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Title:Bishops Nympton
Originator:Department of Environment
Summary:Former manor house, in process of conversion to an hotel at time of survey (1987). Core appears to be late 16C/early 17C although earlier fabric may survive (there has been a house on the site since the 12C). House was refurbished c1700 the use of brick in the east wing could also be of this date. The roof structure indicates substantial late 19C repair. Rendered externally, probably stone, the first floor of the east wing brick; slate roof, hipped at ends; rear lateral stack, right end stack and 3 axial stacks to the main range, lateral stacks to each wing, one on each outer return wall. Plan: east plan, a south facing main range with central 2-storey porch and west and east crosswings, the centre of the range with a 2-storey rear outshut containing service rooms on the ground floor with 2 stair cells. The porch leads into a cross passage with the principal stair to the rear, a screen to the right of the entrance divides the large hall, heated by the rear lateral stack, from the passage. Principal parlour in the east wing with a small parlour to the left of the cross passage with an axial passage behind it, parallel to the rear wall of the main range. This axial passage connects the main entrance to a large room within the main range which may have been the 17C kitchen. The west crosswing is heated by a probably 19C stack and appears to have been an unheated service wing before this date. A 17C dogleg stair survives to the rear of the w wing. The first floor consists of a series of notable chambers fitted out in circa 1700. The very fine c1700 refurbishment appears to have been carried out within the basic plan form of the late 16C/early 17C house variations in the panelling suggesting a major programme of work between c1690-1730. The outshut, judging from the survival of some leaded light widows, is probably a late 17C. Exterior: well-preserved and very attractive with 19C small-pane 4-light timber casements throughout, some within 16C or 17C moulded frames. 2 storeys. Symmetrical south front, the crosswings hipped to the front, the 2-storey porch in the centre with a hipped roof, 2 bays to the left and 2 to the right of the porch, one bay to the end of each crosswing. Plain segmental arched outer doorway to the porch below a 4-light casement with a 17C frame and mullions, the first floor window to the left of the porch has a similar 17C frame and mullions. The east crosswing seems to have been partially rebuilt, the first floor constructed out of bricks and the upper part of the projecting stack on the e wall also brick. There is a change in plane and a buttress to the wall to the north of the stack but it seems likely that the wing was always 2 storeys as a 4-light first floor late 16C/early 17C King mullioned window survives with a moulded frame and mullions and lights with square leaded panes. The west wall of the west wing has a probably 19C lateral stack, 2 20C doors and scattered fenestration of 1 and 2-light windows, mostly with 20C glazing. The rear elevation (the outshut) has 4 first floor 17C 3-light windows with square leaded panes and 4 ground floor probably 18C casements with square leaded panes. A 19C stair window with brick blocking below the sill lights the main stair and northwest stair window is circa late 17C. Evidence of rebuilding and repair on the rear elevation includes the masonry of the northeast corner of the outshut and courses of brick below the eaves. Interior: outstanding for the quality and quantity of circa early 18C panelling and for numerous other features of interest. The hall is a splendid room, the chimney-piece with an eared, Bolection moulded architrave rising in the centre. The plaster ceiling is probably of the same date, but possibly an adaptation of an earlier ceiling, 8 panels of richly moulded intersection beams. Plaster ceiling roses applied to the centre of each panel are, presumably, 18C. The wall panelling is probably early 18C, the panels recessed bead and probably designed for picture-hanging. Moulded rectangles, probably contemporary with 4 early 18C 6-panel doors (one false) with some original hinges and swan-necked pediments as overdoors. The doors are paired; 2 on the right end wall of the hall; 2 opposite one another, on the north and south walls at the left end of the room. The south door is false, the north door leads to the stair cell which contains a 20C stair presumably replacing a grand dog-leg stair which was originally accessible from the rear of the passage. A fine 5-bay screen, earlier in date than any of the other features in the hall, divides the hall from the passage. Reeded pilasters divide the bays with a strapwork frieze and moulded cornice above, the frieze punctuated with carved consoles. The second and fourth bays are 6-panel doors. The other bays are divided into panels on the hall side by richly-carved muntins and rails with round-head carved arcading in the upper panels. On the passage side the panelling is recessed behind chamfered studs and rails with a row of timber hat pegs. The 6-pane rear door of the passage, formerly leading to the main stair, has a richly moulded door frame with bar scroll stops and a cornice. The principal parlour in the east wing is also a very fine room, panelled throughout (the panelling unpainted) with a decorated plaster ceiling and good chimney-piece, the fittings probably early 18C, the timber chimney-piece also panelled, 2 matching 6-panel doors in the north wall with panelled overdoors, the plaster ceiling (re-suspended in the last 3 years) with a big central quatrefoil. The small parlour to the left of the cross passage is also panelled throughout, the door from the axial passage 6-panel on the passage side, 8-panel facing the room with HL hinges. The Bolection-moulded timber chimney-piece incorporates in integral painting on canvas, the iconography illustrating the fruitfulness of the promised land. An integral painting on canvas over the door appears to show the Goddess, Diana. The left hand (west) room in the main range, which may have been the 17C kitchen, has a rough exposed crossbeam and a massive open fireplace with a timber Bolection-moulded chimneypiece concealing an iron lintel. The front room of the west crosswing is very plain with a possibly 19C fireplace with a segmental arched lintel. Although the main stair has been replaced, 2 early stairs survive: a dog-leg stair with landing at the e end of the house with probably early 18C dado panelling with a ramped cornice. A second dog-leg stair with a landing rises within the outshut to the rear of the w wing. The balustrade is 19C or later but 4 massive circa late 17C cylindrical oak newels survive, slightly tapering at the top, the stair lit by a 17C window already described. The first floor retains a set of very fine c1700 panelled rooms including original chimney-pieces and doors, 3 of the rooms with integral overmantel paintings. The principal room in the west wing has a painting depicting a woman with children holding musical instruments with a 17C formal garden in the background. The same room has a 17C cupboard recess and a panelled ante room. The 2 principal rooms in the main range and east wing have Italianate overmantel landscape paintings and other smaller chambers are also well-preserved. Roof: largely 19C construction with King post and strut roofs of a conventional 19C character, including some iron girders. There are some earlier re-used timbers including evidence of former lap-dovetailed joints. Information in the possession of the present owner includes a list of owners beginning with the Peverell family in 1162, followed by the Basset family 1240-1603. An outstanding house with a remarkably well-preserved interior.

Associated Monuments (11)

MDV19605Bish Mill, Bishop's Nympton (Building)
MDV73845Bishop's Nympton, Capitol Farmhouse (Building)
MDV73846Bishop's Nympton, Crosse Cottage (Building)
MDV34467Bishop's Nympton, Garliford Mill (Building)
MDV34470Bishops Nympton, Newtown Chapel (Building)
MDV37483Great Avercombe Farmhouse, Bishop's Nympton (Building)
MDV742St Mary's Parish Church, Bishops Nympton (Building)
MDV1837Terrett Memorial Chapel (Building)
MDV754Whitechapel Manor (Building)
MDV53916Whitechapel Manor, Garden Walls (Building)
MDV21947Whitechapel Manor, Gate Piers & Garden Walls (Building)