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East Rillaton Cottage and West Rillaton Cottage, Cornwall

Description: East Rillaton Cottage and West Rillaton Cottage

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 June 2013
Building ID: 1414987

OS Grid Reference: SX2990273753
OS Grid Coordinates: 229896, 73747
Latitude/Longitude: 50.5387, -4.4019

Locality: Cornwall
County: Cornwall
Postcode: PL17 7PA

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Listing Text


A dwelling of 1599 built for the Charke family of Rillaton Manor, to serve as a dower house for Elizabeth Charke. Extended to the rear in a series of cross wings, and later adapted to form two dwellings. Some refurbishment, alteration and extension has taken place in the C20 and C21.

Reason for Listing

East Rillaton Cottage and West Rillaton Cottage, Rillaton, Cornwall, are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the building retains a significant proportion of historic fabric pre-dating 1700;

* Interior fittings: notable features survive including inglenook fireplaces, slab floor, stone shelves and C16 decorative plasterwork;

* Intactness: the earliest payout is legible, although adapted to incorporate historic extensions, which are themselves of interest;

* Historic interest/ Group value: the cottages are among the only known structures to survive from the regionally important Manor of Rillaton, which has clear links to the Dukes of Cornwall. The historic importance of the settlement, and this building, is evident in its probable involvement in a skirmish in the English Civil War.


Rillaton Manor is one of the most ancient and important manors in Cornwall, and has historic links with the Earls and Dukes of Cornwall, standing close to the main residence of the earls at Launceston Castle. The court rolls of 1330 identify the Manor as being the location of Queen Isabel's summer court, and a medieval settlement of significance once stood here. The exact location of the former manor house at Rillaton is not known, although by the C16 it was under the occupancy of the Charke family, who had been Reeves and Beadles to the Manor since at least 1337. In 1599 a dower house was built close by, for Elizabeth, the widow of William Charke. This former dower house is now divided into two dwellings, East Rillaton Cottage and West Rillaton Cottage. The Ordnance Survey Map of 1880 shows the 'Manor House (Site of)' to the east of the cottages.

Within a few years of the construction of the dower house, the building was extended to provide further accommodation in rear ranges. The house was formerly part of a complex of buildings including the manor house, and the remains of a cider barn are thought to lie under the rear garden. The Ordnance Survey Map of 1880 shows the building roughly on its current footprint.

By the C20, the building had been subdivided into two dwellings and a number of subsequent alterations have taken place, including the replacement of some of the roof structure, the insertion of bathrooms, and the replacement of window frames. Towards the end of the C20 the building passed from the ownership of Cornwall County Council into private hands. Some further alterations have taken place since that time.

The building may have been the focus of a skirmish during the English Civil War, possibly during the Siege of Lostwithiel in 1644, when Royalist troops mustered on Caradon Hill, a few miles away. Cannon balls and case shot have been found in the rear garden of East Rillaton Cottage.


A dwelling of 1599, extended in the early C17, and later.

MATERIALS: constructed of granite with supporting structure of oak, with slate floors. The main elevation is hung in Cornish slate. The roofs are covered in slate. Window frames are modern timber or uPVC.

PLAN: a single-depth, three-bay range with a later longhouse cross-wing to the north-east, and shorter cross-wing range to the north-west, forming a U-plan. The space between is infilled with a third, narrower cross-wing range. There are also out-shut extensions to the rear.

EXTERIOR: a two-storey building with a principal elevation that has three bays with a central door and openings to either side and above. A re-set date stone of 1599 is set above the door, and the elevation is slate hung. The roof to the right has a low hip and a narrow rendered stack; to the left it is gabled with a stone stack. The east flank (East Rillaton Cottage) is a long elevation of varying dates, of painted rubble stone with an informal arrangement of openings, including two entrances, under granite or wood lintels. The surrounds of the openings are brick. The left bay, the earliest phase of this building, has no openings. The rear elevations stand on varied building lines due to the multi-layered evolution of the building. The left bay is the gabled end of the long house extension, with three window openings and a wide farmhouse door to the right, in a lean-to extension attached to the north elevation. The lean-to adjoins an out-shut attached to the rear of West Rillaton Cottage. The out-shut has a hipped roof to the left, below a large stone chimney with offsets and a stair window. To the right, the out-shut forms a cat-slide around an attic window in a gabled end. Attached to the west is single-storey kitchen extension that is mainly of late-C20 date. The west flank of the original range (West Rillaton Cottage) has no openings. To the left is a door opening altered to form a window, and a small window to the upper storey.

INTERIOR: both floors of the building have varying levels, reflecting the different phases of the construction and the rising ground on which the building stands. Most ground-floor rooms are laid with slate or granite slabs. The first floor is covered with floorboards of varying dates. East Rillaton has a stair that is probably of C18 date, which has been altered and enclosed at a later date. West Rillaton's stair is of C21 date. The roof structure of West Rillaton has principals are of late-C16 and C17 date and replaced rafters. The main range has three chamfered trusses with arched collars lap-jointed into the trusses. Much of the East Rillaton roof structure is of C20 date, although the area above the original range was not inspected. Both cottages have large granite inglenooks, one in East Rillaton and two in West Rillaton. There are also a number of granite ledges above fireplaces in both buildings, built into the walls.

The front room of East Rillaton Cottage has ornate C16 plasterwork: a hand-carved cornice of small acanthus leaves with a spray of acanthus leaves and lillies to each corner; and a hand-carved design in the centre of the ceiling, a sheaf of corn decorated for harvest surrounded by wheat heads. The deeply-set window in this room has rebated shutters and panelling. Other parts of the cottage have exposed and covered timber beams and posts. The first floor has a visible stone rail running the length of the longhouse range, at eaves level. The chimney breast at the north end has three impressions in the plaster, possibly left by musket balls in the C17. Some internal walls are constructed of lathe and horse hair plaster.

The ceiling of the ground floor of West Rillaton displays exposed timbers, some of which have been altered, many with unstopped beams. Chamfering and stopping is more consistent at first floor level. A heavy timber is inserted in the ground-floor ceiling at the north-west corner of the original range. This rear wall curves significantly.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The front gardens have granite boundary walling, incorporating a mounting block and wellhead, both granite, to West Rillaton Cottage. The rear wall behind East Rillaton Cottage has a small niche with fire grate. A granite cider press lies in the rear garden of East Rillaton, found in situ, possibly among the below ground remains of a cider barn.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.