The History of
Mansions in Somerset, Devon &
by Michael Ford
in the West Country
Holcombe Rogus north east of Tiverton in
best remaining Tudor House in Devon
early part of the 16th century Sir Roger
Bluett rebuilt the Medieval manor house
here in the style of the age making it
one of the grandest Tudor houses in
Devon. What we see today is the finest
house of that period to have survived in
view of the main south front can be had
from the gateway. The four storeyed Tudor
entrance porch with its higher side tower
and the two large six-light transomed
windows of the great hall can be seen. To
the right in front of the house is a fine
circular dovecote with a conical roof.
is built around a courtyard. The south
and east ranges are original while the
north and west wings were rebuilt around
1860. The Long Gallery runs the full
width of the south range above the Great
Hall, 65ft in all. Inside there is some
good plasterwork in the form of ceilings,
friezes and glorious overmantels and some
fine panelling and good fireplaces. To
one side of the gallery there are nine
very small rooms or cells. Legend has it
that they were used to imprison Spaniards
captured from the Armada in 1588. The
Judges room is said to have been
used by Judge Jeffries during his
notorious visit to the West Country.
gardens are landscaped and include a fine
Rogers son Richard carried out some
alterations after 1585 on inheriting the
property. He married Mary Chichester from
another well-known Devon family.
the cutting of the Grand Western Canal
was started on Bluett land just to the
north east of Holcombe Rogus towards
The Bluett family
moved from Holcombe Court when Peter
Bluett sold it to William Rayer in 1850.
William carried out a superb restoration
of the great hall. Ninety years later a
Reverend William Rayer sold the estate to
Mr Fleetwood-Hesketh, grandson of the
founder of the town of Fleetwood in
Lancashire in 1833.
family monuments can be found in All
Saints church next to the house. These
include an excellent example of the art
to Richard Bluett of Holcombe Court, who
died in 1614 and his wife Mary. The
Bluett family pew in the church is
Jacobean and is one of the best of the
period in the country.
Court is a private house and is not open
to the public. It can however be seen
from the road, which passes the gateway.
There is a
small house at Holcombe Rogus between
Holcombe Court and All Saints church
known as The Priests House.
It was built around 1500 and was
originally the church house.
rescued by The Landmark Trust who have
restored it and maintain it for holiday
of The Priests House for holiday
accommodation can be obtained from:
Landmark Trust, Shottesbrooke,
Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 3SW.
Greenham and Thorne St Margaret, west of
Wellington in Somerset)
Perfectly preserved Medieval Manor House
just a fantastic place for it gives the
feeling of stepping back in time. For
anyone visiting this area of the
Devon/Somerset border and who is
interested in Medieval times, this is a
must not to be missed as it
can be considered to be the best small
Medieval manor house remaining in
England. Unfortunately the house is not
open generally to the public but the
gardens are. This allows the visitor to
wander amongst the wonderful ancient
buildings, enter as well as pass through
the creeper-clad gatehouse and enjoy the
beautiful gardens beside the River Tone.
of the Manor comes from the Cothay family
who owned an earlier house on the site.
The Bluett family, believed to be from
Kittisford, married into the Cothay
family in the early 14th
century and it was the younger son,
Richard who inherited it. Richard married
Agnes, the daughter of John Verney of
Fairfield at Stogursey. Although the
Bluett family owned the manor from this
time it was not until 1457 that they
decided to live there.
In 1481 a
Walter Bluett became the owner of Cothay
and it is he who had the manor house and
its gatehouse built as it is seen today.
The property passed to William Every
during the reign of Elizabeth I and he
carried out a few alterations around
front of the house faces east and is
immediately behind the gatehouse with
only a forecourt garden in between. This
entrance front has two gabled ends with a
two storyed porch to one side of the
recessed centre. Both mullioned and
transomed windows and buttresses abound.
The garden front to the west shows a
considerable complication of
architectural change, most of which was
caused by 17th century additions, but it
is still a delight to behold. There is a
lovely circular window with pretty
tracery in the gable of the north wing.
Here also is a spiral stair turret.
Great Hall is open to its roof timbers
and has its screen and gallery still in
place. The Solar is also open to the
roof. The Parlour below, part of the
undercroft and the Dining Room both have
early 17th century panelling
from the Every family time. The latter
has an elaborate fireplace and
overmantel. The room above the Parlour
and the Library runs the full length of
this wing and it is here that the other
side of the rose window is found. In two
of the bedrooms in the south wing there
are some late 15th century
wall paintings which are among the oldest
still existing in English domestic
buildings. Other rooms of note are the
Gold Room and the Green Room. A 15th
century oratory is above the 14th
century porch. The entrance door still
retains its original features with a
substantial oak locking-bar, which slides
into slots in the walls either side, a
one foot long key for the lock, a
peep-hole and plug.
two-storeyed gatehouse with buttresses
and battlements displays the coat of arms
of Walter Bluett above the gate. There is
a chapel adjacent, which has been added
and this may be entered by the visitor.
The gatehouse was restored in 1926 by
Colonel R Cooper.
acres of gardens are a delight with a
long yew tree walk linking seven separate
garden rooms in different
styles. There is a further small garden
through the gatehouse in the forecourt.
In front of the gatehouse is a large pond
inhabited by wildfowl and there are
lovely riverside walks to the rear of the
gardens are open to the public from May
to September on Wednesdays and Thursdays
from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. The house is only
open to groups of 17 or more by
appointment throughout the year.
Greenham west of Wellington in Somerset)
Beautifully restored Medieval Manor House
ancient manor house came to the Bluett
family around 1300 when Sir Walter Bluett
married the daughter of the then owner
Simon de Grindeham. Later in the early 14th
century John Bluett the elder son of the
union of the Bluett family with the
Cothay family and owners of Cothay Manor,
inherited Greenham Barton with the
younger son Richard inheriting Cothay.
was originally built around three sides
of a courtyard with only an entrance
archway to it on the south side. This
archway still exists but the east wing
has been demolished. The main living
quarters are in the west range as is the
original two-storeyed porch dating from
about 1400. The Great Hall has two large
five-light transomed windows from the 16th
century. The courtyard side of this block
displays the Great Hall chimney with a
short spiral stair turret adjacent to it.
The north range houses a very large old
fireplace. The battlementing is from this
century as are the Jacobean style
believed that Lady Jane Grey stayed here
in 1548 while attempting to gain support
from her relatives for her claim to the
throne. Thomas Grey, 1st
Marquis of Dorset was overlord of these
manors and an ancestor of Lady Jane and
stepson of Edward IV.
Sir John Bluett owned the property. When
he died in 1634 a fine monument was
erected to him and his wife in the Bluett
Chapel of the church of All Saints at
Holcombe Rogus. The figures of their
eight daughters line the front of the
1st World War the house fell
into ruin. It was bought by a Mr Fry in
1920 and he set about its renovation. Mr
ER Willis continued the restoration from
1968. The house now appears to be in a
beautiful condition and looks superb.
garden besides the archway to the
original courtyard there is an old ash
house for storing the ashes from the fire
for later use as fertiliser.
house is a private residence and is not
open to the public. However a very
satisfying view of the main front can be
had from the gate to the front door from
Kittisford north west of Wellington in
ancient Manor House which is no more
believed that the original Bluett owners
of Cothay came from Kittisford Manor and
that some of the Bluett family continued
to live there for some time after that.
There is a
brass memorial to a Richard Bluett and
his wife, dated 1524, in the church of
St. Nicholas at Kittisford, which is just
above Greenham and Cothay.
Colan east of Newquay in Cornwall)
ancient Manor House which has disappeared
church of St. Colanus at Colan is a brass
memorial to the Bluett family showing
twenty-two children and it is believed to
be from about 1580.
in the church of All Saints at Holcombe
Rogus reads Robert Bluett Esqr
formerly of Little Colan in Cornwall,
afterwards of Holcombe Court and
goes on to remember six descendants back
Francis Bluett (brother of Sir
Roger Bluett of Holcombe Court) who
married Elizabeth the daughter of Tristam
Colan Esqr of Little Colan in Cornwall
and by her had thirteen sons and nine
daughters. This monument was erected in
1783 by Buckland Nutcombe Bluett the
surviving son of Robert Bluett.