The Early History of Some Farms in Drewsteignton


Sophia Lambert

These histories were compiled in about 2006 by Sophia Lambert, a descendant of the Gorwyns and Lamberts that were associated with the farms in the 18th and 19th centuries.



Hamlet of Crockernwell, Parish of Drewsteignton

Other spellings of the name include Brighebrok (1274); Boggebroc and Boggebrok (1258); Boghebrok (1311); Dodbrok (16th century); Doodbrooke; and Budbrooke (common until the 19th century). According to The place-Names of Devonshire, Budbrook is near a ford that was in medieval times called Bucgan Ford, and both it and the nearby brook derive their name from a Saxon named Bucge or Bucga. Bucga's Ford was mentioned in the description of the boundary in a charter dating from 739, under which King Aethelheard gave land north of Crockernwell to finance the building of a monastery in Crediton, so the name probably dates back to that time or earlier.

Budbrook is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, and it is not clear in which Domesday Manor it lay (probably one of the two Manors of Lambert). But William the Conqueror is recorded as granting to the ancestor of Richard de Droscomb the liberty to cultivate a certain area of land, consisting of what are now the farms of Tarhill, Redlake, Hobhouse, Gnatenhill (Nattonhole) and Budbrook, upon condition of finding and carrying a bow and 3 arrows behind the King whenever he came to hunt on Dartmoor. Richard de Drascombe is recorded as holding this land in 1212. By 1215, however, Budbrook was in the possession of John d'Availles, who had also taken on the duty to provide the bow and arrows. The d'Availles family were the ancestors of the Davy or Davie family of Crediton (the name d'Availles became Davyll and then Davy/Davie). In 1244 the estate was changed from a service holding to a military one; i.e. instead of providing a bow and arrows, the owner became obliged to supply men for the army (or a sum in lieu). The d'Availles unusually appear to have held the land directly of the King; i.e. it was not part of any manor or subject to a Lord of the Manor.

John Hooker's Chorographical Synopsis of Devon in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I again links Budbrook with Drascombe (3/6d was payable to the Crown out of "Droscom and Dodbrok"). Otherwise, however, the history of Budbrook between the 14th and 17th centuries is obscure, and it is not clear how long it remained in the Davy family. The last mention of a Davy in Budbrook is in a document of 1346 when "John Davaillea" owed feudal dues for the hamlet of "Boggebrok".

The Drewsteignton parish records show that by the 17th century the property had been divided into Higher and Lower Budbrook. The churchwardens' accounts show that between 1669 and 1674 Thomas Ponsford was paying the church rate for Higher Budbrooke; and in 1687-88 John Ponsford of Higher Budbrooke was a churchwarden in Drewsteignton. In 1708 William Seaward of Budbrooke (it is not clear whether Higher or Lower) was a churchwarden. But it seems likely that the Ponsfords and Seawards were renting the farm and were not the owners.

Higher Budbrooke

Higher Budbrooke seems to have been a small farm - in 1841 it was recoded in the tithe apportionment returns as having 53 acres - and its owners seem mainly either to have rented it out, or farmed the land alongside other farms in their possession and used the farmhouse to house their farmworkers.

By the 1740s, Higher Budbroole was in the ownership of Nathaniel Risdon. The Risdons were, like the Davys, a large and ancient Devon landowning family, and they may well have purchased it from the Davys. Their tenants in the 1740s were Richard and John Gorwyn of the Gorwyn family of Cheriton Bishop, who had acquired the neighbouring farm of Lambert and shortly afterwards added Lambert to their name (both men are on the list of churchwardens in Drewsteignton church). Nathaniel Risdon died without leaving any children, and his property, including Higher Budbrooke, passed to a cousin, the Rev. Richard Hole. After Richard Hole's death, his heirs sold Higher Budbrooke in 1800 to John Lambert Gorwyn, the son of John Gorwyn. John Lambert Gorwyn lived at Lambert, and he probably farmed the land at Budbrooke along with Lambert and used the house as a dwelling for his farm labourers. By 1820 his brother George Lambert Gorwyn is recorded as taking an apprentice for Higher Budbrooke, so John had probably let George have the use of it.

John Lambert Gorwyn was a bachelor, and when he died in 1823 he bequeathed Higher Budbrooke to his nephew John Lambert Arden Gorwyn. The latter does not seem to have taken much interest in the property (he moved to Somerset and was very much an absentee landlord). The records show that in the 1820s and 1830s the property was let first to Mary Hookway and then to John Drake. In 1840, John Lambert Arden Gorwyn sold Higher Budbrooke to another Lambert Gorwyn cousin, Richard Lambert Gorwyn, who seems to have lived there, but only briefly. However, he ran into debt, and had to sell the property. A flier advertising the sale in 1848 refers to the property as a good farmhouse with 50 acres. It is not clear who the purchaser was, but the house again seems to have been divided and either let to trades people or used to house farm labourers. In the 1851 census, it was occupied by a butcher and two agricultural labourers and their families. There were still two families of agricultural labourers living there in 1891 (Finch and Jordan); in 1901 Samuel Ponsford, agricultural labourer was living there with his wife and seven children; and in 1911 there were two farmworkers (James Saffin and George Cann) with their families.

The house appears to have been abandoned shortly thereafter and it then fell down. Although Crockernwell, true to its name, had at least eight wells, those at the Budbrooke end appear to have failed or become contaminated, and that maybe is why it was deserted. The nearby Lower Budbrooke survives.



Manor of Coombhall, parish of Drewsteignton

Also known in the past as Graystone or Lower Honiford. It is not clear what the name Greystone comes from. There is no obvious big granite boulder in the neighbourhood. It may be because the original farmhouse, which burnt down in 1871, was built partly of granite. All that remains now of the old house is the two old stone fireplaces, incorporated into the house that was built after the fire, a spacious high-ceilinged and big-windowed Victorian brick structure. There are also the remains of an old cider-press and of the old chamber for drying hams.

Greystone was part of the Manor of Coombhall, which entered into the possession of the Fulford family of Great Fulford in Dunsford sometime after 1630 (when the Manor was in the hands of the Hores of Spreyton and Chagford). Tenants of Greystone under the Fulfords included Brimblecombes (1660-1670); Robert Smale (who had the Greystone seat in Drewsteignton parish church in 1680); and Josias Stevens (1740s-1780s). The lease to Josias Stevens was granted by the then Francis Fulford for 99 years or until Stevens died, at an annual rent of 13s.6d. In addition, a "heriot" of Stevens' "best beast" or £3.6s.8d.was payable on his death.

- 1771: the Fulfords ran into major debt in the 18th century and had to mortgage several of their manors, including the manor of Coombhall. Continued money problems then forced the Fulfords to sell a number of the farms on their manors, and in 1771 they sold the (long) residue of a 1000-year lease of Greystone (i.e. effectively a freehold) to Mary Lambert Gorwyn, the young widow of John Lambert Gorwyn of Lambert on the Cheriton Bishop side of Crockernwell (the Lambert Gorwyns were an ancient yeoman family, dating back to the 1200s, who took their name from two farms in Cheriton Bishop). However, the Fulfords reserved shooting, fishing and fowling rights on the property, and Mary also had to pay an annual "chief rent" of 1s. The fact that the Fulfords were selling a 1000-year lease rather than the freehold probably means that at one stage the property had been put into some sort of trust, perhaps as part of a marriage settlement, which technically still held the freehold.

- 1789: Mary's youngest son George Lambert Gorwyn was married and Mary appears to have made over the property to George, as it is included in his marriage settlement. However, George never appears to have lived there; he inherited a number of farms in Spreyton from an uncle and moved there in the early 1800s. - 1798: the Ponsford family appear to have been renting Greystone, as William Ponsford junior took an apprentice for the farm in that year. George Lambert Gorwyn is recorded as taking an apprentice for Greystone in 1816 and in 1829, so it looks as though he took Greystone in hand after William Ponsford left, no doubt putting farm labourers in the house.

- 1837: George Lambert Gorwyn died, bequeathing Greystone and Honeyford and a number of other farms in Drewsteignton and Cheriton Bishop to his grandson Richard Lambert Gorwyn. Although George Lambert Gorwyn had been the owner of a large number of farms and a rich man, he was always a hands-on farmer and manager of his estate. His grandson Richard, however, had ambitions to live as a monied gentleman on his rents. He rented out all the properties that he had inherited from his grandfather and went to live in a large house in Exeter, indulging in such extravagances as running a pack of hounds. Greystone and Honeyford (which together came to 110 acres in 1842) were let to his remote cousin George Gorwyn, who also farmed Medlake in Hittisleigh. George Gorwyn lived with his family at Greystone during the 1840s, but then moved to Medland Manor.

- 1851: by the time of the 1851 census, Greystone and Honeyford had been let to William Seward, a member of another prominent yeoman family. In the 1851 census Seward is described as a farmer of 120 acres, but by 1861 he had obviously taken on another farm, as his acreage had gone up to 220.

- 1861. Richard Lambert Gorwyn dies. His extravagances meant that there was very little money left for his six children. His three sons tried to make a go of farming at Greystone, but obviously failed as Greystone and the other properties that they had inherited were put on sale. The bill of sale (which is in the Devon Record Office) notes that the Fulfords still had the sporting rights of Greystone. Greystone and Honeyford appear to have been purchased by Richard Strong, of another ancient local yeoman family. The precise date of the sale is unclear. The 1871 census records the three Lambert-Gorwyns as still living at Greystone, and the bill of sale in the Devon Record Office appears to date from 1872. But the old house is said by the Strong family to have burnt down just after they acquired the property, and the date of the fire is clearly recorded as 13 May 1871 in the diary of the Revd. Richard Chichester's diary (the entry reads: "Called away to fire at Greystone. It broke out before 8 and the roof was burnt by 9. Did all I could to save things and help. Two fire engines came. Back to dinner.").

Richard Strong owned and lived at the neighbouring farm of Narracott. After the purchase and the building of a new house, a light and airy Victorian mansion, he moved into Greystone, leaving Narracott to his son William Tuckett Strong. But by the time of the 1891 census, William Tuckett Strong had moved to Greystone, perhaps on the death of his father. He and his wife Susan were still there at the time of the 1911 census.



Hundred of Wonford, Parish of Drewsteignton, Manor of Coombhall

It seems likely that the ownership of Honeyford (more usually known until the 19th century as 'Honeydown') went with the ownership of the Manor of Coombhall, of which it was a part, until the farm was sold in 1800 by the Fulfords, the then owners of the Manor, to George Lambert Gorwyn of Spreyton, who already owned the neighbouring farm of Greystone.

The Manor of Coombhall, also previously known as Clifort (in the Domesday Book), West Clifford or Clifford Steven, belonged in 1066 to an Anglo-Saxon Lord called Brismer. After the Norman conquest it passed according to the Domesday Book to Stephen, presumably a Norman to whom William the Conqueror gave it part of the spoils of his victory over the Angle-Saxons. It then passed through various owners and finally ended up with the Fulfords of Great Fulford in Dunsford. It is not quite clear when it came into their posession, but by by the early 18th century they definitely owned both the Manor of Coombhall and Honeyford, and may have done so for some time.

In the early days of the Manor, that part of Devon was covered in scattered forest. Much of this was cleared in the 13th century, and it is probably then that the farm of Honeyford or Honeydown was created out of cleared forest land. Its name indicates that it was a hillside on which bees where honey was to be found ('down' probably comes from the old English 'dun' or hill). The neighbouring farm of Greystone used to be known as Lower Honeydown or Honiford.

It is likely that it was always a small tenanted farm owned by the Lord of the Manor. Because it was so small, after Tudor times it was probably let mainly to people who were already in possession of land in the neighbourhood and wanted to increase their holdings. So the fact that they were leasing it does not necessarily mean that they lived there themselves. The records show the following.

- According to Drewsteignton parish records, in 1669/70 Widow Tremlett was paying the church rate for Honeyford. She was probably renting Honeyford from the Fulfords or then owners of the Manor of Coombhall (as it was usually the occupant rather than the owner who paid the church rate).

- By 1673/4 Digory Ponsford was paying church rate for Honeyford, so presumably Widow Tremlett had died and the Ponsfords, who were big landowners in Drewsteignton, had taken over the lease of Honeyford. In 1730, Thomas Ponsford was in possession of Honeyford, so the property stayed in Ponsford hands for some time.

- The leasehold then passed to the Gorwyn family, who were a large and ancient family of yeoman farmers based chiefly in Cheriton Bishop but also with property in Drewsteignton. In 1733, the Drewsteignton parish records note the death of Elizabeth Gorwyn of Honeyford, so she at any rate seems to have lived there, probably as a widow.

- After the death of Elizabeth the leasehold appears to have passed to Richard Gorwyn, possibly her son or nephew. A list of churchwardens in Drewsteignton church includes Richard Gorwyn of Honeyford as the churchwarden in 1721 and a Fulford Rent Book of 1737-42 gives him as the tenant, paying a yearly rent of 13s.4d plus 1 capon at Christmas to the Fulfords.

- The leasehold then seems to have passed to Richard's son John Lambert Gorwyn (or 'Lambert alias Gorwyn' - John and Mary appear to have added Lambert to their name because they had taken over the farm of Lambert in Crockernwell). There is for instance a reference in an old deed to John Fulford granting a 99-year lease in 1762 to John Lambert alias Gorwyn, yeoman of Cheriton Bishop, determinable on the deaths of his son Richard Lambert Gorwyn and his wife Mary Lambert (it was traditional for leaseholds to be for 99 years 'determinable' on the deaths of up to three named people - ie the lease came to an end when all three had died if that was sooner than 99 years. The landlord had a right to claim the occupant's best beast as a 'heriot' whenever one of the named people died, although by the 18th century most landlords took a cash equivalent rather than an actual farm animal). John Lambert Gorwyn made a £15 upfront lump sum payment to the Fulfords for the lease and paid the same yearly rent as his father, being required to pay a heriot of his 'best beast' or £3 on the deaths of Richard and of Mary. As John was described as being 'of Cheriton Bishop', he did not live at Honeyford himself (he probably lived at Lambert on the other side of Crockernwell).

- John died in 1765 and the leasehold appears to have been inherited by his wife Mary Lambert, as a document notes the property as being held by her in 1771.

- In 1771, the Fulfords granted a new lease to the son of John and Mary, Richard Lambert Gorwyn, who was described in the lease as a gentleman of Cheriton Bishop, so again he probably did not live there himself. He does subsequently appear to have moved to Drewsteignton (although possibly to Higher Budbrooke or Greystone, also then in the possession of the Lambert Gorwyn family), as he is shown on the list of Drewsteignton churchwardens in 1775. The lease was again for 99 years unless either he or his brother William died before then. Richard paid a lump sum of 40s.for the lease and again an annual rent of £13.4s plus one fat capon to be given to the Fulfords at Christmas.

- 1774: a survey of the farm was done , and its area was calculated as 40 acres with a yearly value of £30.

- Richard Lambert Gorwyn died in 1791 and the lease of Honeyford seems to have passed to his youngest brother George Lambert Gorwyn. George then purchased the freehold of the property outright from the Fulfords in 1800. George inherited property from various relations and became a very big landowner, owning a number of farms in Drewsteignton, Cheriton Bishop, Hittisleigh, Spreyton and Crediton. He lived at Falkedon in Spreyton. Despite living so far away, he appears to have farmed the land at Honeyford himself, at least until the early 1820s, as he is recorded as taking an apprentice for Honeyford in 1821.

- George Lambert Gorwyn died in 1837 and left Honeyford, along with Greystone and a number of other farms, to his grandson Richard. Richard Lambert Gorwyn was not an active farmer and seems to have let the farms he owned. He let both Honeyford and Greystone (which together came to 110 acres in 1841) to his remote cousin George Gorwyn, as at the time of the 1841 census George Gorwyn was recorded as living at Greystone and farming both farms as well as Medlake in Hittisleigh. Honeyford was occupied in 1841 by James Finch, a 35-year-old agricultural labourer (presumably working for George Gorwyn) and his wife and daughter, and also by William Finch, living separately.

- George Gorwyn did not live long at Greystone, as by 1850 he had moved to Medland Manor in Cheriton Bishop. Greystone was then let to a farmer called William Seward, and Honeyford was probably let to him too, as the farms seem by that time to have been treated very much as a block.

- By the time of the 1851 census, no fewer than three families appear to have been crammed into Honeyford: John Blanchford (agricultural labourer) with his wife and baby son; Joseph Pyke, described as a pauper and former agricultural labourer, with his wife (a woollen weaver); and John Cookram (agricultural labourer) with his wife and four children.

- The owner, Richard Lambert Gorwyn, died in the 1860s heavily in debt. His sons seem to have tried to make a go of farming Greystone as they were there in 1871, and they were probably farming Honeyford as well, as they were described in the census as farmers of 120 acres. But they failed and sold the farm a few years later, possibly to the Strong family.

- By the time of the 1881 census it was described as "Honeyford Cottage" and seems to have been divided into two. It was in any case occupied by two households, a farm labourer (George Tancock) and his family and an 80-year old widow called Mary Pike. It continued to be occupied by farmworkers, probably working for the Strong family at Greystone, at least until 1911.

The Honeyford farmhouse was given a Grade II* listing in 1988 as historic farmhouse of special interest. English Heritage describe it as:

Small farmhouse. Probably C16 with C17 improvements. Plastered cob on stone rubble footings with extensive stone rubble patching; stone rubble stacks one with its original granite ashlar chimneyshaft; thatch roof. Plan and development: low 3-room-and-through-passage plan house facing south and built down a steep slope. Unheated inner room uphill at the right (eastern) end. Hall has an axial stack backing onto the passage. At the downhill end the service end kitchen has a front lateral stack on a gable which suggests that there might once have been a crosswing.

Since no internal inspection was available at the time of this survey it is not possible to outline the early development of the house here. Nevertheless it seems likely that it began as some kind of open hall house, possibly heated by an open hearth fire. Secondary outshot to service end. Now 2 storeys. Exterior: the service end is blind. The hall and inner room have an irregular 2- window front of C20 casements with glazing bars. The only first floor window, to the hall chamber, rises into the thatch. The passage front doorway is left of centre and contains a C19 plank door. The eaves are carried down over the porch which is supported on granite posts. Roof is gable-ended to right and hipped to left. Interior: was not available for inspection at the time of this survey but it is apparently little modernised in the C20. It probably contains much C16 or C17 work and a proper inspection should be carried out before any major modernisation work or alterations.



Manor of Coombhall, Parish of Drewsteignton

Also spelt Norracott. Narracott is a common farm name in Devon, and is almost certainly a corruption of "Northcote" (cote or cot meaning a cottage). The current house seems to be based on what was originally a cob-and thatch Devon longhouse, probably dating back to the 1500s or possibly even earlier. It must have been a sizeable establishment (probably with cottages) as in 1668 it had six chimneys, one of which was demolished by the then occupant, Thomas Hall, to avoid paying hearth tax. In the 1841 tithe apportionment returns, the farm is recorded as having 139 acres, quite sizeable for the area.

The manor of Coombhall, of which Narracott was a part, passed through the hands of a number of families before coming to rest with the Fulfords of Great Fulford probably in the mid or late1600s. The latter used the manor as security for mortgages at various times and Narracott is mentioned in some of these documents. In 1813, when the 1799 marriage settlement of Baldwin and Anna Maria Fulford was rejigged, her jointure was partially secured on Norracott, described as being a farm of 128 acres, late in the possession of Edward Moon.

Thomas Hall was the Overseer of the Poor for Narracott at various times during the 1660s and 1670s. He was the most prominent member of the parish of Drewsteignton at the time and was described as "gentleman". He was also the Overseer for West Ford in 1697. However, overseer duties were sometimes carried out by substitutes, and given the number of times that he was Overseer for Narracott it seems likely that it was his residence. Thomas Hall may not have owned Narracott, as there is a deed from the mid-1600s that records that that Ann Davy of Medland in her will granted a 99-year lease of "Norracott" to Elizabeth Frampton née Fulford. Gyles Frampton (presumably her husband) and Elizabeth later transferred the residue of the term of the lease to Francis Fulford for £590 and "other good considerations", and by 1742 the property was definitely in the ownership of the Fulfords.

The Fulfords rented Narracott out on a series of 99-year leases. Tenants included:

- Robert Tapson, who is recorded as the tenant in a 1742 schedule to a Fulford mortgage agreement. Robert Tapson (or more probably his father of the same name) had married Thomas Hall's widow Eleanor, and no doubt took over Narracott when he did so. She founded a bread charity for "poor persons of the parish"; there is a plaque in Drewsteignton church about the charity and the distribution of bread went on to about 1920.

- John Smale, who is recorded in the Drewsteignton parish records as taking an apprentice for Narracott in 1752;

- William Tuckett, who is recorded as taking an apprentice for Narracott in 1771.

- Thomas Moon alias Mohun, yeoman, to whom the Fulfords gave a 99-year lease in 1765 for an upfront payment of £100 and an annual rent of £1.11s. plus a herriot of the tenant's best beast or £4. By 1791, Mrs Moon (presumably Thomas's widow) was the tenant; and she was succeeded by Edward Moon, presumably their son, who held the property until about 1810. The farm was then about 145 acres (although that may have included Flouds and Snell). The Moons sublet Narracott at least part of the time, as in 1771 William Tuckett is recorded as taking an apprentice for Narracott, and by 1777, William Lambert Gorwyn of Wallon seems to have taken the farm in hand. By 1790, the sub-lease of Narracott had passed to William Lambert Gorwyn's youngest brother George Lambert Gorwyn (1763-1937), who appears to have lived at Narracott until about 1804, when he inherited a lot of property in Spreyton and moved there.

- John Pulman took the property over in 1810, together with Flouds and Snells, on a 14-year lease from the Fulfords at £150 a year.

On 28 April 1814, Baldwin Fulford agreed with William Strong (who appears to have been a very substantial local farmer) to swap Narracott for some properties that William Strong owned in Tedburn St Mary, thus beginning the Strong family's long association with the property. The deed effecting the exchange says that Baldwin Fulford "stands possessed of a 1000-year term or is otherwise seized in fee simple of Norracott".

John Pulman's 14-year lease presumably continued to its term under the Strongs, and the Strongs may have continued to let out the property for some time after that, as at the time of the 1841 census the resident householder was John Cole, farmer. By time of the 1840s tithe apportionment, however, the owner of Narracott (described as consisting of 139 acres) was listed as William Strong and the tenant Richard Strong, presumably William's son. Richard was 27 in 1851, when the census records him as living at Narracott with his wife Charlotte and 3-year-old son William Tuckett Strong. Also living on the premises in 1851 were one 14-year old house servant and six farm labourers, most very young (their ages are given as 28, 17, 15, 16, 11 and 10). Richard is described as farming 196 acres, so he presumably had another smaller landholding nearby. By 1861, his acreage had gone up to 310, so he had obviously acquired yet more land.

Richard moved to neighbouring Greystone sometime in the 1870s and was succeeded at Narracott by his son William Tuckett Strong. At the time of the 1881 census William was living there with his wife Susan and was described as a farmer of 300 acres. By the time of the 1891 census, however, William Tuckett Strong had also moved to Greystone (perhaps on the death of his father), leaving the house at Narracott temporarily unoccupied.

Narracott farmhouse was given a Grade II listing in 1988. It was described then as:

House divided into holiday cottages, former farmhouse. Mid C17 (possibly earlier core), mid C19 extension, renovated in 1982. Plastered cob on stone rubble footing; stone stacks, those in the older part with granite ashlar chimney shafts, brick to the mid C19 extension; slate roof (originally thatch to C17 section).

Plan and development: 1-shaped building. The original farmhouse is the lower block facing south-west and built down the hillslope. Originally this had a 3-room-and-through-passage plan with an inner room parlour uphill at the left (north-west) end with an end stack. The hall has an axial stack backing onto the former passage (the front door is now blocked). The service end room has an end stack which is now axial backing onto an unheated fourth room added to the lower end in the mid C19. Also in the mid C19 a new parlour wing was added at right angles in front of the former inner room parlour. This faces south-east and contains an entrance hall and a parlour with a projecting end stack. In 1982 the whole house was subdivided into 3 holiday cottages. 2 storeys throughout.

Exterior: the C19 parlour wing has a regular but not symmetrical 3-window front of large 16-pane sashes under low segmental arches. The original panelled door with narrow overlight is at the right end. The low pitch roof over this section is hipped both ends. The older block is lower. It has an irregular 3-window front of C19 and C20 casements with glazing bars. The passage front doorway is blocked. The roof is hipped to right. The rear elevation has a irregular 5-window front of C19 and C20 casements with glazing bars and has 2 C20 doors, the right one is the passage rear doorway.

Good mid C17 interior: despite the late medieval plan-form nothing shows to indicate an earlier date However most of the carpentry is covered with mid C17 plaster. Each of the 3 main rooms has a crossbeam clad with plaster which includes an ovolo-moulded cornice. The hall also includes a deep moulded frieze of leafy arabesque. Hall and service room fireplaces are blocked. The parlour fireplace however is exposed; it is granite ashlar with an ovolo-and-hollow-chamfer moulded oak lintel with scroll stops. The builders reported removing "sgraffito" plasterwork from the fireplace in 1982. Also an ornamental plasterwork overmantel, a heraldic motif, was removed in 1982 for conservation by RAM Museum, Exeter. The work has been done and it is now (1986) awaiting re-erection. The only exposed carpentry is the plain oak plank-and-muntin screen on the lower side of the passage. All 3 first floor chambers have ogee-moulded plaster cornices and the roof truss principals (apparently A-frame) are boxed in. The service end room chamber the cornice breaks forward around an encased roof truss and is enriched with moulded leaf scroll decoration.

Narracott Farmhouse appears to be a single phase farmhouse but may include earlier features. The survival of the mid C17 plasterwork throughout the house is most unusual. Nevertheless, because of its relativeness plainness, it is at some risk of being disregarded.



Manor of Coombhall (aka West Clifford); Parish of Drewsteignton.

Also spelt Wallen, Wolland and Wollond. According to Place-names of Devonshire, the name means 'the Walls' as in early times it is referred to as 'La Walle' (1249), 'Walle juxta Teynton Dru' (1310) and in 1332 'William atte Wallen' (or William who lived at the Walls, the -en ending being an old English plural) was paying 8d tax (which meant that he had wealth in the form of stock and crops of about 4s 5d). However, given the other ancient spelling of Walland or Wallond, it could also mean 'land occupied by Britons' (OE weala) - which would indicate that it was in Anglo-Saxon times one of the few farms still occupied by the Celts who lived in Devon before the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

Wallon had a reputation as a good farm. In the 17th century it belonged to the Colridge or Coleridge family, who were at that time fairly modest yeomen farmers and small traders mainly based in Dunsford, Drewsteignton and Doddiscombleigh, although they went on to greater things. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was of the same family, and John Dunn Coleridge (1820-1894) became MP for Exeter in 1865 and also made a glittering legal career, ending up as Lord Chief Justice and being created Baron Coleridge of Ottery St Mary. Story of a Devonshire House, a book by his son, the second Baron Coleridge, records that Humphrey Coleridge owned Wallon, described as a freehold estate in Drewsteignton, in 1624. The Protestation Returns for Drewsteignton (the list of all adult males belonging to the established Church that was prepared on Parliament's instructions in 1642) give the name of Humphrey Coleridge as one of the Overseers of the Poor, so he was presumably still there then. And the Drewsteignton parish records show Mrs Colridge paying church rate for Wallon in 1673-74.

Rather puzzlingly, however, the accounts of the Drewsteignton Overseers of the Poor show Samuel Gostwyck as the Overseer for Wallon in the 1660s and 1670s (There were two Overseers of the Poor each year and their duty was to administer the Poor Laws in the parish - provide for orphans, the indigent etc. The owners or tenants of the different estates and farms took it in turn to do duty as Overseer). In 1680, Samuel Gostwyck had the "Wallond" seat in Drewsteignton church; and in 1690 Elizabeth Gostwyck was the Overseer for "Walland". So it seems that Samuel Gostwyck either rented or acquired the estate from the Coleridges in the second half of the 17th century. According to a rent book in the Devon Heritage Centre, the Gostwycks were still paying a manorial rent to the Fulfords for a property in the Manor of Coombhall, presumably Wallon, in 1710, so they were there at least until then.

Sometime during the 18th century Wallon passed into the ownership of the Gorwyn family. The Gorwyns were an ancient family of successful yeoman farmers based in Cheriton Bishop (they derived their name from the farm of Gorwyn in Cheriton Bishop). Although they did not stray much beyond their own parish, some members of the family appear to have owned property and to have lived in Drewsteignton from the 16th century onwards. In the mid 18th century, John Gorwyn inherited the farm of Lambert in Crockernwell, and he adopted the name Lambert. His descendants called themselves either Lambert or Lambert Gorwyn.

- 1765: John Gorwyn died and in 1776 his widow, Mrs Mary Lambert, is listed in a manorial rent book as the owner of "Walland", paying a chief rent of 7s. a year to the Fulford family, who were Lords of the Manor of Coombhall of which Wallon was a part (although Wallon was to all intents and purposes a freehold property, its owners still owed a small annual rent to the Lord of the Manor).

- 1777. John and Mary Lambert Gorwyn had four sons. The second son William Lambert Gorwyn (1750-1797) got Wallon, probably moving there when he married in 1777. It remained in his family until the late 19th century.

- 1797: William Lambert Gorwyn died of drowning It is not known where, but possibly in the Teign, near which Wallon lies. He is buried in Cheriton Bishop with his parents, described as 'William Lambert of Walland'. He and his wife had four children and when he died Wallon went to his surviving son, another William, who usually called himself William Lambert (1780-1853). This second William lived all his life at Wallon, farming there and at other farms he owned nearby. When his childless uncle John Lambert Gorwyn died in 1823, William inherited Lambert and a lot of other property in Cheriton Bishop. He also owned or rented other property in Drewsteignton, Bow and Moretonhampstead. In the 1851 census he is described as a farmer of 350 acres with 13 employees. So he was a man of considerable substance. He and his wife Ann Campion had five children who survived infancy. By that time the family seems to have become more gentry than yeomen, and one son (William - the third William) moved to Exeter and became a successful solicitor and another son became a surgeon in London. By 1851, according to census records, the second William was a widower living at what he described as "Wallon Court" (a rather smart name for what had been a yeoman's farm) with his unmarried son the surgeon. There were also five servants living at Wallon.

- 1853: the second William Lambert died. He is buried in Drewsteignton and there is a gravestone to him. He left Wallon to his solicitor son, the third William Lambert (1810-1887) for life, and then to William's eldest son Charles, with the proviso that William could let it out, but not for more than 21 years (a copy of the will is in the Devon Record Office in Exeter). William was obviously resigned to the fact that his own son would never live there, but probably hoped that the next generation would. In the meantime the property was let to two successive generations of John Strongs, from another very old local yeoman family (whose descendants still live in Drewsteignton).

- 1887: the third William dies and his son Charles Lambert (1850-1923) came into his inheritance. His grandfather's hopes that Charles would return to farming were to be disappointed. Charles became a solicitor in Exeter like his father and put Wallon and the rest of the family estate up for auction only 3 years after William's death.

- 1890: Wallon is sold, after some 150 years in the Lambert Gorwyn family. The sale brochure is in the Devon Heritage Centre. It describes Wallon as 'in a most favourable part of the beautiful valley of the Teign....commanding some of the best fishing and shooting in the neighbourhood'. The house is described as 'a superior and most comfortable farm residence (over which climb japonica and roses)....timbered by stately trees', with seven bedrooms, store attic, front and back stairs and offices including a salting house with boy's room over; a large dairy with drying-room over; ample cupboards; and a paved area to the rear with pump, wash-house and closets. The adjacent farm buildings consisted of a woodshed; two pigs' houses; a cow-house for 5; an ash-house with loft over; a spacious slated barn; a chaff-room; a pound-house with chamber over; a machine house; a fattening shippen; a cart linhay; a cider cellar; and a calf and root house with loft over. There were also other buildings: a trap and cart house; a waggon house; 7-stall carthorse and nag stables; a fold-yard with shippen for 10 bullocks; a calves' house; a second barn and an open linhay. The acreage was 122½ acres of land of 'undulating character' ( the area is one of steep valleys), and the property was described as being let together with Weir Mill to John Strong at a 'reduced rent' of £145 a year. The brochure also includes a schedule of the fields.

The house at Wallon together with several of the outbuildings were given Grade II listings in 1988. The English Heritage descriptions are as follows.

Wallon House including garden walls to the south-west

House, former farmhouse. C16 with C17 improvements, refurbished and rearranged in late C18 - early C19, modernised circa 1900. Plastered cob on stone rubble footings, parts are stone rubble; stone rubble stacks topped with C19 and C20 brick; slate roof over thatch.

Plan and development: L-shaped building. The main block faces south-east and is built down the hillslope. It has a 4-room-and-through-passage plan. Uphill at the left (south-west) end is an unheated inner room, formerly a dairy. The hall has an axial stack backing onto the passage. The 2 service end rooms are separated by an axial stack. Late C19 or C20 rear block projecting at right angles to rear of left end. The main house has a long and complex structural history. It was originally built in the early or mid C16 as an open hall house probably heated by an open hearth fire. The inner room chamber was erected in the mid or late C16 and it jetties into the upper end of the hall. The hall fireplace and upper floor were inserted in the early C17. The whole house was raised and reroofed in the late C17 - early C18. The service end was rearranged in the late C18 - early C19 at which time the main entrance was moved to the right end room. Now 2 storeys throughout.

Exterior: irregular 5-window front of mostly late C19 and C20 glazing bars, most with glazing bars. The 3-light casement over the passage front doorway has an unusual folding casement. The window to right of the same doorway has been replaced by a C20 french window. The 12-pane sash above has fat glazing bars and may be C18. To right of it is a late C18 - early C19 16-pane sash. The passage front doorway is left of centre and contains a 4-panel door. The right end doorway contains a 6- panel door behind an early C20 porch with a first floor room over. Roof is hipped each end.

Interior: the inner room and hall contain the oldest features. The oak plank-and- muntin screen has chamfered muntins with step stops high enough to accommodate a bench below. The planks have been removed. The hall fireplace is granite ashlar with an oak lintel which is ogee-moulded with the same stops. One early roof truss remains boxed into the partition between hall and inner room chambers. The rest is made up of late C17-early C18. A-frame trusses with pegged lap-jointed collars. Most of the joinery detail is C19 and C20 but there are a couple of possibly C18 fielded panel doors. The front garden is enclosed by a C19 low stone rubble wall. The right-hand part dates from is circa 1900 and it includes machine brick piers and ornate cast iron work.

Stables 5 metres south of Wallon House

Stables. Probably C18. Plastered cob on stone rubble footings; some stone rubble patching; corrugated iron roof (formerly thatch). Plan and description: pair of stables facing west with an open-fronted cartshed (now woodstore) at the right end. The stables have 2 doorways, one each end, and 2 hayloft loading hatches more towards the middle. Shuttered window between the doors and a slit window alongside the left door. Roof is hipped each end. Interior: has plain carpentry detail including A-frame roof trusses with pegged lap-jointed collars. These stables forms part of a group of attractive listed farmbuildings in front of Wallon House.

Stables approximately 6 metres south-west of Wallon House

Stables. Late C17 or C18. Plastered cob on stone rubble footings; corrugated iron roof (formerly thatch). Plan and exterior description: stable block facing north-east. The front has a doorway at the right end and a wider carriageway at the left end (now reduced in width) with a hayloft loading hatch directly above. Between the two doorways is a probably C17 unglazed 3-light oak window with chamfered mullions. The roof is hipped to right and half-hipped to left. Interior: has plain carpentry detail including a roof of A-frame trusses with pegged lap-jointed collars. These stables form part of an attractive group of listed buildings which make up the farmyard in front of Wallon House.

Barn approximately 11 metres south of Wallon House

Barn. Late C16 - early C17, refurbished in late C17 - early C18. Cob on stone rubble footings; corrugated iron roof (formerly thatch). Plan and exterior description: tall threshing barn facing north-west. Tile original front doorway is right (south-west) of centre and is flanked by short projecting midstrey walls. It and the opposing rear doorway are now blocked. The present doorway has been knocked through the front left of centre between pair of secondary cob store rooms. Roof is hipped both ends. Interior: is open to the 6-bay roof. The left 2 trusses are original side-pegged jointed crucks with threaded purlins and an unusual double ridge. The other 3 trusses are late C17 - early C18 replacement A-frames with pegged lap-jointed collars. This is an unusually large barn for such an early date. It forms part of an attractive group of listed farm buildings in front of Wallon House.

Farmyard wall and gate posts approximately 11 metres south of Wallon House

Walls and gate posts. Late C18 - early C19. Granite ashlar. The south side of the farmyard contains a wall of coursed blocks of granite ashlar. It contains 2 gateways both flanked by monolithic square-section gate posts with ball finials. The larger gateway to the left (from the farmyard) is to the drive. The ashlar walls line the drive for a short distance. These walls and gate posts form part of a group with the attractive farmbuildings in front of Wallon House.