This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 21/10/2019
THE BOROUGH (North side, off)
Country house. Circa 1590-1601, remodelled 1785-87. Probably by William Arnold for Sir Edward Phelips. Ham stone ashlar; Welsh slate roofs behind open balustered parapets with obelisk finials, coped gables, some Dutch style; ashlar chimney stacks, including plain stacks set diagonally and Doric columns. H-plan; three storeys, attic and basement.
East elevation original entrance facade; thirteen bays, of which outer and centre bays project; plinth, string courses, open parapets; hollow-chamfer mullioned and transomed windows set in wave mould recesses; outer bays have angled 1+5+1-light bay windows of two storeys, crowned with segmental pediments; above five-light windows, and then three-light attic windows with labels in Dutch gables; in returns six- and four-light windows; the windows in crosswing of three-, three-, five-, three- and three-lights either side of central bay, two lower floors double-transomed; the lower five-light windows project slightly under pediments at first floor level; centre bay has four-light windows, and three-light on returns to first and second floors; former entrance has a semi-circular arched doorway with lozenge decorated imposts and keystone, with small plaque over; parapet over this and over the five window bays semi-circular arched with statue in niche to centre bay; statues in shell-head niches between all second floor windows, circular niches under principal first floor windows, and pairs shell-head niches with seats at ground floor level.
West elevation, now principal entrance, added 1785-87, possibly designed by Edward Phelips and a local builder, and incorporating major fragments of Clifton Maybank House, Yeovil, of c1546-64 also thirteen bays, of which bays 1/3 and 11/13 are surviving C16 work, with four-light mullioned and transomed windows, plus three-light to attics in Dutch gables; bays two, three and eleven and twelve extended to accommodate stairs, with matching windows at staggered levels; the remainder recessed; the second floor set back again, bays five and nine have four-light windows to two lower levels; second floor windows, of three lights, are to bays four, six, eight and ten, gables with chimneys to bays five and nine: porch to bay seven, three storeys, has moulded four-centre arch to open porch, and matching inner doorway; above an elaborately carved heraldic panel, originally for Clifton Maybank, but with Phelips arms substituted, then two three-light windows and a stepped gable; centre section with reclaimed fluted pilaster shafts with heraldic beasts on the parapets.
North and south elevations almost identical, four bays to match, with composite oriel windows of 2+6+2 wide lights, the outer pairs double transomed and flat, the centre semi-circular on plan and quadruple-transomed, with Dutch gable over these.
Inside, a vaulted cross-entrance lobby, a screens passage, with stone screen to north, and panelled hall with plaster frieze, fireplace and decorative plasterwork panel, all early C17; to south the dining room, reshaped in C19, and also has wallpaper and a fireplace from Coleshill House, Berkshire; south west parlour has C16 chimney piece, freize and panelling. Stairs, bays 2/3 and 11/12 west elevation, original, 2.15 m wide round central stone core. On first floor the north-east room, the library or great chamber the most important room, with a 'porch' chimney piece, plaster frieze and stained glass being original work; on second floor the long gallery, although now modified.
The Phelips family was in the area before 1466; Edward Phelips, original builder, was a rich lawyer; the family occupied the house until the end of C19; 1915 leased to Lord Curzon; 1931 the property purchased by the SPAB and presented to the National Trust.
(Girouard M and others, Montacute House, National Trust, 1985, with short bibliography; Country Life, 16 April 1898, 4 June 1904, 12 and 19 June 1915, 20 April 1929, 20 and 27 October and 3 November 1955 etc).
Listing NGR: ST4994117167