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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of GREAT POTHERIDGE
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Statutory Address:

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

Torridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 51377 14665


MERTON SS 51 NW 7/140 Great Potheridge 16.1.52 GV I

Country house, downgraded to farmhouse now being used by Bicton College of Agriculture. Rebuilt by George Monk circa 1660-70 then largely demolished in 1734 and subsequently altered with minor additions made. Walls are of stone ashlar at the front, squared rubble to the sides and rubble at the rear. Slate roof hipped on all sides apart from gable to rear wing. 2 good original axial stacks of stone ashlar with moulded dripcourses and a tall C18 brick lateral stack at side of rear wing. Plan: What survives of the original house is an L-shaped block with a larger front range consisting of a sizeable heated room to the right with a smaller room in front and a stairhall too its left through which the house is now entered. To the left of that is a very small room with service rooms behind. The wing behind the left-hand side consists of one large heated room. Minor single storey C19 additions have been made at the rear of the front range for service purposes and its large right-hand room has been subdivided. The original plan of the house is extremely problematic due to its having been drastically reduced in size and the remaining building not making much sense on its own. Any interpretation can only be hypothetical and it would need an archaeological survey to reveal the original extent of the house. That the house always had its principal front to the south seems evident since its best stonework is on this side, it is the most favourable aspect and there is a large garden area bounded by a C17 stone wall. However, the doorway at the front of the stairhall is likely to be an insertion as it opens under the stairs rather than facing them and this suggests that the principal entrance was into the now demolished section. From the evidence of fragmentary walls this was to the west of the surviving range - at the rear of which, a wall which has been reduced in height is obviously continuous with the side of the house, returns - in more fragmentary form - to the west and then extends back to the south, ending in a small ruinous building. Although it is highly conjectural the most likely explanation is that the recessed ruinous wall formed a central entrance range with another, apparently smaller, wing extending more or less parallel to the south with the existing range. There are still many anomalies, however, particularly since the staircase does not appear to fit perfectly in its place and the purpose of the 2 surviving principal rooms is unclear. Exterior: 2 storeys. Almost symmetrical 5 window front of earlier C20 2-light wooden mullion and transom windows. The central window on each floor is blocked. Flat stone arches above windows and moulded stringcourse between floor. To left of centre is C18 or early C19 porch with pedimented timber hood on wooden Tuscan columns, infilled with later wooden panelling with 4-centred arch at front. Sprocketted eaves with moulded cornice on carved acanthus leaf brackets with a plain modillion cornice at the sides. Left-hand side wall has a C19 mullion and transom window on each floor towards the left-hand end and is a very small C20 light to right on the ground floor. The stringcourse is not only continuous from the front but also extends along the reduced height wall to the rear of this end. This wall has 2 blocked window openings with dressed stone arches and a doorway to the left. Projecting to the west from this wall and parallel to the front of the house is another low wall of dressed stone rubble with evidence of low window openings. This extends to meet another wall opposite the side of the house whose blocked window openings correspond to those on the reduced height wall at the rear of the house. This wall terminates in a small outbuilding whose southern facing wall is partly of the same stone ashlar as the front of the house. The right-hand, eastern, elevation of the house is 3 windows wide also with 2-light mullion and transom windows, the central first floor opening blocked. These are C19 or early C20 apart from the 2 right-hand original C17 ground floor windows which have very heavy wooden frames and mullions, chamfered on the inside. The stringcourse continues around this side and the rear of the house. The rear elevation is also 3 windows wide with a C19 outshut and single storey wing built in front of the ground floor. Original 3-light leaded pane mullion and transom window to left with contemporary 2-light one to its right which is not leaded. Beyond that is a blocked mullion and transom window which may also be original. The inner face of the rear wing has a C19 mullion and transom window to the right on first floor and blocked opening to its left. All the window openings at the side and rear have the same dressed stone flat arches. Extending to the rear (north) of the house is a single storey outbuilding built against the wall which was reduced in height, which has a stringcourse along its end wall and a blocked window opening. Interior: The front right-hand room has large fireplace with cambered and chamfered wooden lintel which is ogee-stopped and rests on a curved wooden corbel and dressed stone rubble jamb to the left, replaced granite jamb to the right with oven behind. Small section of herring-bone pattern stone at the back of the fireplace. Of the 2 original mullion and transom windows the right-hand one retains probably contemporary heavy fielded panel shutters, those to the left-hand window are C19 replacements. Very grand original dog-leg staircase with long closed string flights of tapered balusters with carved acanthus leaves at the bottom; very heavy moulded handrail and large square newels with recessed panels. The 2 newels on the half-landing fit awkwardly together and it is likely the staircase has been moved from the demolished section. The very good painted plaster ceiling above it might therefore have been for a 1st floor chamber and has 3 panels with very robust circular garlands of high relief fruit and foliage and strips of similar decoration in between the panels. The paintings appear to be of classical themes depicting cherubs and female figures although in places some touching-up seems to have occured. Around the ceiling is an egg and dart cornice. The other notable room is in the rear wing and contains good quality C17 panelling and an exceptional carved wooden overmantle - both however appear to have been re-used since the panelling does not fit correctly and the massive overmantle, set above a corner fireplace, overpowers the relatively modest-sized room. The panelling is 5 sections high with sunken moulded panels and fluted Ionic pilasters. The frieze is also fluted with consoles and a modillion cornice above. Opposite the fireplace the central panel has a carved strapwork device. The 2 opposing doorcases are very imposing, surmounted by segmental pediments with a strapwork shield which has carved decoration around it. The far doorway has unfortunately lost its pediment - though it survives in a fragmented state - and there is in fact no doorway behind it but a solid exterior wall. The fireplace has huge wooden consoles with carved acanthus leaves to either side. Above is the wooden overmantle carved very robustly with various military trophies and devices, and 3 putti with a crown at the top - refering presumably to General Monk's part in restoring the monarchy. The cornice at its top is above the level of that of the panelling. Other C17 fragments surviving are a heavy moulded cornice and bolection moulded dado to the principal first floor room and cornice to its small adjoining room. At the top of the staircase are heavy fielded 8-panel doors. Leading to the attic is a small section of C17 staircase with turned and moulded balusters. Roof: The original principal rafters survive, extending over a considerable span. They have curved feet resting on tie-beams and with straight morticed collars and trenched purlins. The Monk's owned Great Potheridge as early as Henry II's reign. George Monk, restorer of the monarchy and first Duke of Albermarle, was reputedly born here in 1608 and rebuilt the house on a grand scale. After the death of the second duchess the house was partly demolished in 1734. All the evidence suggests that Great Potheridge was once a very important house, rebuilt by one of the most eminent men of the time. It appears that only a fragment remains but this still gives an impression of its former greatness and constitutes an important survival both historically and architecturally.

Listing NGR: SS5137714665


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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.

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