Farmhouse, former longhouse, probably of the early C16, remodelled and extended in C17, with C18/C19 alterations and minor additions.
Reasons for Designation
Gotham Farmhouse, a former longhouse probably of the early C16 which was remodelled and extended in mid-/late C16 and early C17, with C18 and C19 alterations, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as a well-preserved building which retains clear indications of its historic development and demonstrates the vernacular traditions of the area in much of its built form;
* Degree of survival: for its early date and high level of intactness;
* Interior: for notable features such as some surviving smoke-blackened timbers, a volcanic stone fireplace and early joinery. The sgraffito decoration is a rare survival of a once common decorative technique;
* Historical development: it retains a significant proportion of historic fabric, with later additions and alterations illustrating the principal phases of development.
A Calendar of Deeds, dated 1573, records the sale of Gotham, its lands and tenements. The farmhouse was originally a late-medieval longhouse, open to the roof and divided by partitions. It had a modified version of the basic longhouse plan since the through passage was situated at the upper end of the building, beyond the hall, rather the more usual arrangement of it being sited between the hall and the lower end where the shippon was located. A two-storey parlour extension of one bay was subsequently added to the north end of the building, in the mid-/late C16; its upper floor accessed via a separate stair turret (removed by the late C18 or early C19), as evinced by blocked doorways. In the early C17 a narrow two-storey unheated wing was added to the rear and the whole building except for the parlour extension was reroofed, though some of the original smoke-blackened timbers were either retained or reused in the roof above the shippon. It is likely that the hall was floored over at the same time. During the C18 the house and its land were owned by George Davey, who was responsible for rebuilding Gotham House (Grade II*) in Fore Street, Tiverton following a fire in the town in 1731. The shippon itself was converted to a kitchen in the C18/C19 when a new stack was added to the south gable end. A further small, lean-to extension was added to the rear in the C18/C19 and a lean-to shed replaced a stable block to the south end in the C20.
Farmhouse, former longhouse, probably early C16, remodelled and extended in mid-/late C16 and early C17, with C18 and C19 alterations.
MATERIALS: it has rendered cob walls; under a mostly water reed thatched roof which is humped in the centre and half-hipped at its south end. There are end stacks and a rear lateral stack.
PLAN: the house is rectangular on plan, facing west and built down a hillslope. It comprises a cross passage to the upslope (left) end, a former hall and a shippon (converted to a kitchen) to the lower (right) end. A two-storey parlour extension was added to the left (north), probably in the mid-/late C16 and a single-bay wing to the rear in the early C17. There are also several lean-to additions dating from the C18/C19 and C20 to the east and south sides.
EXTERIOR: the house is now of two storeys throughout (since the early C17). Its front (west) elevation is an irregular five-window range built on a slope down to the right. The windows are mostly C17 with two, three, four and five lights with chamfered timber mullions and various casements of timber or iron, most with glazing bars. The first-floor windows break the eaves. The central former hall has a five-light window, and the C16 parlour addition which is set back on the left also has a five-light window. There are two wide doorways, both low and with planked doors, and open porches whose thatched roofs are supported by wooden uprights. The front passage doorway, to the left of the hall window, is probably C19 with V-jointed boards, while the entrance to the former shippon is set within a wide, square-headed opening that has been reduced in size and replaced with a later C19 door and a small three-light window. The north gable end has an external stack. The rear (east) elevation has a small timber, two-light mullioned window to the parlour addition’s first-floor; this is a late-C20 copy of the original. The opening to the upper floor of the rear wing retains slots for an earlier four-light window, while the existing four-light window has early-C17 saddle bars and leaded glazing to two of its lights and C18 leaded panes to the third; the fourth is C20 iron. To the ground floor are two timber casements. The south wall of the wing has a small single light, probably C17, on the first floor. The rear doorway to the shippon (visible within the lean-to) has a late-medieval chamfered frame with mitre joints and a C19 plank door. The south elevation has a modern single-storey lean-to to the left-hand end and a three-light timber window to the first floor.
INTERIOR: the principal (left) entrance leads into the passage which has a late-C20 oak winder stair at its far end. This has replaced a straight-flight staircase previously opening from the former hall. To the left is the parlour which has a fireplace with timber lintel and sgraffito plasterwork (probably mid-C17) in a geometric design to the jambs. The ceiling beam has stepped stops, and the joists are exposed. The former hall is to the right of the passage and has a C17 axial ceiling beam and a C17 door with mouldings forming geometric shapes which leads to the rear wing. The fireplace has a chamfered lintel, volcanic ashlar jambs, and a fireback of volcanic ashlar, stone rubble and cob. In its right wall is an oven. Set into the back of the fireplace is an ogee-arched opening, also with a volcanic stone surround, which takes the form of a round-arched opening in the outer wall of the stack (now within the rear wing). It may have been associated with a former smoking chamber or brewing vat. The former shippon which has been taken into the house has a sloping floor, indicative of its former agricultural use, a C18/C19 brick fireplace with a brick-lined oven with a cast-iron door, and an axial ceiling beam wit stepped stops. A straight-flight staircase leads from this room to the first floor. Upstairs, there is a fireplace with C19 surround in the room above the parlour, and several C17 door frames opening from the landing. Some timber-framed partitions are visible to the lower end; one of which rises to a closed truss in the roof space. The early-C17 roof structure has lapped and dovetailed collared principal rafters and two rows of purlins (a few of the timbers are late-C20 reinforcements, and one truss has been replaced, Lewis, see sources). In the lower (south) end some smoke-blackened purlins, rafters and lathes have been re-used or retained.