high quality example of North Devon craftmanship.
It was unearthed in an excavation inside the Dornats building, a former mineral water factory close to the town's cattle market.
It lay 18 inches beneath cobblestones in the Dornats courtyard and only a few yards from the site of an internationally famous pottery of the 17th century.

Express & Echo, 1984, Digging into History at Old Factory Site (Article in Serial). SDV361485.

North Devon's newly appointed council archaeologist and a small team of workers sponsored by the Manpower Services Commission have started trial excavations at Barnstaple's proposed new library site, a former mineral water factory called Dornats adjoining the cattle market and dating back hundreds of years.

In the 1620s a house and gardens located there were sold as a bridewell (a combination of jail, debtors prison and workhouse) which survived until the early 19th century. The Bridewell was later purchased and converted into a wool combing factory before being taken over in the 1960s by Dornats and used as a mineral water factory until the 1970s.

The library will be arcaded on three sides at floor level enabling people to walk around underneath the building to link up with the existing footpath system around the Castle Mound.

Bideford Gazette, 1985, Dig Throws Some Light on the Past (Article in Serial). SDV361486.

Four weeks into the dig to uncover secrets of Barnstaple's past archaeologists have made a number of interesting finds. The dig, taking place on the site of the Dornats mineral factory, is sponsored by North Devon Council.

Items of pottery have been identified as having come from a local pottery which was run on the site by master potter William Oliver. Some unidentified coins have been found, clay pipes clearly made in Barnstaple from the word Barum stamped on the bottom of their bowls. And a bottle medallion bearing the inscription I (or J) Truland, 1741.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1986, An Excavation at North Devon Area Library Site, Barnstaple; Summary Report (Report - Excavation). SDV76038.

A survey in 1984/85 found no surviving evidence of the workhouse period within the standing structure. Most of the building was probably reconstructed following a fire in 1879. Recent alterations obliterated much evidence for industrial use; however, surviving in the roof space was a large wooden wheel, used as a hoist. Post-demolition excavation showed the first phase of the 1515 workhouse to have had walls of earth-bonded stone. Robber-trenches and floor layers indicate a 2-roomed building, both rooms with rough hollows carved into their floors - possibly to house machinery. A row of post-holes on the north side may represent a large loom. In the south room the remains of a clay lined sump and a drain suggested a fleece-washing facility. Living accommodation probably on first floor. Eventually the hollow in the south room was infilled and a mortar floor laid, possibly in 1659 when documentary evidence suggests reconstruction. The superior floor and one fragment of decorated Delft tile suggests that this may have become the master's quarters. In the north room a clay grit floor was laid, but the hollow continued in use. The whole building was demolished, probably in 1792 when a new stone and masonry building was erected. This was the building eventually used by the Dornat factory.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 73 (Monograph). SDV64198.

The old workhouse building, more recently Dornat's Factory - the square structure of four ranges next to the castle - has been demolished and the new County Library built.

North Devon District Council, 1989, Barnstaple Pottery Week and Kiln Build (Leaflet). SDV356885.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1990, Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90 (Report - non-specific). SDV342524.

Borough Workhouse or Bridewell built in the 17th century and continuing in use until 1836 when a new workhouse was constructed at Ebberley Lawn.

Lovatt, A. M., 1990, Excavations within a Medieval Town: North West Barnstaple 1985-1988, 7-12 (Report - Excavation). SDV64370.

Site became available for the library after the demolition of the Dornat factory in Tuly Street in Barnstaple. Trial trenching in 1985 in the central courtyard concentrated on recovering details of the workhouse occupation and on examining a section of the motte ditch. Excavation revealed evidence of the 'Outer Bailey' ditch, a pottery kiln and a road. The workhouse involved a 2 metre encroachment into Tuly Street and two fragmentary cobble floors were exposed. A number of features suggested a bell-founding operation at the site including two casting pits and two furnaces.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1991, North Devon Archaeological Site Code Index, Site Code ND138 (Report - non-specific). SDV63429.

Dornats Factory. Building surveyed in 1987 prior to demolition.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003, Barnstaple Castle Car Park Scheme: Phase 1: Archaeological Assessment, 12, Fig. 11 (Report - Assessment). SDV319631.

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

The former factory has been demolished and a new library built in its place.

Timms, S. C., 28/04/1983, Tuly Street Workhouse (Personal Comment). SDV76036.

Site visit: 28th April 1984. The conversion works, which have been left unfinished, have seriously altered the historical fabric of this structure. It is a substantial three-storey building around three sides of a courtyard, the northwest side being closed off by high stone wall. The southeast range contained fine residential accommodation of the 18th/19th century which has been gutted. New windows, floors and openings throughout. Now of limited historical interest, but an imposing building nevertheless. Dornatt's Mineral Waters factory has closed and planning permission was granted in 1980 or 1981 for the conversion of the building for a multi-purpose use including ice-rink etc. Work began in 1981 and included some ground disturbance which was watched by North Devon District Council's Rescue Archaeology Unit. No positive results. Artefacts from previous Barnstaple excavations are in temporary store in this building. Reference to Barnstaple pre-union workhouse refers to this building, but gives an inaccurate Grid Reference.

Beacham, P., Nov 1983, Barnstaple Local Public Inquiry. Historic Buildings in Barnstaple Town Centre included in Redevelopment Proposals. Proof Evidence, 2.18 (Report - non-specific). SDV354431.

Apart from its historic interest, the building is still of considerable visual importance despite recent alterations because of its scale and proximity to the Castle Mound.

Devon County Council Conservation Section, October 1980, Dornat's Factory, Film 455 (Ground Photograph). SDV342248.

The foundations of the old Dornat's factory wereuncovered during excavations on the site of the proposed new library. They probably date from the time of the rebuilding after a fire in 1879. Beneath the factory was an earlier floor made of mortar which had a brick hearth. All that survived of the walls were the trenches. The walls and floor probably belonged to the workhouse or Bridewell which occupied the site from the 17th-18th centuries.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV319631Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. Barnstaple Castle Car Park Scheme: Phase 1: Archaeological Assessment. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.62. A4 Stapled + Digital. 12, Fig. 11.
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108714 ]
SDV342248Ground Photograph: Devon County Council Conservation Section. October 1980. Dornat's Factory. Devon County Council Conservation Section Collection. Photograph (Paper). Film 455.
SDV342524Report - non-specific: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1990. Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV351415Article in Serial: Unknown. 15/08/1985. Buried Floor Found. North Devon Journal. Photocopy.
SDV351419Article in Serial: Unknown. 04/07/1985. Saxon Dig. North Devon Journal Herald. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV351420Article in Serial: Unkown. 04/07/1985. Work Starts on Dig. Western Morning News. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV352446Article in Monograph: Devon County Council. 1975. Barnstaple Town Trail. Devon Town Trails: European Architectural Heritage Year. Paperback Volume. 17.
SDV354431Report - non-specific: Beacham, P.. Nov 1983. Barnstaple Local Public Inquiry. Historic Buildings in Barnstaple Town Centre included in Redevelopment Proposals. Proof Evidence. Devon County Council. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2.18.
SDV356885Leaflet: North Devon District Council. 1989. Barnstaple Pottery Week and Kiln Build. Leaflet + Digital.
SDV361442Article in Serial: North Devon Journal. 1984. Dig finds an old platter. North Devon Journal. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV361443Article in Serial: Western Morning News. Platter found 300 years later. Western Morning News.
SDV361485Article in Serial: Express & Echo. 1984. Digging into History at Old Factory Site. Express & Echo. 06/12/1984. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV361486Article in Serial: Bideford Gazette. 1985. Dig Throws Some Light on the Past. Bideford Gazette. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV63429Report - non-specific: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1991. North Devon Archaeological Site Code Index. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. Site Code ND138.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 73.
SDV64370Report - Excavation: Lovatt, A. M.. 1990. Excavations within a Medieval Town: North West Barnstaple 1985-1988. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Grip Bound + Digital. 7-12.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 23.
SDV76036Personal Comment: Timms, S. C.. 28/04/1983. Tuly Street Workhouse. Not Applicable.
SDV76038Report - Excavation: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1986. An Excavation at North Devon Area Library Site, Barnstaple; Summary Report. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV76039Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SS53SE70. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV7737Post-Graduate Thesis: Grant, A.. 1981. The North Devon Pottery Industry of the Later Seventeenth Century (Extract). Exeter University PhD Thesis. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV78228Monograph: Bone, M.. 1973. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. A5 Paperback.
SDV89941List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1973. Barnstaple. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 69.

Associated Monuments

MDV830Related to: Barnstaple Union Workhouse (Building)
MDV50028Related to: Bell Casting Site adjacent to Barnstaple Castle (Monument)
MDV38774Related to: Post Medieval Pottery Works in Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV38728Related to: Well adjacent to sites of Dornat's Factory and the Cattle Market, Tuly Street, Barnstaple (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4504 - Excavation at Library Site in Barnstaple
  • EDV1378 - Barnstaple Castle Car Park Scheme Archaeological Assessment

Date Last Edited:Jun 28 2018 12:51PM