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HER Number:MDV9311


Downes a 17th century Georgian mansion with later additions & alterations


Grid Reference:SX 851 997
Map Sheet:SX89NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishCrediton Hamlets
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCREDITON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX89NE/9
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANSION HOUSE (XIV to XIX - 1301 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX89NE 1 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV337757.

Other details: Photograph.

Swete, R. J. (Revd), 1792-1801, 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete, 564M/13/147 (Record Office Collection). SDV337942.

Illustrations by Swete.

Pengelly, W., 1878, Third report of the Committee on Scientific Memoranda, 80 (Article in Serial). SDV337756.

Reichel, O. J., 1922, The Manor and Hundred of Crediton, 154 (Article in Serial). SDV40070.

The site of an early medieval estate recorded in 1304 as being included in the Town Tithing, one of eighteen Tithings in the manor of Crediton.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: South Devon, 96 (Monograph). SDV336217.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 379 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Downes. A Georgian mansion built about 1692. The home of the Goulds until 1726, then the Bullers - including Sir Redvers Buller who relieved Ladysmith.

Department of Environment, 1959, Crediton RD, 15 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV58276.

English Heritage, 1985, Crediton Hamlets (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337759.

Downes a country mansion built for the Gould family around 1692; acquired by James Buller of Morval by marriage in 1739 and since has remained Buller home; some high quality improvements of about that time; remodelled in 1794; service accommodation rebuilt 1854; main block altered around 1794 and again around1868. Original brick faced with Beer stone ashlar in 1794, later work in brick; slate roofs, lead roof ridges and hips. Exterior now Palladian but basic late 17th century layout remains. Originally built as a courtyard house with main block facing south-east. Kitchen and service rooms to rear have been demolished leaving only 19th century L-shaped service accommodation block (now estate offices) behind south west wing. All ranges are 2 storeys with attic rooms in roofspace. Front range is flanked by single storey pavilions set forward from the house, possibly original, but more likely early 18th century. According to 1787 map these were attached with concave quadrant walls. Main block symmetrical with central front door and central staircase plan; main rooms either side and principal bed-chambers over on first floor. In 1855 main door moved to south-west side with new porch and passage connection to original entrance hall. Service rooms and stair to rear. Pavilion left of front was wine cellar until 1842. Right pavilion and north-east wing contain high quality rooms furbished in late 18th and 19th centuries. Symmetrical south-east front has main block recessed behind flanking pavilions. 7-window front of 12-pane sashes with centre 3 articulated by slight break forward and pediment over; central double doors have pedimented doorcase with Ionic pilasters; simple plinth; modillion eaves cornice with parapet above and pediment containing 18th century Buller arms. Large wrought iron footscraper either side of porch. The extension to right has two 12-pane sashes with applied Ionic pilaster between and pairs each end. Pilasters are not applied to projecting single bay at right end but entablature is carried round. To left of porch 2-bay screen of 3 Ionic columns in antis continues line of the extension to meet the service block. Painted brick main block behind contains 4-pane sashes with segmental heads; those 2 first floor at right end are blind. Eaves on shaped brackets. Roof is hipped to front and gabled to rear and includes 4 flat roofed dormers. 3 with 3-light casements with glazing bars and a fourth double window dormer. The 4-window northeast elevation of main block is 1794 work partly restored in 1910; Beer stone ashlar on moulded plinth of volcanic ashlar. The 3 ground floor windows to right, (18-pane sashes) project in the form of a segmental bay. Interior has features of all periods but most notable are those of circa 1692 and circa 1726. The front entrance hall was adapted in late 19th or early 20th century and has Bolection-moulded oak panelling with box cornice. The same date is 2-arched screen with door left to 1794 entrance hall was apparently placed across the foot of a grand early 18th century stair. The screen is made up of early 18th century joinery including panelled pilasters with carved ascanthus brackets under forward breaks in the cornice. The arches have carved female heads at each apex. There are dog gates at the bottom of the stairs; their tops swept down to the middle and slender moulded bars forming a grille in the centre panel of each. The stair rises in 3 flights around a large open well; moulded flat handrail, ornate twisted balusters, open string with elaborately carved ascanthus brackets; plastered soffit with ribbed rectangular panels. The stair is lit by a big round-headed sash window; its large panes contain geometric leaded glass in the centre surrounded by leaded fragments of 17th and 18th century French stained glass. Above a fine ornamental plasterwork ceiling comprising a central double rib roundel enriched with high relief plants, fruits and flowers surrounded by panels containing wreaths, garlands, and grotesque scrolls and a coved cornice includes armorial bearings in cartouches and floral swags. The arms of James Buller I and his first wife Elizabeth Gould date the plasterwork and probably the stairs to the early 18th century. The screen, stair and plasterwork are paralleled at Bellair in Topsham Road, Exeter. Front entrance hall was enlarged in 19th century by removal of partition to right room which otherwise preserves Bolection-moulded chimney piece and panelling. Room to left of hall has early 17th century small-field oak panelling and a contemporary ornate carved oak chimneypiece inscribed MD TD (Margaret and Thomas Dunscombe) and the date 1604. It is supposed to have been brought from Higher Dunscombe. Moulded plaster ceiling comprises central roundel with panels around defined by bolection-moulded ribs, and the chamber above has a similar ceiling. The right front chamber is lined with Bolection panelling with an original painted panel in the overmantel depicting an Old Testament scene of royal feasting and dancing. The north-east wing has 18th century white marble Rococco chimney pieces with shells and festoons in the ground floor boudoir and chamber above. The first floor sash windows overlooking the courtyard have lower panels of late 19th century thick translucent leaded glass in geometric patterns. Most of the rest refurbished in 19th century and ground floor ballroom and right pavilion have Tudor style ceilings of that date, the latter with contemporary carved York stone fireplace and chimney piece. Fittings in the service (south-west) include 19th century service bells, each with an individual tone and ceramic labels. Other details: LBS No 95165.

Department of Environment, 1985, Crediton Hamlets, 37 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV38635.

Large 18th century country house. Central block with one storey flanking wings.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/FO, 12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337758.

Cherry, B., 1988, The Devon Country House in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries, 104 (Article in Serial). SDV129144.

Core of present house at Downes is a single depth symmetrical range which may have been added to older service ranges, since rebuilt.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 339 (Monograph). SDV325629.

South range was originally only one room deep. Re-used 1604 fireplace possibly from Dunscombe. Imposing staircase entered by dog gates. Ceiling plasterwork in the tradition of John Abbot's 1681 work at Exeter Custom House.

Sainsbury, I. S., 1990, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV38642.

In good condition.

Morton, R., 2006, Land south of Exeter Road, Crediton: Archaeological desk-based assessment and archaeological recording, 12 (Report - Assessment). SDV337718.

Downes house (Site 9a). Other details: Fig 3 & Appendix A.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV129144Article in Serial: Cherry, B.. 1988. The Devon Country House in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. A5 Paperback. 104.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 379.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 339.
SDV336217Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: South Devon. The Buildings of England: South Devon. Paperback Volume. 96.
SDV337718Report - Assessment: Morton, R.. 2006. Land south of Exeter Road, Crediton: Archaeological desk-based assessment and archaeological recording. Cotswold Archeological Trust Report. 06100. A4 Stapled + Digital. 12.
SDV337756Article in Serial: Pengelly, W.. 1878. Third report of the Committee on Scientific Memoranda. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 10. A5 Hardback. 80.
SDV337757Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX89NE 1. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337758Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/FO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 12.
SDV337759List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 1985. Crediton Hamlets. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV337942Record Office Collection: Swete, R. J. (Revd). 1792-1801. 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown + Digital. 564M/13/147.
SDV38635List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1985. Crediton Hamlets. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 37.
SDV38642Site Visit: Sainsbury, I. S.. 1990. RCHME Field Investigation.
SDV40070Article in Serial: Reichel, O. J.. 1922. The Manor and Hundred of Crediton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 54. A5 Hardback. 154.
SDV58276List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1959. Crediton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 15.

Associated Monuments

MDV73412Parent of: Pump at Downes (Monument)
MDV73411Parent of: Sundial at Downes Farm (Monument)
MDV36162Related to: Downes Farm Barns (Building)
MDV36160Related to: Downes Farm House (Building)
MDV36161Related to: Downes Farmstead (Building)
MDV9313Related to: Downes Mill, Crediton (Building)
MDV97366Related to: Downes Parkland and Gardens (Park/Garden)
MDV76197Related to: Linhay north-east of Downes (Monument)
MDV73409Related to: Pump, Downes, Crediton Hamlets (Monument)
MDV73410Related to: Pump, Downes, Crediton Hamlets (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4151 - Site of Proposed Tesco Store at Crediton

Date Last Edited:Feb 18 2014 2:25PM