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Ayshford Court, Burlescombe

Description: Ayshford Court

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 5 April 1966
English Heritage Building ID: 95868

OS Grid Reference: ST0482915233
OS Grid Coordinates: 304829, 115233
Latitude/Longitude: 50.9287, -3.3556

Location: Burlescombe, Devon EX16 7HL

Locality: Burlescombe
Local Authority: Mid Devon District Council
County: Devon
Country: England
Postcode: EX16 7HL

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Listing Text

BURLESCOMBE AYSHFORD
ST 01 NW
4/16 Ayshford Court
-
5.4.66
GV II*

Manor house, now divided into 2 houses. The main historic house was built by
various members of the Ashford/Aysford family. Late C15-early C16 with major later
C16 and C17 improvements (the parlour wing possibly 1607 according to a secondary
datestone) and it includes plasterwork dated 1631, some agricultural additions of
circa 1910. The original section has plastered walls, probably cob on stone rubble
footings, the early C17 parlour wing is of coursed blocks of local chert with
Beerstone detail, C19 extensions of stone rubble and brick, much of it plastered;
stone stacks and chimneyshafts, 2 of them Beerstone ashlar; slate roofs.
Plan and development: essentially an L-plan house. The main block faces east-
south-east, say east. At the left (north) end is a 2-room plan former service
extension of circa 1910. There is an axial stack between the 2 rooms and a third
room projecting at right angles to rear. Part of this extension was probably
servant accommodation but some was in agricultural use and it includes a first floor
granary. The rest of the main block is the historic house. Adjoining the extension
is a kitchen with its large axial stack backing onto the extension. Next an
unheated dairy between the kitchen and through passage. At the right (south) end
the former hall with a gable-end stack. Parlour block projecting at right angles to
rear of the hall and it has an end stack (the chamber above has an outer lateral
stack). To rear the passage was extended through a probably C17 stair block built
in the angle of the 2 wings and alongside (behind the dairy) is a small brick
extension of circa 1910. Now the house is divided; the main block in one
occupation, the parlour wing and stair in another.
This is a house with a long and complex structural history. Disregarding the circa
1910 extensions the house is essentially that of circa 1650, maybe even circa 1610,
although the stairs were renewed in the C19. The roof of the main block is smoke-
blackened from end to end indicating that the late C15-early C16 house was an open
nall house divided by low partitions and heated by an open hearth fire. However
there is not enough evidence exposed to determine the precise layout of the original
house. Nor is there sufficient evidence to chart the evolution of the house to its
present form. It may once have been a larger house. Indeed one jointed cruck truss
does survive in the circa 1910 'extension' suggesting that part at least was
included in the C16 house. The house is 2 storeys with disused attics over the
parlour wing.
Exterior: the main block (including the extension) has an irregular 5-window front
of mostly C19 casements with glazing bars. There is however, just right of centre
to the dairy, a Hamstone 3-light window with ovolo-moulded mullions and a hoodmould,
mid or late C17 in date. The passage front doorway is right of centre and it
contains a C19 6-panel door behind a late C19-early C20 slate-roofed porch
containing a round-neaded timber outer arch. The roof is gable-ended. The right
gable-end is blind and a straight join shows in the exposed masonry between the main
block and parlour wing. The parlour wing is taller and has irregular fenestration;
2 ground floor windows and 3 first floor windows. The ground floor right one has
been enlarged to a C20 French window. The rest however are early C17 Beerstone 3-
light windows with ovolo-moulded mullions and all except first floor right have
hoodmoulds. The lateral chimneyshaft on this side is Beerstone ashlar with a frieze
of carved quartrefoils and it is inscribed to the effect that it was built in 1607
and rebuilt in 1910. The roof is steeply-pitched and is hipped each end. The end
chimneyshaft is ashlar with moulded coping. The rear elevation includes a couple of
late C17 oak flat-faced mullion windows containing rectangular panes of leaded glass
(one of them on the stairblock). Also the ground floor window of the kitchen is mid
C16 oak 2-light window with moulded mullion, Tudor arch headed lights and sunken
spandrels. It also has its original vertical glazing bars and saddlebars. The
passage rear doorway (in the stairblock, contains a C19 6-panel door). Alongside it
is a stone inscribed with the date 1594. It may date the stairblock but, since it
is set close to the ground, it is thought to be reset.
Good interior: the oldest feature is the roof of the main block which is carried on
a series of side-pegged jointed cruck trusses with cambered collars which is smoke-
blackened from the original open hearth fire. The oak arch-headed doorframe in the
corridor alongside the dairy may well be original also but is not thought to be in
situ. The other structural features exposed are thought to be early C17. The
kitchen and dairy have a continuous ceiling, carried on 3 crossbeams of large
scantling; all soffit-chamfered with lambstongue stops. The large kitchen
fireplace has been altered a little but still has a massive chamfered and step-
stopped oak lintel. The hall which was refurbished in the C19 when the fireplace
was blocked with a grate. The soffit-chamfered and scroll-stopped crossbeam looks
suspiciously like a Cl7-style replacement. The parlour was refurbished about the
same time and has been subdivided. The fireplace too has been blocked. The parlour
chamber has also been rearranged. Originally it seems there was a closet (a narrow
unheated room) across the outer end but this has been enlarged to a bedroom by
encroaching on the main chamber. This parlour now has its original fireplace off
centre; a pretty Beerstone fireplace with moulded surround and Tudor arch head with
sunken spandrels. This room also contains the remains of a good ornamental
plasterwork ceiling probably of 1631. It has an enriched rib design around an
ornate centrepiece and is enriched with moulded angle sprays.
The finest feature of the house is the coved ceiling of ornamental plasterwork in
the chamber over the hall. It is a particularly fine example and is dated 1631.
Tnere is a projecting moulded frieze around the room. The coved ceiling has a
single rib design enriched with moulded patterns in square panels. Above the frieze
on each end wall, is a moulded plasterwork arcade featuring the Ashford arms and
floral sprays. The fireplace here is blocked but the oak doorframe into the room is
contemporary with the ceiling.
From the left end of the main block front a tall rubble wall projects forward
between the lane and garden.
Ayshford was mentioned in a charter dated 958. It is the Domesday manor of
Aiseforda. For most of its history it was the home of the Ayshford/Ashford family
and. the parlour wing was probably built by Roger Ashford (died 1610) and the
plasterwork was probably commissioned by Arthur Ayshford. The refurbished kitchen
may be contemporary. The owners have a transcript of a fascinating inventory of the
place dated 1689 which shows the great wealth of the family at that time. The
description of the rooms suggests that the house was a little larger then. Also it
is difficult to identify the rooms mentioned with those there now. Nevertheless
identification of the Great parlour and kitchen seems obvious. Much of the fabric
is still hidden and great care should be taken during renovation work. The
inventory for instance mentions a "painted chamber".
Ayshford Court, with its chapel (q.v.) and farmbuildings form a most attractive
group of buildings.


Listing NGR: ST0483315228

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.