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HER Number:MDV95991
Name:The Old Custom House, The Strand, Barnstaple


The restaurant now called the Old Custom House was formerly Jenny Wren's Tea Shop and earlier West View Stores but was in the early part of its history a custom house. In 1642 William Wood was granted a lease of 'a linney now the Custom Howse'. The building dates to the late 16th, early 17th century with later additions.


Grid Reference:SS 557 331
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old Listed Building Ref: 485836

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CUSTOM HOUSE (Built, XVII to XVIII - 1601 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Gribble, J. B., 1830, Barnstaple (Cartographic). SDV357319.

Custom House marked (11).

Green, T. + Humphreys, C., 2003, No. 9 The Strand, Barnstaple (Article in Serial). SDV352478.

The restaurant now called the Old Custom House was formerly Jenny Wren's Tea Shop and earlier West View Stores but was in the early part of its history a custom house. In 1642 William Wood was granted a lease of 'a linney now the Custom Howse'. A documentary reference in 1870 to 'all that little house situate upon or near the quay of Barnstaple aforesaid and heretofore called or known by the name of Old Custom House' indicates a continuity of the name from William Wood to the 19th century. It was renamed West View in 1921 and subsequently became West View Stores. In 1955 part of the shop became tea rooms and it became known as Jenny Wren's Tea Shoppe. The building is the oldest on the Strand but appears to preserve only part of a once larger building. At least three phases of build can be identified. The earliest appears to have been a three cell building facing the Strand, perhaps built around the time of the reclamation of the quay in the 16th century. All that remains of this phase is the central room and possibly a cross passage. Features within the existing roof structure suggest a late 16th, early 17th century date. A first floor jetty was probably added in the late 17th, early 18th century and in the early 19th century the building was extended to the north. In the 19th century the end rooms were lost to neighbouring plots and a shop formed beyond the front wall of the earlier building.

Google, 2012, Google Streetview (Website). SDV348799.

Now a restaurant.

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

West View, The Strand.
House and shop. Probably 17th century or earlier; possibly enlarged in 18th century. Solid, roughcast walls, apparently of stone rubble. Roof of front range slated; rear ranges pantiled. No chimney visible from street.
Plan consists of 3 single-depth ranges, interior arrangmement considerably altered. 2 storeys. 1-window range, remodelled late 19th century or early 20th century. Shop windows in ground storey; canted bay window, off-centre to right, in upper storey. Right-hand side wall (exposed to side passage) has early or mid 19th century sashes in middle range; an 8-paned sash in ground storey, 2 sashes with 4 full panes and marginal quarter panes in upper storey. Interior: has few exposed features in ground storey: a heavy, plain upper-floor beam in rear room, a fireplace with 19th century marble surround and coloured patterned tiles in right-hand rear corner of middle range. Upper floor and roof structure not inspected.
Historical Note: old photographs show a chimney on right-hand gable of front range. Front had 2 ordinary sash windows in upper storey. Owner says his title deeds, dating back to Charles II, describe the building as a former Customs House, although John Wood's map of 1843 shows that a building a little further south was then used for this purpose. The modest scale of this building in a part of town much rebuilt in 18th century and 19th century, and the great thickness of the walls separating the ranges, suggests that this is a building of 17th century or earlier. It is likely to have features of interest concealed under plaster, and possibly an early roof structure.

Southwest Archaeology, 2013, Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database, BHBS Mapping Area 2001 (Un-published). SDV351581.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Watts, S., 2015, The Old Custom House, Barnstaple (Ground Photograph). SDV364323.

Exterior view of the building.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV348799Website: Google. 2012. Google Streetview. http://maps.google.co.uk. Website.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #109902 ]
SDV351581Un-published: Southwest Archaeology. 2013. Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database. Greater Barnstaple Area Project. Digital. BHBS Mapping Area 2001.
SDV352478Article in Serial: Green, T. + Humphreys, C.. 2003. No. 9 The Strand, Barnstaple. North Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 6. Digital.
SDV357319Cartographic: Gribble, J. B.. 1830. Barnstaple. Frontispiece to Memorials of Barnstaple. a4 single Sheet + Digital.
SDV364323Ground Photograph: Watts, S.. 2015. The Old Custom House, Barnstaple. Digital.
Linked images:1

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 12 2021 11:06AM