Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Somerset (District Authority)
Chilthorne Domer
National Grid Reference:


A pair of semi-detached houses dating from the early to mid-C17; C19 alterations and early-C21 repairs and refurbishment.

Reasons for Designation

1-2 Castle Cottages in Chilthorne Domer is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: for its early date and rarity as a building type as attached houses with a shared lobby entry it will contribute to our understanding of domestic vernacular architecture; * Interior survival: a high proportion of historic features survive, but of particular interest are the rare survivals of back-to-back, timber-framed stacks; * Design: for a vernacular building, the symmetrical and balanced design both externally and internally displays good-quality craftsmanship using local materials.


1-2 Castle Cottages is a pair of semi-detached houses of lobby entrance plan form which date from the early to mid-C17. The building is situated in a slightly elevated position on the west side of the road running through the linear village of Chilthorne Domer. Research by the Somerset Vernacular Building Research Group in 2012 has indicated that the quality of historic features suggests that rather than being built as accommodation for farm labourers it is quite possible that this pair of houses may have been the result of a 'tenure in common', that is as a consequence of two heirs to the land deciding to share the inheritance. The size and layout of the two houses appears to indicate that the occupiers may have been husbandmen or small farmers.

The building is depicted as four dwellings on the Tithe Map of 1842 and also on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1887 and 1903. An analysis of its fabric indicates that its conversion to four units involved the insertion of fireplaces in the end walls, the rebuilding of these walls in stone, and the introduction of additional internal partitions. The building has since reverted to two dwellings which underwent repairs and refurbishment in 2012.


MATERIALS: constructed of roughcast render over cob with coursed Hamstone rubble blocks to the ground floor of the front (east) elevation and the end walls. The hipped roof is clad in double Roman tiles, formerly thatched, and has a central ridge stack and end chimneys all of brick.

PLAN: a pair of two-storey houses facing east onto the road. Each appears to have originally had a mirrored three-room plan (now four) to the ground floor accessed from a shared central lobby entry. The outer rooms or parlours appear to have been unheated but a fireplace was inserted in the end wall of each house when the building was converted to four dwellings; a doorway was also added in the end wall.

EXTERIOR: the building has a near symmetrical front of four bays with a wide central entrance serving both dwellings which is approached by two stone steps. The heavy doorframe has double ovolo mouldings which are eroded, and an early boarded and studded door with cover stops. The windows are timber casements with either ovolo-moulded or flat-chamfered mullions; all are of three lights except for the ground-floor windows to bays two and three which have four lights. To the third bay of the first floor is an oriel window. Each end wall has a C19 doorway with a plank and batten door under a timber lintel, but no window openings. The rear (west) elevation has pairs of two-light timber casements to the ground and first floors of each house; the openings to the first floor appear to have been reduced in width and partially blocked.

INTERIOR: a shared lobby entrance against the axial stack with doorways to the left and right leading into each house. The two central stacks have been built back-to-back and are of a single build. Each has a timber-framed enclosure of rod and daub that is supported on a mantel beam which is in turn supported on chamfered timber posts. The stacks taper as they rise through the building and their internal surfaces have been plastered to provide fire protection to the timbers. The upper parts of the stacks, above the roof level, have been re-built in brick. The central fireplace in No.1 Castle Cottages has been opened up to an large inglenook, while that to No.2 has been reduced slightly in width and contains a range. The fireplace in the end wall of each house is a later addition and has a timber bressumer with brick jambs and a smaller inserted hearth.

A winder stair is situated to side of the central stack in each house. The party wall between the two properties is of cob construction except at the point between the two sets of stairs which is timber-framed and appears to be later infill. During the refurbishment work the position of two further staircases (removed) which were likely to have been added during the building's division into four dwellings was located in the rear corner of the both houses. The C17 carpentry is well-preserved throughout the building. The ceiling beams to both the ground and first floors have deeply chamfered ceiling beam with cyma stops. The post and panel partition between the two main ground-floor rooms of No.1 Castle Cottages has chamfered posts that have step and run out stops at the foot and are tenoned and pegged to the head beam. The partition between the central and rear rooms lacks tenoned posts suggesting that it has been re-sited. The ground-floor partition in No.2 has bead mouldings to both the edges and centre of the posts. The first floor is divided into rooms largely with C19 timber partitions; most of the internal doors are also C19. The roof comprises five principal rafters with cambered collars and tie-beams that are chamfered and have cyma stops at each end. The ridge piece is threaded and there are pairs of butt purlins. Two of the lower purlins on the west-facing side of the roof space retain evidence that there were previously windows here; probably eyebrow dormers. The roof space is boarded throughout with wide boards and a doorway has been created to the side of the stack; the pintles for the door remain.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: to the rear of No.1 is a well with a cast-iron water pump, and at the north-east corner of the building is a short section of attached low Hamstone walling.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Somerset Vernacular Building Research Group, 1 & 2 Castle Cottages, Chilthorne Domer, 2012,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 16 Jan 2001
Reference: IOE01/02932/19
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr Ed Lorch. Source Historic England Archive
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