This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.
GITTISHAM COMBE SY 19 NW
7/143 Combe House(formerly listed 22.2.55 as Combe)
Hotel, formerly the home of the Beaumonts, Putts and Markers: the latter still own Combe House and the Combe estate. Medieval origins, remodelled in the C17, C18 and C19. Rendered, with a slate roof; stacks, some with rendered shafts, some with renewed octagonal brick shafts with moulded cornices.
Plan and development: Approximately H plan, facing west. The late C17 hall is in the centre block with a small entrance hall to the right (south) and a C17 stair hall to the left (north). The south crosswing, heavily remodelled in the early C19, contains 2 principal rooms to the front including the former dining room and a former kitchen to the rear. To the left of the main range a front wing at right angles is fitted out as the C18 morning room and may have been the medieval inner room. The north crosswing, which adjoins this wing, is unusual in that the front block is set at a slight angle- this contains a fine C18 parlour on the ground floor. The rear (east) section of the wing is not continuous with the angled block and is conventionally aligned with the rest of the house, it now functions as a service wing.
The development of the plan is complicated and discussed in detail by Christopher Hussey in his 1955 articles in Country Life. The medieval origins of the house are evident from an ogee-headed doorframe discovered in the north side partition of the present hall. The doorframe is no longer visible but suggests that the late C17 hall is the result of successive remodellings of a medieval original. The house must have been substantial in the C16 since the Beaumonts are said to have "lived at Combe in great splendour and esteem for three generations" (Hussey, probably quoting Prince).
The last Beaumont died in 1591. By this stage the hall had probably received the transomed windows and attic dormers shown on a survey plan of circa 1787 unless these alterations were carried out by Nicholas Putt, who bought Combe in 1615. Major work including the remodelling of the hall and the fine staircase was undertaken by Sir Thomas Putt, described by one of the family as "an extravagant man" (Polwhele), who succeeded in 1605 and died 1686. Late C18 refurbishment of a very high quality in the 2 north west wings is associated with Black Tom Putt, who succeeded in 1757. 3 late C18 illustrations and a plan show the outlines of the house much as it is at present, before the conservative remodelling for the Reverend Thomas Putt who succeeded in 1812. He remodelled the south crosswing, added an extra storey to the hall range and introduced an open well stair behind the entrance hall, rejecting the plans for more extensive alterations which had been drawn up by Sir John Soane in 1805 for Reymundo Putt. The sash windows shown in the late C18 illustrations were mostly replaced and subsequently altered to stone mullioned windows in the late C19.
Exterior: 2 storeys and attic. Asymmetrical 1:1:4:1 bay front, the 4-bay main range flanked by the gable ends of the wings, the angled wing at the extreme left. The gables, including 2 in the centre, are crowned by carved finials. Early C19 gabled Gothick porch to right of centre with diagonal buttresses with set-offs and big pinnacles, ogee-headed moulded exterior doorframe with a hoodmould. Late C19 fenestration: 3 ground floor 3-light stone mullioned windows with 2 transoms: 4 first floor 2-light transomed mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, the window above the porch is blocked. C18 downpipes with rainwater heads. The 2 flanking wings have set back buttresses. The inner return of the north wing is blind; the south wing has 2 blocked 2-light mullioned windows with cusped heads. The gable ends of the wings have mullioned widows with hoodmoulds: 4-light and transomed to the ground floor (blocked to the south wing); similar smaller 4-light first floor window, 2-light mullioned attic windows with hoodmoulds. The angled outer north wing has a C19 parapet with a moulded cornice and a 2-storey canted bay of at least C18 origins but with late C19 transomed and mullioned windows which descend to flank the Gothic style Tudor arched doorway with a 2-leaf door. The left (north) return of the north crosswing has a C19 porch, partly blocked in, to the side entrance and mostly C20 casements beyond. The right return of the south crosswing is symmetrical to the west, and largely of the early C19 in form but with late C19 fenestration. 5 symmetrical bays to the left, gabled to the south to left and right with left and right buttresses and a pair of buttresses flanking the centre bay. 2-light transomed windows with hoodmoulds to the ground and first floor; 2-light attic windows with Tudor arches and chamfered frames. The service wing, to the right is slightly set back and crowned with a bellcote, with a mixture of C19 and C20 sashes and casements.
On the ground floor, an early C19 side entrance with a massive flat porch canopy on shaped brackets. A large tall, round-headed window with original glazing bars lights the kitchen. The rear elevation of the house has a variety of mostly C20 timber casements with glazing bars. A 3-light pointed traceried window lights the stair hall. It is difficult to date: some of the masonry may be medieval but the tracery is unconventional; it is glazed with C18 painted glass. Glazed lantern to main range, lighting the C19 stair well behind the entrance hall.
Interior: Rich in C17, C18 and C19 fittings. The late C17 hall is very fine with bolection-moulded wainscot panelling and 2-leaf doors at each end with splendid doorcases with broken pediments on consoles. The panelling incorporates a built in case for a weight-actuated clock, the weights enclosed in a fixed cupboard. The clock itself is missing. Hussey considers this "a probably unique transitional form between the hanging clock and the long-case or grandfather - that replaced it in the last quarter of the 17th Century" (Country Life, June 16, 1955, p. 1557). Massive bolection-moulded chimney-piece with an eared architrave and a bolection-moulded panel above flanked by Corinthian pilasters decorated with swags of fruit; Dutch- style tiles line the hearth. The ceiling is probably early C18 with moulded ribs in a panelled design enriched with floral motifs in roundels and a boldly-projecting dentil cornice with an egg and dart frieze. The stair hall is also decorated with plaster panelling including round-headed niches. Grand open well stair of the late C17 with a closed string, square-section newel posts crowned with vases of flowers, a flat-topped handrail and big turned balusters decorated with egg and dart and cable moulding. 2-leaf door to the hall with an eared architrave and cornice; probably original paved floor; C18 painted glass in the stair window rather similar to a Peckitt design in character, with Gothick painted tracery. The 2 west rooms in the north wings have C18 fittings: they are linked by a passage at the west. The southern room has a circa 1760 Rococo plaster ceiling and a decorated cornice and frieze. The chimney-piece, white marble with terms on the jambs, is probably, C19.
The northern room, set at a slight angle has an exquisite Rococo chimney-piece "a masterpiece of its genre" (Hussey), incorporating an oval mirror. The lintel and jambs are marble, the lintel scalloped. The pine frame to the fireplace and the mirror is delicately carved with flowers, birds and a fox. Doorcases with broken pediments include friezes matching the chimney-piece and the long-necked birds in the decorated plaster ceiling also seem to have been inspired by the chimney-piece. The ceiling has a central roundel with wreaths of pears, grapes and roses. The 2 early C19 rooms in the south crosswing have marble chimney-pieces, plaster cornices and Jacobean style decorated ceilings, possibly in pressed paper. The former dining room, to the right, has oak and pine panelled wainscotting. The entrance hall has a boldly-projecting C18 dentil cornice; C19 open well top-lit stair behind with turned balusters. The old kitchen at the east end of the south wing, retains an early C19 kitchen fireplace. Several rooms on the first floor with good cornices, bolection- moulded dados and late C17 and later chimney-pieces. Brick-vaulted cellars survive below the south crosswing.
Roof: Partially inspected. Trusses seen over the main range and south crosswing are of an early C19 character but early timbers may survive in the north wings.
An outstanding country house with high quality interior features. Group value with associated buildings. The gardens at Combe are grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic interest in England, Ref: SY 1497 G132.
Hussey, Christopher, 'Combe', Country Life, June 9, 1955, 1486, 1486-1489; June 16, 1955, 1556-1559.
Polwhele, Richard, History of Devonshire (first edn. 1793), vol. II, p. 323-325.
A watercolour by the Reverend John Swete is in his Devon Tour, vol. 9 (1793), p. 55.
Photographs in the NMR.
Listing NGR: SY1432997851
© Mr Anthony Aaben-Reader. Source: Historic England Archive
This photograph was taken for the Images of England project
People & Organisations
Photographer: Aaben-Reader, Anthony
Rights Holder: Aaben-Reader, Anthony
Render, Slate, Medieval Cross Wing House, Tudor Monument <By Form>, Elizabethan Hall House, House, Domestic, Dwelling, Service Wing, Hostel, Commercial, Residential Building, Bell Tower, Religious Ritual And Funerary
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