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Description: Nutwell Court
Date Listed: 11 November 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 88639
OS Grid Reference: SX9878085035
OS Grid Coordinates: 298780, 85035
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6562, -3.4333
Explore more of the area around Woodbury, Devon at Explore Britain.
SX 98 NE WOODBURY NUTWELL ROAD, Lympstone
1/126 Nutwell Court
Substantial country house. The manor belonged to the Dinhams; of their late
medieval house parts of the chapel remain (there is a record of a licence in 1371,
but there appears to have been a chapel here in the early C14, a date that accords
well with the style of the remaining glass); the house was rebuilt by Lord Dinham
(later Henry VII's Treasurer) in the 1480s; this in turn was drastically remodelled
in the 1750s by Sir Francis Drake who demolished the gatehouse at great expense and
converted the chapel into a library thereby destroying part of the medieval roof.
The house was largely rebuilt for the 2nd Lord Northcote in 1802 to plans by Samuel
Pepys Cockerell. A major restoration was undertaken in the 1940s by George
Northcott. The chapel is of sandstone ashlar; the remainder of the house is clad
in yellow mathematical tiles in Flemish bond fixed to laths; these are hung to
resemble bricks in Flemish bond. Gabled-end and hipped roofs, those to the house
concealed by balustrade.
Plan: principal rooms ranged around the central rear stairwell with entrance hall
to left-hand (north) side; service rooms occupy a rear wing that runs parallel to
the chapel, with service accommodation in the attic. A ballroom is placed in the
basement (south-west). 2 storeys and basement throughout, the central part with
attic storey; the austere exterior,combined with an imaginative disposition of
internal spaces,is reminiscent of Soane.
Exterior: all windows have hornless sashes which, with the exception of the attic
storey, have lost their glazing bars. Plat band between basement and ground floor,
Entrance front (north): symmetrical, 6 bays; balustrade. Unadorned sash windows
to 1st floor. Ground floor with 2-bay entrance; 2 Ionic columns with plain cornice
under segmental arch with plain recessed tympanum; steps with stone balustrade and
square-section newel. 2 tall windows to either side of entrance with small
balustrades to sills; plain basement windows.
Garden front (west): 1:3:1 bays, symmetrical, the central bays projecting with
attic storey above moulded cornice originally with a hipped roof. Plain sash
windows to these bays except to basement which has French windows. Side bays with
balustrade; tripartite window to 1st floor; large tripartite window to ground
floor, under segmental arch and depressed tympanum, giving onto balconies with
railings which are not part of Cockerell's scheme; lunette to basement.
South front: simple 5-bays with balustrade.
Chapel: recessed slightly from the south front and extending east. The fabric of
the chapel appears to be medieval (see especially the north wall), but it is
difficult to be certain about the authenticity of the detailing; although some
looks convincingly C14, the chapel has undergone drastic restorations in the C18,
C19 and C20. South side, 4 bays, that to the west an entrance bay; external flight
of steps leading to the door at 1st floor level with segmental arch, under 3
trefoil-headed windows with transoms, and a simple hood mould. Crypt with three 2-
light, square-headed windows with C20 replacement ovolo moulded surrounds and
mullions. Above these, to the chapel proper, 3 Perpendicular C19 pointed windows,
of 3-, 4-and 3-lights respectively, under hood moulds and block labels.
Crenellated parapet; each merlon contains weathered arms which look C14 and include
those of the Dinham family.
East end: corner turrets with heavily crocketed finials, corbelled out above
parapet string course, and with canopied niches containing figures of St George
(south-east corner facing south) and the Archangel Michael (north-east corner
facing north): they are much weathered and probably late C14. Gable wall coping
with crockets; 5-light C19 or early-C20 Perpendicular window.
North side: Crenellated parapet (on south) extends part way along. The fabric has
been much disturbed, with blocked medieval pointed window, and evidence of doors at
1st floor level giving into parts of the house now destroyed. One ground floor
door, square-headed, with concave moulding, step stopped; square-headed crypt
window, C14 or C15. 2 cinquefoil headed lights, under hood mould, medieval north
arched doorway to crypt approached by 3 steps down.
Rear: 4 irregular storeys, all except C20 window under depressed arches. Rear wing
with crenellated parapet, C19 and C20, with three 2-light square headed windows to
north with garages below. Apex of gable wall with octagonal bell turret, with
pretty Gothic bell-openings.
Interior: vestibule with 1940s glazed doors; coffered barrel vault. Main entrance
hall with Ionic columns set axially, chequered marble floor and wall medallions.
North-east room with richly coffered ceiling, the panels octagonal, with elaborate
cornice. North-west room sparer in detail, with central plaster oval and cornice.
Open-well semi-oval cantilever staircase, stone treads and risers, wrought-iron
balusters and wreathed rail; stair-landing bressumers with Greek key motifs;
doorcases with entablatures and architraves, panelled reveals and doors; circular
skylight set in dome with fan motifs; Adamesque mural decoration. Drawing room
(west), central plaster octagon, columns with Composite capitals. Basement,
ballroom (south), with large plaster rectangle to ceiling containing strapwork and
shells; elaborate cornice with dentils and acanthus. Chimneypiece with Ionic
marble columns, frieze of entablature contains half relief of Cupid. Antechamber
also with cornice. Internal panelled shutters throughout.
Chapel: antechamber, window contains C14 glass, 3 figures (Elijah, Daniel,
Zachariah), good quality with some canopy work, possibly from the original chapel.
Chapel with 7-bay roof which may in part be medieval; principals on stone corbels,
moulded arch braces, crenellated collars, trenched purlins, arcaded wall struts,
wall plate with fleurons. C19 fitted bookcases. Side windows with C19 coloured
glass in head light tracery. East window with good glass of circa 1900 showing
scenes from the life of Sir Francis Drake.
Crypt: no medieval detailing survives. 4 square section granite piers with
moulded capitals divide the space axially; brick groined vault. Chamfered window
Listing NGR: SX9878085035
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.