Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

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

North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 55576 48041


BERRYNARBOR SS 54 NE 1/31 Watermouth Castle, including front - retaining wall and rear courtyard 9.3.53 walls - II* Country house, built to resemble a castle. 1825-6, completion of interior and alterations to north front in 1845 by George Wightwick; later C19 and C20 alterations, but earlier concealed foundations said to survive in cellars. Unrendered stone rubble with ashlar dressings. Embattled parapets conceal roof. Tall stacks with crenenated caps. The plan hinges on the large impressive entrance stairhall which runs axially through the length of the north-west facing range, which is of 4 bays flanked by projecting turrets, the left-hand turret embellished with an additional smaller polygonal turret at its outer angle. The entrance stairhall, which divides 3 rooms in parallel to front and rear, terminates in entrance doorways at each end, the left (north-east) side being treated as the principal entrance front. Projecting square turrets with small polygonal turrets at their inner angles flank the entrance doorway. To the left, and only a single room deep, is a 3-bay range, the narrow central bay breaking forward to form a clock turret and incorporating postern doorway. This range terminates at the left end in a projecting square turret. To the rear, a parallel range forms an overall 3-sided rear courtyard plan. Originally, this rear courtyard was entirely enclosed but the range on the south- east side, including the square turret at the corner with the parallel rear range, was demolished probably in late C19. Turreted curtain walls at the right end of the north-west range form an additional courtyard incorporating main carriage entrance archway, and are carried round as the buttressed front retaining walls to the castle promontory. Castellated Gothic style. 2 storeys with cellars. All fenestration to the 2 principal fronts have 4-centred arched lights and hoodmoulds with returned ends. The 2 turrets flanking the main porch to the principal entrance front have 3-light windows on each floor and single light windows to the polygonal turrets at the inner angles with stone crests above. The central entrance 4-centred archway, built out in line with the turrets, has a heavily moulded surround with quatrefoil and mouchette decoration to the spandrels and gargoyles flanking the hoodmould. Stone balustrade above pierced with long-lobed quatrefoils. Main door of 2 leaves with Y- bar ribbing. In the recess above the porch is 3-light transomed window with Y- glazing bars, the hoodmould carried up over 2 quatrefoil stone insets. Large stone heraldic crest over. To the left, 2-light windows on each floor flank the projecting clock turret with clock face over a single light window and a central quatrefoil clasping a shield over 4-centred arched doorway with moulded surround and studded door reached by a flight of stone steps. At the left end, the projecting square turret has a 3-light window over a canted bay window of 3 lights with single sidelights and stone parapet pierced by long-lobed quatrefoils. North-west facade has 4-window range of 2-light windows, the ground floor windows transomed except 2nd bay from left which has a canted bay window of 3 lights with single sidelights and stone parapet pierced with quatrefoils. The left-hand turret has a single light window one each floor, the ground floor transomed, and right-hand turret has stone crest above a 2-light over a transomed 3-light window. The opposing rear entrance has a moulded 4-centred arch with crest and stepped gable above. The main carriage entrance incorporated in the rear courtyard walls which have polygonal corner turrets, has a 4-centred arch with quatrefoil decoration to the spandrels, heavy studded doors with portcullis grille above. Over the archway is an heraldic stone panel over a lozenge-shaped stone crest flanked by quatrefoils. Interior: the C19 Gothic decoration of the impressive entrance hall with grand staircase to rear remains intact including trabeated ceiling with carved bosses at the intersections of the moulded beams, dado panelling, Devon marble fireplace and fire basket, and doorcases with crenellations over the panelled cornices and engaged colonnettes flanking 4-centred arched doorways. The central staircase at the rear breaks into 2 flights and has heavy fluted balusters and massive carved newels. The staircase is screened from the rest of the hall by a 3-bay open-traceried screen, the side bays of 6 trefoil-headed lights with quatrefoil traceried heads. The screen supports a minstrels gallery with fluted balusters and crenellated top rails. The balconies to each side have 4-centred arches and balustrades with slender balusters and crenellated hand rails. Principal room to left of hall has ornate geometrical plaster ceiling with acanthus-leaf decoration to the cornice, chinoiserie-style dado panelling, chimneypiece with enriched marble festoon to the mantel and original doors and doorcases. Principal room to right has trabeated ceiling with bosses at the intersections, while the room adjoining has an elaborate plaster ceiling composed of an oval band of oak leaves with inner and outer shaped ribs and crests at the 4 corners. Watermouth Castle was built by the Basset family and remained in the occupation of their descendants until 1946.

Listing NGR: SS5557648041


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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: 30 Dec 2003
Reference: IOE01/10997/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Brian Pearce. Source Historic England Archive
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