The Old Brewery House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Coal Orchard, Taunton, TA1 1JL


Ordnance survey map of The Old Brewery House
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Statutory Address:
Coal Orchard, Taunton, TA1 1JL

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

Taunton Deane (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A former brewer’s house, dating from about 1760; the attached theatre and arts centre are not included.

Reasons for Designation

The Old Brewery House, built about 1760 as a brewer’s house, from 1977 becoming ancillary space and offices for the attached Brewhouse Theatre and arts centre (not included in the listing), is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as a well-preserved mid-C18 house with neat detailing, such as the rubbed brick flat arches to the openings, which also retains good internal joinery of the late C18 and early C19.

Historic interest: * the Old Brewery House is the last surviving element of a former brewery complex which occupied the site for around 200 years.


The site on which the Old Brewery House stands was historically a field known as the Rack Hay, where cloth was stretched out to dry on the banks of the River Tone. Later, the area was used as a coal store, and as an orchard, giving rise to the present name of Coal Orchard. From at least the early C18, the area was a brewery. In 1760, it was described as having been in use for 30 years, and at this time, it consisted of three houses, a malt house, brew house, coal yard, stable and cellars. The Old Brewery House, the former brewer’s house, dates from around this period. In 1883-1885, the brewery buildings were rebuilt by John Sloman of the Stogumber Brewery, who renamed it West Somerset Brewery. The site changed hands again in the later C19 and was leased out until at least 1913, when the Old Brewery House was sold, and subsequently used as a social club by various electricity boards, until 1975. The Ordnance Survey map published in 1968 shows the remaining brewery buildings on the site, including a long range which stood alongside the northern end of the Old Brewery House and extended eastwards in two parallel ranges.

In 1975, the site was leased in order to build a new theatre. A campaign to raise support and funds for a new theatre and arts centre had been headed by John Wilkins and Cllr John Meikle; they received support from across the community and local business. The theatre was constructed in 1976-1977, alongside the Old Brewery House, which was retained and converted to use as ancillary functions, including a kitchen, bar, restaurant and meeting rooms and offices. Photographs from the period of construction show that the other buildings had been cleared from the site in advance of the redevelopment.

A further phase of redevelopment and expansion took place in 1996: a new studio theatre, gallery and arts spaces were added to fill the plot to the east of the existing buildings. The area between these new blocks, the Old Brewery House and the theatre building was roofed over to create a linking space to house a bar, and a small performance and exhibition space. The Old Brewery House became an exhibition space to the ground floor and offices above, in which use it remained in 2017.


A former brewer’s house, dating from about 1760; the attached theatre and arts centre are not included in the listing.

MATERIALS: red brick with rubbed brick dressings and plain clay tile roofs.

PLAN: the house is broadly rectangular on plan, with the north end slightly angled to create a less regular, double-pile footprint, with the entrance to the west.

EXTERIOR: the building is a double-pile house of two storeys and three bays, built in red brick laid in Flemish bond, with plain clay tile roofs, and brick gable-end stacks. The windows, in rubbed-brick, flat-arched openings, are later horned sashes. The principal (west) elevation has a central entrance with a semi-circular headed opening over fluted pilasters. The recessed doorway has panelled reveals and a semi-circular fanlight over a six-panelled door. To either side on the ground floor are shallow canted bay windows. The central first-floor window is six-over-six panes, flanked by tripartite windows of six-over-six panes with two-over-two panes to the margins. The south gable ends are rendered to a height of about 1m, and are blind apart from one small timber casement window at ground-floor level. The rear elevation is obscured at ground-floor level by later additions. The first floor has six-over-six sash windows to either side of a long stair window whose semi-circular head has spider-web glazing.

INTERIOR: the ground floor of the western range has been opened up into a single space, though wall stubs and beams indicate the former layout, of two rooms to either side of a central hall. The room has a short length of moulded cornice above the front door, and further, flat moulded cornice at the north end of the room. It retains its moulded skirtings and door surrounds, chair and picture rails and the bay windows have panelled reveals. The rooms to the rear have in part been subdivided, but retain some cornice and their door surrounds. The former kitchen has a very wide arched recess. The stair remains in its original position; it is has a small open well and an open string with applied brackets and slender stick balusters, turned newel posts and ramped handrails. The first-floor landing has a curving gallery. It retains a moulded cornice, much overpainted. A segmental-arched opening on moulded pilasters gives access to the western rooms. All the rooms retain their moulded and deeply-recessed doorcases and four- or six-panelled doors. Two rooms have classical fire surrounds with dentil friezes, one with a later-C19 fireplace with floral tile inserts.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Branson, N R, 'A New Concept in Theatre Design' in Royal Society of Arts Journal, , Vol. 104, (17 August 1956), 756-774
The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre: Theatre ID 1271 (The Theatres Trust), accessed 02.06.2017 from
Somerset Historic Environment Record 31694: St James Street Brewery Site, Taunton
Theatres Magazine (The Theatres Trust), Issue 45, Autumn 2015


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 22 Apr 2003
Reference: IOE01/10499/14
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John H. Sparkes. Source Historic England Archive
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