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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of LEE ABBEY, WITH WALLS AND GATEWAY
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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)
Lynton and Lynmouth
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 69798 49283



SS64NE LEE ABBEY 858-1/1/64 Lee Abbey, with walls and gateway 03/09/73 (Formerly Listed as: LYNTON Lee Abbey)


House, now residential centre for Christian community. Mid C19, with additions c1920, and entrance tower 1968. Rendered, some exposed rubble in walls and gatehouse, tile roofs. PLAN: a complex of buildings; the first unit of the 1850s laid out around 3 sides of a large courtyard, with an entrance porch to the N, and a prominent octagonal music room to the SW. In the 1920s a new range including dining room extended S, and in 1968 a new 4-storey entrance tower (in exposed textured concrete) added to the S of this range, by Scarlett, Burkett Associates. The first plan had a large open-well staircase immediately to the E of the N porch, and there is a second principal staircase adjacent to the music room. The entrance tower links, right, to a very high retaining or boundary wall running to the S, which has at its outer end, immediately adjacent to the road, a square gatehouse, also of the 1850 construction period. EXTERIOR: ranges are mainly 3-storey, with basement to the earliest part. Windows are generally 2- or 3-light casements with transoms, many of them late C20 replacements; to the second floor they are usually contained in small face gables. The entrance (S) front has the octagonal room to the left, with crenellated parapet, and a lower square porch with matching parapet to a wide 4-centred arch. Set back, to the right, is a 3-storey range of the original building, the top windows under face gables, and the bays divided by pilasters; the ground floor steps forward, with a flat roof and crenellated parapet. Returning to the right is a 7-bay range in similar detail, with dividing and corner buttresses and a central 2-storey porch to crenellated parapet, all of the 1920s, but but copying detail from the earlier range. The return gable includes a 2-storey canted bay, and attached right is the 1968 tower with a further entrance under projecting concrete canopy. The W front, facing down to the bay, has a major 3-storey 'hall' range with steep gabled roof to central and end chimney stacks with octagonal shafts, and a slightly lower range connecting to the music room, which has a pinnacled buttress to each of the external angles, and has 3 tall 3-light windows with flat 4-centred heads to the lights, and with a transom band in tracery incorporating shields; facing W is a blind panel, backing the fireplace, and to the left are 2 smaller windows with similar 'tracery' in the ground floor, with a 4-centred doorway to the left, between paired buttresses and under a hood. The N front has a gabled 2-storey porch to the right, with plank doors in a pointed arch, the original main entry to the first building, which backs against the high gable of the 'hall' range, facing W. To its left is a 5-bay range, including a lofty 2-light staircase window with transom. The courtyard has been partly filled by later building, and is mainly enclosed across the E side by later C19 additions; at the junction between E and S sides is a 4-storey square tower, clearly seen in early views, but nearly concealed by later constructions. INTERIOR: the areas of principal interest are the music room with adjacent staircase and loggia, and the principal staircase in the N range. The music room has a ceiling with 8 timber ribs with multiple cusping and pierced spandrels and a central castellated suspended boss, and there are 4 shields probably concealing ventilators. The ribs are carried on clustered Batty Langley-type colonnettes with capitals, and bases continued as a skirting. The W wall has a large stone fireplace with 4-centred opening and spandrels with fine carved leaf decoration, and paired diagonal pilasters to a floret frieze. The E side has a lofty glazed panel with 2 doors, matching the detail of the windows. Adjacent is a straight-flight staircase with square newels and splat balusters to a plain string, through a 4-centred arch with panelled intrados on corbels; the upper floor flights are in an open octagon. From the N side of the music room a Gothick doorway leads to a long gallery in 3 bays, possibly an open-fronted loggia in the original plan, with 3 open arches on steps to the right, opposite the windows. The gallery has a compartmental ceiling with cusped diagonal ribs and drops, and tiled floor, the tiles possibly reused medieval ones. The inner room has a fireplace with 4-centred opening. Beyond is a square salon with a 9-compartment ceiling with moulded ribs, and a fine decorative wood fire surround to a rich scrolled frieze on paired columns. In the N range is a fine large square open-well staircase with quarter-landings, and a wrought-iron balustrade with Gothick detail to a swept handrail. The first and second floors have Batty Langley slender iron columns, with a 4-compartment ceiling to moulded ribs. Treads are in stone, with scrolled intrados. In the top floor of this wing, adjacent to the staircase, is a simple chapel with collar roof in 6 bays. Many original doors in 6-panels with moulded architraves remain throughout the building. In the basement is a series of segmental barrel vaults on thick walls, with a central cross passage. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the square gatehouse is in 3 storeys, with corner buttresses, a string course and plain coping. The entry arch is in moulded brick to a wide pointed arch, above which is a 3-light casement with diamond panes in cast-iron; to the right is a boundary wall, containing a 3-light casement, and extending approx 30m. The N archway is similar to the outer one, under a 2-light casement, and the W-facing wall includes a blocked archway. Connecting this gatehouse to the late C20 tower is a very lofty rubble wall, with square buttresses, in 4 panels approx 5m high and 4-and-a-half approx 7m high. HISTORICAL NOTE: the site was originally owned by the Cistercians at Forde Abbey, but passed to Nicholas Wichehalse, a merchant from Barnstaple, in 1559. There was a farmhouse here, repaired in 1628. The property belonged to a John Short in 1713, and John Knight in 1730. In 1841 it was purchased by the Bailey family, who remained in residence until 1921 when it became a hotel, at which time the main extensions were built. During the Second World War it became a boys' school, and in 1945 was acquired by the Christian Fellowship, who continue to run the property. The additions of 1968 received a Civic Trust award.

Listing NGR: SS6979849283


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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: 12 Aug 2002
Reference: IOE01/08593/14
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Brian R. Screaton. Source Historic England Archive
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