SS 62 NW
1/95 Higher Biddacott Farmhouse
Farmhouse. Probably early C16, remodelled late C16/early C17 with C20 alterations.
Stone rubble and cob, mostly unrendered apart from hall and wing section. Slate
roof with gable ends. Stone rubble stack at left end and tall rear lateral hall
stack with tapered caps and offsets.
Plan and Development: L-shaped plan, with lower end to left of through-passage,
hall and dairy to right, with a front wing projecting forwards of the dairy and
incorporating a store-shed with granary over at the gable end. Lofted outbuilding,
formerly a salting-house extends at right angles to rear of lower end.
Interesting plan development. The original core appears to have consisted of a 2-
room and through-passage plan, the hall and passage originally open to the roof, the
lower end possibly so but unheated, the closed truss to the lower side of the
through-passage being smoke-blackened on the hall side only. Before the hall proper
was ceiled, the passage itself was floored over, a stud partition over its upper
side also being smoke-blackened on the hall side only. The staircase running up
beside the front wall of the hall to the landing over the passage is C20, but in its
original position. Winder staircase immediately to left of through-passage. The
hall, to judge by the decorative plaster ceiling to the chamber over, was finally
floored in the late C16. At the right end, at right angles to the hall and
connected to it only by a narrow passage is a wing of single room plan with the
connecting passage at the rear containing a straight run staircase. This appears to
be of C16 date, apparently unheated; its unusual relationship to the main range
suggests it may have originally housed a separate unit. In the C18, the rear angle
between the main range beyond the hall and behind the wing was infilled with a
dairy, completing the overall L-shaped plan, and in the C18 or early C19 the wing
was extended forward by the addition of a store-shed with granary over.
2 storeys. 4-window range. C19 fenestration to upper storey, two 2-light casements
6 panes per light at left end, single light casement of 6 panes and 3-light 6 panes
per light to right. C17 square-headed ovolo moulded timber doorways to front and
rear of through passage, the front with softwood studded plank door in C17 style.
C20 fenestration to ground floor, 2-light windows to left, 3-light hall window to
right. External stone steps to granary doorway. Two 2-light timber windows at
front gable end of wings.
Interior. Ground floor largely altered in C20. Lower end has unstopped chamfered
cross ceiling beam. Linenfold panelling at upper end of hall and C17 staircase no
longer survive. Lower end and hall probably have concealed C16/C17 fireplaces
intact. Dairy fittings intact. Complete decorative geometrical single rib plaster
ceiling with frieze survives to chamber over hall, probably circa 1560-1570 with
central boss with radiating ribs dividing into 4 square panels, each panel
quartered, with angle sprays at the tips. Frieze of repeating scrolling fruit and
foliage. Ovolo moulded and scroll-stopped door surround to rear wall of chamber
leading to small closet, which has blocked 3-light timber mullion window.
Roof structure virtually complete over main range, with 3 cruck trusses, the feet
plastered over. Truss over centre of lower end is closed at first floor level to
apex of roof. Solid cob walls to each side of through-passage, reducing to stud
partitions at first floor level. Truss over the lower end side is smoke-blackened
on hall side only. Closed partition on upper side rises to apex of roof also smoke-
blackened on hall side only. The third truss is sited over centre of hall. All the
trusses have cranked morticed and tenoned collars, 2 tiers of threaded purlins and
diagonally threaded ridge purlins. All the roof timbers over the hall and through-
passage are' thoroughly smoke-blackened, those over the lower end are clean. The
clay daub to the closed partitions has also survived undisturbed. Single raised
cruck truss to wing with cranked collar, 2 tiers of threaded purlins and
strengthening piece to the apex. All the roof members are clean.
Despite the ground floor external alterations, Higher Biddacott is a late medieval
farmhouse of considerable interest, the roof structure and plaster ceiling are of
particular note, and the relationship of the main range to the upper end wing
suggests the possibility of a rare surviving example of a 2-unit house.
Listing NGR: SS6289125674