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Lee Abbey, with Walls and Gateway

A Grade II Listed Building in Lynton and Lynmouth, Devon

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Latitude: 51.2279 / 51°13'40"N

Longitude: -3.8661 / 3°51'57"W

OS Eastings: 269798

OS Northings: 149283

OS Grid: SS697492

Mapcode National: GBR L0.2SGZ

Mapcode Global: VH4M8.YD0L

Entry Name: Lee Abbey, with Walls and Gateway

Listing Date: 3 September 1973

Last Amended: 9 June 1995

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1201135

English Heritage Legacy ID: 376473

Location: Lynton and Lynmouth, North Devon, Devon, EX35

County: Devon

District: North Devon

Civil Parish: Lynton and Lynmouth

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lynton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Listing Text


858-1/1/64 Lee Abbey, with walls and gateway
(Formerly Listed as:
Lee Abbey)


House, now residential centre for Christian community. Mid
C19, with additions c1920, and entrance tower 1968. Rendered,
some exposed rubble in walls and gatehouse, tile roofs.
PLAN: a complex of buildings; the first unit of the 1850s laid
out around 3 sides of a large courtyard, with an entrance
porch to the N, and a prominent octagonal music room to the
SW. In the 1920s a new range including dining room extended S,
and in 1968 a new 4-storey entrance tower (in exposed textured
concrete) added to the S of this range, by Scarlett, Burkett
Associates. The first plan had a large open-well staircase
immediately to the E of the N porch, and there is a second
principal staircase adjacent to the music room. The entrance
tower links, right, to a very high retaining or boundary wall
running to the S, which has at its outer end, immediately
adjacent to the road, a square gatehouse, also of the 1850
construction period.
EXTERIOR: ranges are mainly 3-storey, with basement to the
earliest part. Windows are generally 2- or 3-light casements
with transoms, many of them late C20 replacements; to the
second floor they are usually contained in small face gables.
The entrance (S) front has the octagonal room to the left,
with crenellated parapet, and a lower square porch with
matching parapet to a wide 4-centred arch. Set back, to the
right, is a 3-storey range of the original building, the top
windows under face gables, and the bays divided by pilasters;
the ground floor steps forward, with a flat roof and
crenellated parapet.
Returning to the right is a 7-bay range in similar detail,
with dividing and corner buttresses and a central 2-storey
porch to crenellated parapet, all of the 1920s, but but
copying detail from the earlier range. The return gable
includes a 2-storey canted bay, and attached right is the 1968
tower with a further entrance under projecting concrete
The W front, facing down to the bay, has a major 3-storey
'hall' range with steep gabled roof to central and end chimney
stacks with octagonal shafts, and a slightly lower range
connecting to the music room, which has a pinnacled buttress
to each of the external angles, and has 3 tall 3-light windows
with flat 4-centred heads to the lights, and with a transom
band in tracery incorporating shields; facing W is a blind
panel, backing the fireplace, and to the left are 2 smaller
windows with similar 'tracery' in the ground floor, with a
4-centred doorway to the left, between paired buttresses and
under a hood.
The N front has a gabled 2-storey porch to the right, with
plank doors in a pointed arch, the original main entry to the
first building, which backs against the high gable of the
'hall' range, facing W. To its left is a 5-bay range,
including a lofty 2-light staircase window with transom.
The courtyard has been partly filled by later building, and is
mainly enclosed across the E side by later C19 additions; at
the junction between E and S sides is a 4-storey square tower,
clearly seen in early views, but nearly concealed by later
INTERIOR: the areas of principal interest are the music room
with adjacent staircase and loggia, and the principal
staircase in the N range. The music room has a ceiling with 8
timber ribs with multiple cusping and pierced spandrels and a
central castellated suspended boss, and there are 4 shields
probably concealing ventilators. The ribs are carried on
clustered Batty Langley-type colonnettes with capitals, and
bases continued as a skirting. The W wall has a large stone
fireplace with 4-centred opening and spandrels with fine
carved leaf decoration, and paired diagonal pilasters to a
floret frieze. The E side has a lofty glazed panel with 2
doors, matching the detail of the windows. Adjacent is a
straight-flight staircase with square newels and splat
balusters to a plain string, through a 4-centred arch with
panelled intrados on corbels; the upper floor flights are in
an open octagon.
From the N side of the music room a Gothick doorway leads to a
long gallery in 3 bays, possibly an open-fronted loggia in the
original plan, with 3 open arches on steps to the right,
opposite the windows. The gallery has a compartmental ceiling
with cusped diagonal ribs and drops, and tiled floor, the
tiles possibly reused medieval ones. The inner room has a
fireplace with 4-centred opening. Beyond is a square salon
with a 9-compartment ceiling with moulded ribs, and a fine
decorative wood fire surround to a rich scrolled frieze on
paired columns.
In the N range is a fine large square open-well staircase with
quarter-landings, and a wrought-iron balustrade with Gothick
detail to a swept handrail. The first and second floors have
Batty Langley slender iron columns, with a 4-compartment
ceiling to moulded ribs. Treads are in stone, with scrolled
intrados. In the top floor of this wing, adjacent to the
staircase, is a simple chapel with collar roof in 6 bays.
Many original doors in 6-panels with moulded architraves
remain throughout the building. In the basement is a series of
segmental barrel vaults on thick walls, with a central cross
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the square gatehouse is in 3 storeys,
with corner buttresses, a string course and plain coping. The
entry arch is in moulded brick to a wide pointed arch, above
which is a 3-light casement with diamond panes in cast-iron;
to the right is a boundary wall, containing a 3-light
casement, and extending approx 30m. The N archway is similar
to the outer one, under a 2-light casement, and the W-facing
wall includes a blocked archway. Connecting this gatehouse to
the late C20 tower is a very lofty rubble wall, with square
buttresses, in 4 panels approx 5m high and 4-and-a-half approx
7m high.
HISTORICAL NOTE: the site was originally owned by the
Cistercians at Forde Abbey, but passed to Nicholas Wichehalse,
a merchant from Barnstaple, in 1559. There was a farmhouse
here, repaired in 1628. The property belonged to a John Short
in 1713, and John Knight in 1730. In 1841 it was purchased by
the Bailey family, who remained in residence until 1921 when
it became a hotel, at which time the main extensions were
built. During the Second World War it became a boys' school,
and in 1945 was acquired by the Christian Fellowship, who
continue to run the property. The additions of 1968 received a
Civic Trust award.

Listing NGR: SS6979849283

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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