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HER Number:MDV90
Name:Hartland Abbey House


Originally the Abbot's lodging, Hartland Abbey House became a mansion following the dissolution. A new wing was added in 1705 and it was rebuilt in 1779 when the hall and cloisters were incorporated into the house and built in the same Gothic style. Part of the west front may be of Tudor date.


Grid Reference:SS 240 249
Map Sheet:SS22SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHartland
Ecclesiastical ParishHARTLAND

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS22SW/12
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANSION HOUSE (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD (Between) to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, SS2424 (Aerial Photograph). SDV6747.

Untitled Source, 93-4 (Migrated Record). SDV15340.

Hartland Abbey (for medieval abbey see SS22SW/1). Modern mansion stands on part of the original site of Hartland Abbey. Nothing left of the first mansion. Rebuilt in 1779 when the hall and cloisters were incorporated into the house, and built in the same Gothic style. The original abbot's lodging made into a mansion after dissolution. Part of present west front may go back to that of Tudor house. Another wing added 1705 and house rebuilt 1779 in early Gothic style.

Chope, R. P., 1918, The Last of the Dynhams, 432, 456 (Article in Serial). SDV21435.

Chope, R. P., 1926, Address of the President. Hartland Abbey, 49-107 (Article in Serial). SDV6751.

Blackwell, A. E., 1950, 15th Report of the North Devon Branch, 174 (Article in Serial). SDV15402.

Extensions were added to the house in 1704 by Orchard, and later by his son, largely on the south side. The oldest remaining part is an archway of 1150.

Department of Environment, 1952, Bideford RD, 11 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV6744.

Ruins of Hartland Abbey incorporated in capital Gothic mansion built 1779. Stone built with castellated parapet. Two storeys and basement. Pointed Gothic windows. A Queen Anne (1705) portion exists at the SE end of the house, but the largest portion is that of 1779, including a finely decorated library. The house has never been sold since it was granted to Sir William Abbott by Henry VIII in 1536, for remains of medieval abbey incorporated in the mansion, see SS22SW/1.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 405 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SS22SW2 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV6746.

Hartland Abbey House is, externally, of 18th and 19th century appearance.

Department of Environment, 1989, Untitled Source (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV321644.

Hartland Abbey (formerly listed 22/1/1952 as Cloister Ruins)
Private country house originally built as an Augustinian Abbey. Founded in circa 1175 as a refoundation of the much older religious community dedicated to St Nectan. Granted at its Dissolution to William Abbot in 1546.
The building as it stands incorporates some C14 and C15 work in the basement and no doubt parts of its fabric are medieval and C16-C17, particularly the north-west range; a range of circa 1705 was built by Paul Orchard and a major rebuilding took place in 1779 initiated by the second Paul Orchard under the direction of John Meadows. In the C19 2 further remodellings were undertaken by Sir George Stuckley in circa 1845 and in 1862, the latter by Sir G G Scott.
Random and coursed stone rubble walls, rendered in places at the rear with bath/sandstone dressings. Natural slate roof, mainly hipped. Numerous stone rubble stacks all apparently late C18 and C19.
Plan and development: See Haslan (Country Life) and Pearse Chope (The Book of Hartland) for a full analysis. The present building ccupies the site of and probably to some extent incorporates the western range of the abbey, the abbot's lodging. Various C18 drawings illustrate the gradual remodelling which took place prior to 1779. The forerunner of the major late C18 remodelling was the addition by Paul Orchard in the first years of the C18 of an L-shaped block at the south-west end of the building. According to Haslam when the second Paul Orchard (1739 - 1812) inherited the abbey it was a
rambling building consisting of bedrooms in the medieval north wing connected through the 2 main rooms - the abbot's chamber and hall which were built over the west cloister - to the Queen Anne wing at the south. The house then spread on eastwards with a gallery above the south cloister. The major remodelling undertaken by Paul Orchard involved the demolition of the parts extending to the east along the valley and enclosing the remaining medieval building by constructing a corridor on each floor along the west side bypassing the main 3 first floor rooms and linking the new row of bedrooms on the floor above this medieval range. The spirit of the remodelling was very much the Gothick of Batty Langley. No major alterations then took place until 1845 Sir George Stuckley redecorated the 3 principal front rooms in a style very similar to the interior of the Palace of Westminster. In 1862 Scott supervised alterations to the plan comprising the conversion of the central entrance hall to billiard room and the building of a new outer hall at the north end of the
house which leads diagonally into an inner hall beyond which is a staircase hall and the long main corridor. The service courtyard to the south of the house appears also to be C19 although it may replace earlier buildings. Since the C19 the house has remained largely unaltered.
Exterior: 3 storeys with basement. Eastern elevation is composed of the 1779 new Gothick front of 3 bays with embattled parapet and central pediment breaking forward slightly. Large buttress with offsets at each end and a flat band divides the principal floors. The top floor windows, arranged 3:3:3, are hornless sashes with narrow glazing bars and intersecting tracery in the head in late C18 2-centred arched openings. On the piano nobile floor below is a large mid C19 bay at the centre of each of the outer bays. Both are crenellated and with mullion and transom windows, the left-hand one is rectangular whereas the right-hand one is canted. To either side of them are C19 2-light mullion and transom windows. The 3 windows of the central bay are in openings with 2 centred arched head with recessed surrounds - the 2 outer ones similar sashes to the floor above but taller, the central one - formerly a doorway - has a C19 traceried head and 2-light wooden mullion window below. Extending along the lower ground floor level is a row of fine sandstone
arches with trefoiled heads and circular columns reputed to be re-used from the abbey cloisters but in suspiciously good condition and corresponding to the fine sandstone dressings of the C18 and C19 work. At left end of the principal front is a small 2 storey range also embattled with a corresponding arched head window on each floor. A lower L-shaped service range extends to its left and returns to the rear around the service courtyard. At the right-hand end of the principal front is G G Scott's embattled single storey porch with Gothick arched doorway and stone mullion and transomed window in right-hand wall with corbelled chimney stack adjoining it.
The western elevation of the house is roughly symmetrical and comprises a central recessed 4 window section of 3 storeys with a projecting range of the same height at either end - the left-hand one slightly large. Projecting again from each of these and extending beyond to each end is a 2 storey plus attic 4 window wing. All ranges apart from the outer wing to the left have embattled parapets. The central section has circa late C19 4 pane sashes as its second floor. Probably late C18 sashes before with traceried heads but in square openings. On the ground floor are similar trefoiled arches to those on the east front. These extend around the inner face of the 2 projecting ranges adjoining, each with a C18 or C19 stone arched doorway adjoining. Of the 2 outer wings, the right-hand one is the early C18 addition of the first Paul Orchard. It has a canted full-height bay to left of centre. On its first floor are circa late C19 4-pane sashes and below are sashes with traceried heads in square openings. The left-hand wing has a similar arrangement of windows but with C19 stone mullion windows on the ground floor. The southern elevation of the house faces the service courtyard with an irregular facade incorporating 4 early C18 window openings which have moulded sandstone architraves with projecting keystones. Late C19 4 pane sashes inserted. Large probably later C18 arched stairlight with traceried head. The service range extends around 2 sides of the courtyard and has wide open arches on the ground floor and casement windows above with gables over. The wing returning to the west is probably later and a late C18 or C19 crenellated stone rubble wall extends along the west side enclosing the courtyard.
Interior: the fine interior is comprehensively described by Haslam in Country Life. Fragments of the medieval abbey survive in the basement in the form
of arched doorways and the springing possibly for a cloister arch. The early C18 range is fairly complete retaining its good open string staircase with ramped handrail, square panelled newels and barleytwist balusters. There is also some good bolection moulded panelling in 2 rooms and a contemporary bolection moulded chimneypiece with basket grate. Another has an eared architrave and decorative frieze. A small lobby is also panelled and has a contemporary plaster ceiling of delicate foliage and well modelled flower and fruit swag. The library is the only room which preserves its late C18 decoration scheme of arcaded panelling and chimneypiece with depressed ogee arch. The inner hall of 1862 and the dining room reuse Elizabethan arcaded panelling which has been painted and gilded. The 3 principal rooms flamboyantly decorated in 1845 have much heavy wood carving in the
form of doorcases and chimneypieces, largely in the Jacobean style, although the drawing room has earlier style linenfold panelling. The ceilings are of
intersecting moulded beams with carved bosses and decorated panels. The central room fireplace is made from Maltese stone. The drawing room has a frieze of painted panels depicting episodes of the Stucley family history. The main passageway was decorated by Scott with low cross-vaulting which has stencil decoration.
Hartland Abbey has a long and fascinating history and each of its main building phases is represented to a varying degree with some very good quality interior features and an imposing late C18 facade. Other details: LBS 91219.

Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/TA 3-6, TA 3-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV6753.

Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 208 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

Hartland Abbey House. Abbot's lodging made into a mansion after dissolution. Wing added 1705. Rebuilt 1779 when hall & cloisters incorporated into the house built in same Gothic style. Part of W front may be Tudor. Part of an archway dates to 1150.

Ordnance Survey, 2015, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV357601.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV15340Migrated Record: 93-4.
SDV15402Article in Serial: Blackwell, A. E.. 1950. 15th Report of the North Devon Branch. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 82. Hardback Volume. 174.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 405.
SDV21435Article in Serial: Chope, R. P.. 1918. The Last of the Dynhams. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 50. Unknown. 432, 456.
SDV321644List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1989. Historic Houses Register.
SDV339712Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J.. 2007. The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.22 (rev.1). A4 Stapled + Digital. No. 208.
SDV357601Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2015. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #109115 ]
SDV6744List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1952. Bideford RD. Historic Houses Register. 11.
SDV6746Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SS22SW2.
SDV6747Aerial Photograph: Unknown. SS2424. NMR Aerial Photograph.
SDV6751Article in Serial: Chope, R. P.. 1926. Address of the President. Hartland Abbey. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 88. A5 Hardback. 49-107.
SDV6753Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/TA 3-6. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). TA 3-6.

Associated Monuments

MDV75694Related to: Bridge to South-East of Hartland Abbey (Building)
MDV81263Related to: Carriage Drive to Hartland Abbey (Monument)
MDV13860Related to: Deerpark at Hartland Abbey (Monument)
MDV76Related to: Hartland Abbey (Monument)
MDV81261Related to: Hunting Lodge, Hartland (Monument)
MDV77Related to: Sundial at Hartland Abbey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1529 - SS22SW2

Date Last Edited:Aug 16 2023 11:54AM