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Originator:Department of Environment
Summary: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.

Associated Monuments (1)

MDV90Hartland Abbey House (Building)