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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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Torridge (District Authority)
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PETROCKSTOWE SS 41 SE 4/47 Little Marland - 4.10.60 - II* Farmhouse. Circa 1500 - 1525 with C17 addition, late C18 and mid C19 alterations. Walls are of small roughly squared coursed rubble. Slate roof hipped to left end, gabled to right. 2 axial brick stacks, I rendered brick stack at left end and rear lateral rubble stack with C19 brick shaft. Plan: complex evolution of plan, the original form of which is not entirely clear. Almost certainly orginated as 3 rooms with through-passage but the actual layout of rooms - which is the higher and lower end - only becomes clear once the roof is examined. There are actually 2 passages on the ground floor with the original hall between them and a room at either end beyond each passage. The right-hand passage contains an inserted C19 staircase. There are in fact 2 rooms beyond this passage - the end room is reached now only from the outside and is very narrow with a fireplace in its end wall but the partition dividing it from the adjoining room is an insertion although the ground level appears to drop noticeably. Behind the hall is a lean-to incorporating a C19 staircase. At the rear of the left-hand room is a long wing at present used for storage divided into 2 rooms and without a fireplace. The partition wall however is a C19 or early C20 insertion and a good moulded C17 doorway and mullion window suggest that the wing did not originate as an outbuilding. A basic sequence of development can be deduced by fairly careful examination of the house and its features but only a measured survey would reveal the precise pattern of its evolution. The roof timbers give a relatively clear indication of the positions of hall, passage, lower room and inner room by their degree of decoration. The richly carved timbers are over the former open hall as might be expected, to their right a moulded truss probably indicates the position of a gallery supported on the carved jetty beam visible in the hall below. Beyond that the trusses are simply chamfered which suggest lower end status. This identifies the passage with the inserted staircase, towards the right-hand end, as the original one. A solid full-height wall divides the hall from higher end which, judging from its moulded beams, was considered to be of higher status than the lower end. None of the roof timbers appear to be smoke-blackened raising the question of whether the house ever did have an open hall or whether there was a 1st floor "great chamber" which merited the use of decorated roof trusses. In fact, the lack of early ceiling beams to the hall -apart from the carved beam at the right end which strongly suggests a jetty points to an open hall with original rear lateral fireplace. This is supported by the fragment of what appears to be an early C16 carved 4-centred wooden fireplace lintel found by the present owners when alterations were made to the hall fireplace. It is quite possible that a great chamber did exist as an original feature but it is more likely to have been over the inner room where the roof timbers are moulded and a C16 fireplace survives on the first floor in the wall adjoining the hall. Presuming that there was a jetty or gallery at the lower end of the hall the lower room was most likely floored and some suggestive evidence for this can be found in the survival of C16 moulded ceiling beams in the right-hand end room although one seems to have been re-used. It is uncertain when the hall was floored as no ceiling beams are visible there. However the C19 staircase in the outshut to the rear of the hall probably replaces an earlier one and 2 C17 doorframes at the top one of them leading to the 1st floor room of the C17 rear wing which has a good quality fireplace. There is no further clue to the purpose of this long rear wing as it is featureless on the ground floor inside. Quite likely it served purely a service function, although the arrangement of rooms in it remains a puzzle. In 1799 the house was re-fronted and probably remodelled internally to create another passage at the higher end of the hall. In the circa mid C19 some of the carved timbers were removed from the roof to make up a chimneypiece for the hall fireplace and other refurbishments were made inside probably including the insertion of the staircase in the original passage. The rear stair projection was rebuilt in the C19 as a large outshut. Few significant alterations have been made since the C19. Exterior: 2 storeys. Asymmetrical 4-window front. Windows on 1st floor and ground floor to left and right are tripartite sashes, all late C18 apart from one early - mid C20 copy on the 1st floor to right of centre and on ground floor to right. 2 early C19 16-pane sashes at centre on ground floor, the left-hand one is in a blocked wider opening. To the right on each floor is a blocked opening with wooden lintel. A straight joint marks the line of an addition near the left-hand end. Late C18 flat doorhood with moulded cornice to right of centre. C20 replacement wooden piers. Late C18 6-panel door behind it. Contemporary or early C19 narrower 6-panel door towards left-hand end. Below the 1st floor window to left of centre is datestone reading 1799. Rear elevation has lean-to at centre and long rear wing projecting from right end of house. This has a C17 moulded wooden square-headed doorway towards its inner end and later probably inserted doorway to the right. On the end wall of the wing is a C17 2-light wooden mullion window which was originally 4 lights - it has a moulded frame with chamfered mullion. Interior: hall fireplace surround is made up of richly carved timbers removed from the roof structure consisting mainly of slightly curving arch braces with bosses at the top corners. The partition at the right end of the hall - at present wall papered - consists of good quality C17 panelling. Above this partition is a richly decorated half-beam carved with foliage, heraldic beasts and shields. A carved cornice continues around the top of the walls but this may be C19. Similarly the C19 6-panelled doors have carved wooden architraves which may either be reused from the roof or C19. The lower end has a fireplace with moulded granite jambs and chamfered lintel. There is a moulded half beam at the front of this room and a similar central beam which may have been reused since its soffit is depressed as if to take a partition. At the head of the rear staircase is a C17 square-headed ovolo and cavetto moulded wooden doorframe. There is a similar doorway leading from the stairs to the inner 1st floor room of the wing with contemporary studded plank door. This room has a C17 fireplace with ovolo-moulded wooden lintel. In the main range the 1st floor room to left of centre has a C16 triple moulded wooden lintel, the jambs have probably been rebuilt. Roof: the roof is a remarkable survival of a 12-bay medieval structure of an extremely high quality. It is divided into 2 sections - 1 over the inner room and 1 over the hall and lower end - by a full height solid wall. The latter roof is of 9 bays with 10 closely-spaced trusses. The 5 arch-braced trusses over the hall have richly carved decoration on their soffits with the ridge and purlins also decorated. The arch braces have been removed from 2 trusses and a date in the 1840's on one of the trusses may indicate the date when this occurred. At the lower end of the hall is another arch-braced truss with cyma mouldings which faces the carved trusses and was probably above the gallery. There is a very narrow bay then to the next truss which is of slightly cruder construction though still arch-braced and chamfered on the soffit. This narrow bay relates to the through-passage below. There are 3 more identical trusses over the lower end. To all the trusses the collars are morticed and cranked and the purlins threaded, with diagonal ridge. The separate roof over the higher end is 3 more bays with arch-braced trusses, purlins and ridge which are cavetto moulded. Generally the feet of the trusses are not visible but where they are they appear to be curved. The roof over the rear wing may be C17 or later and consists of straight principals with lapped and pegged collars. In the earlier C20 a medieval stained glass window was removed from the house to the rebuilt Heanton Satchville in Huish parish of whose estate Little Marland was formerly a part. This is one of the most important medieval farmhouse in North Devon preserving a remarkably complete elaborate roof structure but also preserving good features from subsequent periods and surviving in an unspoilt condition with a very attractive traditional late C18 facade.

Listing NGR: SS4987212011


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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

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Date: 07 Sep 2005
Reference: IOE01/14685/20
Rights: © Mr Sid Ellott. Source: Historic England Archive
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