Officers’ Terrace with attached office wing and basement area railings


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
South Yard, Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard, Plymouth


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Statutory Address:
South Yard, Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard, Plymouth

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

City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A pair of houses and attached offices forming the surviving part of the Officers' Terrace at Plymouth Dock, later Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard. Built 1692-1695 by Edward Dummer, Surveyor to the Naval Board and subsequently extended, mainly in the C19, and altered in the C20.

Reasons for Designation

The Officers' Terrace with attached office wing, of 1692-1695 by Edward Dummer, Surveyor to the Naval Board, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the two surviving houses and attached office wing are of considerable interest as an example of late-C17 English architecture, playing both a semi-public and a domestic role; * the buildings have good quality detailing and survive well; their scale and proportion speaks of their importance within the Dockyard, and are an evocative reminder of the prominence of the terrace prior to Second World War bombing;

Historic interest:

* the buildings have considerable historic interest and are thought to be the oldest surviving buildings within a Royal Naval Dockyard; * as one of the earliest examples in England of a terrace of houses being united behind a palace-fronted composition; * for their place within the nation's maritime history, and particularly the development of Plymouth Dock, later Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard.

Group value:

* the buildings have strong group value with other nearby listed buildings, particularly the Grade II listed steps and terrace walls in front of the terrace, which form part of the original composition.


The Royal Dockyard at Plymouth, known until 1823 as Plymouth Dock and subsequently as Devonport, was created in the 1690s. Its creation reflected the increasing strategic importance of the south west coast of England to the Royal Navy at that time. Several potential locations had been assessed before the site at Hamoaze was chosen, and the new dockyard was surveyed and laid out by Edward Dummer, Surveyor to the Navy Board. Construction largely took place between 1692 and 1695, and the choice of a completely new site enabled a comprehensive and ordered layout to be planned with the dock itself at the heart of the yard and the other buildings and facilities laid out around it.

It was customary by the end of the C17 to provide accommodation within the Royal Dockyards for various senior officers who worked at the yards. At the earlier yards in the south east of England this accommodation had developed on a largely piecemeal basis. The fresh site at Plymouth allowed for this accommodation to be grouped together, and Dummer planned and built a terrace of thirteen houses with office wings at each end. This was built on a prominent site high above the yard itself with the centre of the terrace aligned axially with the new dock itself. The terrace commanded views of the majority of the yard and provided an architectural focal point for the whole site; a 1698 engraving of the yard suggests that the style and detailing of the terrace was echoed by the other new buildings, particularly the great storehouse adjacent to the dock. The new terrace is also thought to be the first example in England of a terrace of houses being united behind a single, 'palace' facade. The surviving parts are also the oldest surviving building in a Royal Dockyard.

The Commissioner's house at the centre of the terrace was the grandest and was flanked by residences for the Master Shipwright, Master Attendant, Clerks and others. The central house was of five bays with a large segmental pediment over the whole and a tall roof surmounted by a cupola; the four flanking houses on each side were of four bays, and the outer pairs of houses, set forward, were also of four bays with the pairs united by the breaking-forward of their central bays under pediments. Early plans show the houses with small yards to the rear with outbuildings, and large gardens and stables beyond. The central houses had four rooms to the ground floor, the outer pairs were smaller with three.

The majority of the terrace was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, in a night raid on 22 April 1942. All that survived of the building was the pair of houses at the northern end and the attached office range, with parts of the gardens appearing to survive at the southern end and the high terraces in front also surviving.

The two surviving houses, now known collectively as Flotilla House, retain much of their original external appearance, although their original brick has been rendered and painted. They have been much altered internally. Early plans show the front doors opened into small lobbies with dog-leg stairs immediately adjacent. The stair and staircase in the left-hand house survive partially; its lowest flight appears to have been reconfigured, possibly re-using early fabric, and the upper flights appear to survive in their original locations with some replacement handrails and balusters. The stair in the right-hand house was replaced by an open-well stair towards the rear extent of the original building, probably in the C19. Beyond the lobbies there were originally a dining room and probably a parlour with a smaller chamber adjacent; these also have been reconfigured. There would have been a drawing room and bedrooms to the upper floors. Plans of the buildings from the early-C20 show that they had been in use as offices as well as dwellings. Plans for conversion from offices to residences in the 1930s appear to suggest that considerably more internal panelling survived throughout the houses and attached offices until that time; most of this has now been removed and the internal configuration of the buildings appears to survive much as amended at this time.

The main portion of the right-hand house has a substantial rear extension, probably added in the early-C19, and both houses have later wings extending to the rear connecting to outbuildings at the back which may retain some earlier fabric. The attached office wing, now known as Bonaventure House, has also been extended and altered, principally to the rear, apparently in the early-C19 and with the addition of the two-storey canted bay to the north, and is much altered internally.


A pair of houses and attached offices forming the surviving part of the Officers' Terrace at Plymouth Dock, later Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard. Built 1692-1695 by Edward Dummer, Surveyor to the Naval Board and subsequently extended, mainly in the C19, and altered in the C20.

MATERIALS: the buildings are built of brick, now rendered, with slate roofs.

PLAN: the surviving buildings comprise the two most northerly houses of the former terrace, facing west over the yard, with the attached office wing projecting westward from the northern end.

EXTERIOR: the surviving two houses are each of four bays. The central four bays of the pair break forward under a pediment with naval coat of arms, and the entrance doors are contained in the outer bays of this central section, in early-C19 Doric porches with half-glazed doors. The ends of the houses have quoins to the corners, and there is a deep modillion cornice across the whole. The windows are sashes with horns; six-over-six to the ground and first floors, each with projecting keystone above, and three-over-three to the second floor. There are projecting stringcourses between the floors. The roof of the left-hand house is at the original pitch while that of the right-hand house has been rebuilt at a lower pitch. There are two chimney stacks, one central and one at the left side.

The office wing projects forward from the terrace and is of two storeys, with four sash windows to the upper floor with a central segmental pediment above containing the royal coat of arms. There is a projecting porch which covers most of the ground floor; this appears to be largely of C20 construction but possibly re-using earlier fabric in the supporting piers. The end of this office wing has two sash windows to each floor.

The southern end elevation of the terrace, exposed following wartime bombing, is now slate-hung with projections showing chimney stacks and three modern casement windows. To the rear, this right-hand house has been extended, probably in the early-C19, and this extension seems originally to have been flat-roofed, with the pitched section constructed after the Second World War bombing. There are sash windows of varying sizes to each floor and a curved cornice above, and there is a modern metal stair which rises from the ground to the second floor. A part single-storey, part two-storey connecting block joins the rear of the house with a two-storey, pitched-roof block at the rear, all with sash windows. There is a small lean-to block in the rear corner of the yard.

The rear of the northern house has sash windows to the original rear wall with dormer windows in the roof above, and a two-storey, flat-roofed block connecting to a pitched-roof block of one and a half storeys at the rear, also with sash windows and external doors.

To the north, the office wing has a canted bay window with a central door at ground floor level and a projecting stringcourse between ground and first floor. This bay is flanked by tall chimneys and irregular fenestration. To the left there is a wall enclosing an internal yard with blind arcading and some windows, and a large flat-roofed dormer above. The end of the office wing extends to enclose the yard and has a single sash window.

INTERIOR: the two houses are now connected. The right-hand house layout appears to mostly be the result of a C19 reconfiguration. The entrance opens into a hall with a C19 stair with handrail supported on turned balusters and panelled lower section; to the right is the former dining room with a buffet recess under a panelled archway. Beyond this is a small room with a curved corner wall and an inner hall beyond lit by a lightwell. Rooms beyond in the link block were originally kitchen, scullery etc. There are surviving doors, doorframes and skirting throughout, with some modern replacements. The main stair rises in an open-well to the first and second floors which also retain some doors, surrounds and skirting. At the head of the stair to the attic, a section of brick wall in English bond is exposed; this appears to be the original rear wall of the building, with the later extension beyond.

The interior of the left-hand house appears to be mostly the result of a 1930s configuration. The entrance hall has panelled walls with cornicing above; some of this may be original and re-used. The stair is mostly in its original configuration although the lowest flight has been re-orientated, and appears to retain some of its original handrails, newel posts etc. The panelling at the upper levels of the staircase may be original. Each floor retains some doors and door surrounds, skirting and some cornicing. The original roof structure is partially exposed at attic level.

The interior of the office building appears to have been reconfigured a number of times and now has an irregular layout. Historic plans suggest that there were originally four rooms to each floor, divided by chimney stacks, with a winder stair in one of the rooms. The present stair appears to be of C20 date. There are panelled doors throughout and some boarded doors in a rear service room; the main rooms at the front of the ground floor have fireplaces with modern surrounds and cast iron backs which may be historic. There is a small section of panelling in an upper floor corridor.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: there are basement area railings to the front of the terrace with diagonal cross bars, these may be contemporary with the added porches. A further set of area railings with decorative urn finials survives to the north of the office wing.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Coad, J , Historic Architecture of the Royal Navy, (1983), 95-96
Coad, J G, The Royal Dockyards 1690-1850: Architecture and Engineering Works of the Sailing Navy, (1989), 49-53
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 651
Naval Dockyards Society, '20th Century Naval Dockyards: Devonport and Portsmouth Characterisation Report', 2015
Plans held at the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre
Wessex Archaeology, 'The Royal Dockyard at Devonport: Archaeological Assessment', 1999


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’), the garage building and section of wall adjacent to the south end of the buildings are not to be treated as part of the listing building.

End of official listing

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