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Description: Old Postern
Date Listed: 9 February 1961
English Heritage Building ID: 101038
OS Grid Reference: SX7868662699
OS Grid Coordinates: 278686, 62699
Latitude/Longitude: 50.4516, -3.7101
Explore more of the area around Dartington, Devon at Explore Britain.
SX7862-SX7962 DARTINGTON HALL
House, formerly the parsonage, now an educational establishment. C15
remodelled and extended in late C16 or early C17, some early C18
alterations, extended in early C19, and remodelled and extended again in
circa 1860 by William White; altered and restored in 1928-9 by Rex Gardner
as a temporary house for the Elmhursts before the restoration of Dartington
Hall was completed. Rendered stone with stone dressings, exposed lime
stone rubble at the rear. Reg and scantle slate roofs with gabled ends,
and crested ridge tiles, some early crested ridge tiles over the original
front range. Rebuilt limestone chimney stacks with weathered set-offs.
Plan: The C15 house occupies the main front range; it has a large 5-bay
open hall and a 3-bay lower end to the left possibly also open to the roof.
The plan of the original house is now probably incomplete and it is not
certain whether it extended beyond the hall at the higher right hand end
but there is a clean late C16 or early C17 truss on a right angle axis at
this end in a 2-storey wing which extends to the rear; furthermore the
inner room has circa early C17 moulded ceiling beams. The flooring of the
lower end and presumably the hall was probably coval with the building of
the higher end wing judging by the similarly moulded early C17 beams over
the screens passage. beyond the inner rooms at the right hand and a small
circa early C17 2-storey 1-room pan wing. Some improvements were carried
out in the early C18 suggested by the early C18 panelled doors in various
parts of the house. In the early C19 a large wing was built at right
angles at the lower end flush with the front and extending to the rear with
a stair well in the inside angle. In circa 1860 William White restored and
extended the house he removed the floor only from the hall, remodelled the
front in gothic style, built a second open hall behind the original hall
with a gallery on 2 sides which provided first floor access from the main
stairs (which he replaced) at the lower end of the first floor at the
higher end. There are service ranges around 3 sides of the rear courtyard
which appear to be largely the work of William White but may incorporate
some earlier fabric. The kitchen which fills the centre of the courtyard
is open to the roof and seems to be part of William White's rebuilding of
the rear services. In 1928-9 Rex Gardner as the architect for the Elmharts
restored the house removing much of William White's work; the front
elevation was simplified including the hall window and the removal of a bay
window at the lower end and the removal of battlements from the oriel on
the porch. At the lower west side of the early C19 wing R Gardner added a
lean-to roof extension in the form of a summer house. Inside Gardner
altered W White's timber gallery in the rear hall destroying some fine
carpentry. The early C19 rooms at the lower end have also been simplified
but some of the chimneypieces have been replaced by Bernard Leach tiles
Exterior: 2 storeys and a single storey open hall. The asymmetrical south
front contains the original hall range at the centre with the C20 5-light
stone mullion and transom hall window to the right of centre with a
hoodmould and leaded panes; to the left of centre the 2-storey porch the
front of which breaks forward with a gable in the parapet and a first floor
ariel with 3 arch-headed lights and a granite 2-centred arch doorway with
large ovolo moulding and keeled cushion stops. The porch has a moulded
string and cornice and at the sides buttresses with set-offs and slit
windows on the ground and first floors. The granite inner doorway has a 2-
centred arch a cavetta and chamfer moulding and keeled cushion stops; the
C19 door has cover moulds and wrought iron strap hinges. Gabled to left
and right over the lower and higher ends of the original range with 3-light
first floor windows and 4-light ground floor windows, all C20 metal frame
casements with leaded panes but the right hand first floor windows has its
old wooden frame.
2 storey 2-window addition to the higher right end has small gable to right
and two 3-light windows and-one simple light window, C20 metal frame
casements with leaded panes in old wooden frames. At the lower left end a
large circa early C19 addition with a gabled hipped roof and a large C20 3-
light stone mullion ground floor window, smaller 4-light first floor window
and a 5-light window to ground floor left in the lean-to extension, all
with hoodmoulds and C20 metal frame casements with leaded panes.
Rafter on 3 sides of a central covered yard (kitchen) at the rear;
limestone rubble with scantle slate roofs with half-hipped half dormers,
and a late C19 shouldered arch doorway on the west side.
Interior: 5 bay open hall and a further 3 bays over the lower end. The 9
trusses are raised (possibly jointed) cruck trusses resting on wooden
corbels and a moulded wall-plate; the cambered collars are morticed to the
principals and the chamfered arch braces are stopped in 2 places on either
arch to take bosses. There are 4 tiers of butt purlins, the massive butt
purlin at collar level is square set, and the ridge piece is diagonally
set. Some of the arch braces and purlins have been replaced. The 3 bays
over the lower end have similar open trusses and at the lower end there is
a truss against the end wall; all 8 bays of the roof structure appear to be
smoke-blackened. The truss at the higher end of the hall is against the
end wall where it is uncertain whether it was originally a closed truss or
whether the open roof continued beyond the hall. The existing roof over
the inner room is at right angles and one circa late C16 or early C17 truss
survives; it has mortices far threaded or butt purlins. Beyond the inner
room a small range parallel to the hall has a 3 bay roof, the principal
rafters have curved feet, cranked collars, butt purlins and a diagonal
ridge-piece; the range is of one room plan and two storeys and the floor
has square-section cross-beams.
The screens passage has early C17 composite moulded joints but the screen
and gallery above are C20. The inner room has 2 similarly moulded early
C17 ceiling beams and joints with run-out stops. The rear lateral
fireplace in the hall is late C19 moulded stone.
William White's hall behind the original hall is also open to the roof and
has arch braced trusses resting on wooden corbels imitating the hall roof;
it has a gallery on 2 sides somewhat altered by Rex Gardner in C20; there
is a rear lateral stone fireplace and stone 2-centred arch doorways on the
ground floor and at the gallery level.
There is some early C18 joinery including fielded panel and moulded doors
into the hall, parlour and lower rooms. There are other early C18 fielded
3-panel doors on the first floor of the rear left and right hand range,
probably reused from elsewhere in the house. The early C19 wing at the
lower end has some early C19 panelled doors and a single late C19
staircase. This early C19 wing has been much altered in the early C20 but
there are 4 fireplace surrounds with Bernard Leech tiles with flower design
and another Leach tile fireplace on the first floor of the rear right hand
wing covered by a C20 radiator.
The service ranges at the back are built around a central hall open to the
roof with a glazed ventilator, probably the kitchen.
Note: J A Froude (1818-94) the historian essayist and novelist was born at
this house which was his fathers' rectory. Like his brother R H Froude
(1803-36) he was a participant in the Oxford Movement; Keble and Newman
both stayed at the parsonage. Another brother William Froude (1810-79) was
the distinguished engineer and naval architect who is said to have tested
his models on a tank in the garden.
Listing NGR: SX7868662699
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.