Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

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

East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SY 03162 94044



3/114 Rockbeare Manor including - terraces adjoining to south 11.11.52 GV I

Large country house. Mid C18, improved circa 1770, remodelled circa 1820 and south wing altered circa 1920 by architect Marley Horder. Stucco on brick and brick stacks with plastered chimney shafts; slate roofs. U-shaped house. Main block faces south and includes a large central heated entrance lobby with full height curving front bays and end stacks. From each end rear blocks project at right angles. The south wing has a corridor along the inner side past 2 2 rooms separated by a circa 1920 cross passage to a front door and at the end is the large dining room with full height curving bows on each side. The northern rear wing extends back the same distance as the south wing. It includes the service rooms, service stair and service door and the kitchen on the end has a full height curving bay on the north side. Both rear wings have projecting end stacks and the ends are connected by a single storey room with inner corridor. The house was raised to 3 storeys circa 1820 but the kitchen and dining room were left at 2 storeys. The kitchen also has a cellar under. The front is flanked by single storey pavilions linked to the main block by large archways. The south pavilion was formerly an orangery. The north pavilion with rear stack and cellar was formerly a billiard room. The attractive west front has a symmetrical 2:3:2 window front as modernised circa 1820. The full height bows have stucco platbands at first floor level. Central part-glazed double doors with reeded doorcase and entablature on shallow console brackets. It is flanked by 12-pane sashes and there is a wide porch across the entire centre bay with pairs of fluted Doric columns and has a moulded entablature. Its flat roof forms a balcony enclosed by ornate cast iron railings. The first floor windows onto the balcony are French windows with louvred shutters. The bays each side have 12-pane sashes over sunken panels containing cast ironwork similar to the balcony. The second floor has 9-pane (3/6) sashes. Moulded timber eaves cornice below a plain parapet which is carried round the return walls. Roof is hipped both ends and so too are the ends of the rear blocks and rear kitchen and dining room have flat roofs. 2 C18 water colours inside the house show the house before its Regency alterations. Its 2-storey Palladian front is missing the bays and there is a central pediment over the central 3 windows and a cupola. The pavilions survive from this phase. Both have identical gabled fronts with moulded eaves cornice over large Venetian windows containing a sash with glazing bars. The connecting round-headed archways have stucco keystones. The door to the northern partition inside the archway is mid C18 with fielded panels. The southern pavilion has a rear chimney shaft but it is false and for symmetry. In the rear wall here the centre is broken forward and contains French windows with a fanlight over all with glazing bars. There are another 3 similar on the outer side. These are probably circa 1820. The south front is simple and has a regular but not symmetrical 7/3 window front. The main part has 12-pane sashes to ground and first floor with 9-pane sashes to the second. Some of the windows at the left end are blind with painted glazing bars. The circa 1920 south doorway has a glazed door with an overlight with glazing bars made up of intersecting circles. Above is a nowy-headed slate sundial dated 1914. Towards the left end a chimney shaft rises from a shaped base and has soffit- Chamfered coping. (There is another in a similar position on the north side). The bowed 3-window section, though lower, has taller windows, ground floor 12-pane sashes and first floor 9-pane sashes under sunken panels in the parapet. The north front has a similar 3:7-window front but here the bay has 20-pane and 16-pane sashes, and the rest have smaller ground floor 20-pane sashes with 12-pane sashes above and again some of the right end windows are blind. The rear end has some 12- pane sashes at first floor level and across the connection wing are 3 round-headed sashes with glazing bars. The inner sides of the wings both include a tripartite and other sashes. The rear of the main block has a large round-headed sash in which the upper glazing bars intersect in Gothic fashion. Good interior: mostly Regency features of circa 1820 but some C18 features show in the south wing. A couple of the chimneypieces here though may not be in situ. At the rear is the splendid Dining Room of circa 1770, the best room in the house and a remarkable example of its period by any standards. Bowed each end it is richly and colourfully decorated (with some furniture and Axminster carpet to match). The walls are lined with large field panels over a moulded dado. A large Ionic column with apricot-coloured scagliola shaft stands in each corner. The architraves include marbled flutes of the same apricot stone although that on the chimneypiece is darker and redder in colour. The chimneypiece comprises flanking fluted Ionic columns surmounted by vases on the moulded entablature which is in the style of the ceiling cornice and including a central plaque carved as a scene of sacrifice. It is however the ornamental plasterwork which is the most important element in the room. It comprises Adam-like scrolls on the ceiling but the arrangement of the panels is individualistic. The northern bow and the western long wall contain moulded plaster reliefs of large hanging lamps enriched with dolphins and incorporating lamp brackets. Above the chimneypiece is a large medallion including a bas relief of a classical scene representing the sacrifice of a bull. It is surrounded with nut hust decoration and a festoon of glass-like foliage tied up at the top in an Adamish bow. The work as a whole is certainly very high quality, but the concept is a little quirky in places and the plasterwork of higher relief than is usual at the time. It may be the work of one of Adams' London rivals or maybe a competent provincial imitator. The main stair in the front wing rises in broad flights around 3 sides of the large stair hall. It has an open string with carved and shaped stair brackets, walnut veneer flat-moulded handrail and each tread has 3 different turned mahogany balusters with blocks. It is undeniably mid C18 in style but it is oddly-proportioned and may have been rebuilt as part of the circa 1820 refurbishment. Many of the rooms have good Regency details and most of the contemporary chimneypieces are marble and include their original cast iron grates. The drawing room over the entrance hall is a particularly fine example. It includes an orange-yellow marble chimneypiece enriched with a white marble urn and drapery, modillioned doorcases, panelled shuttering to this room was alleviated by clever trompe l'oeuil painting of a classical arcade around the room; this was done circa 1920. A main bedroom alongside has very fine C19 wallpaper and one of the lesser bedrooms on the top floor of the main block was done out like a tent circa 1820. The vaulted ceiling and walls have red-striped Regency wallpaper with a series of knots along the cornice. At one end the wallpaper is folded back to create the impression of a tent opening onto a painted scene of sea, sky and gulls. On the south side low terraces extend round formal lawns. These were probably rebuilt circa 1920 but include 6 C18 stone vases. This is an important country house which is most attractively sited in landscaped grounds. It looks particularly charming from the south-west as meadows rise gradually towards the front. Despite the 1920 modernisation the house looks, both internally and externally, as though little has happened here since circa 1820. There are no later external accretions and the nearby C18 stables and coach house (q.v.) with the early C19 model farmyard (q.v.) behind only contribute to the period atmosphere. The intact decorative scheme of the circa 1770 dining room is of considerable interest. There is nothing quite like it in Devon. It looks somewhat rustic when compared with Wyatt's Music Room, Powderham, perhaps its nearest comparison. It is not known whether the Duntze family had the property when the original house was built but it was owned by Sir John Duntze in 1760. The Duntze family in the late C17 and early C18 were wealthy Exeter merchants and their early C18 town house survives, 143 Fore Street. Sources: Christopher Hussey, Rockbeare Manor, Devonshire, Parts I and II. Country Life. Vol 67, (1930), pp 570-576, 642-648. Bridget Cherry (Joint Editor, Penguin's The Buildings of England), manuscript notes and personal comments. Marked as Rockbeare House on OS map.

Listing NGR: SY0316294044


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

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Books and journals
'Country Life' in Country Life, (1930), 642-648
'Country Life' in Country Life, (1930), 570-576
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 11 Devon,


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