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The History of Cadhay in Devon
by Michael Ford
An Historic Tudor Manor House in Devon

Cadhay, Devon

The Tudor manor house we see today is essentially as it was when built just before 1550 but with Elizabethan and Jacobean additions.

The house stands on the site of an earlier one, of which little is known, at Ottery St. Mary and takes its name from the de Cadehaye family. The property was first mentioned in the reign of Edward I.

Through various marriages Cadhay passed to John Haydon and it remained with his family for 200 years. John was a lawyer of Lincoln’s Inn and legal adviser to the City of Exeter. When the Collegiate of St. Mary at Ottery St. Mary was suppressed in 1545, John Haydon was made one of four Governors of it when it was given to the people of the town. The college buildings surrounding the church were deserted and left in ruins and it appears that John Haydon used some of the stones from these buildings to build a new house at Cadhay.

The house he built incorporated the great hall of the original house and formed a ‘U’ shape having a north front and east and west wings.

John and his wife Joan had no children so when John died in 1587 his great-nephew Robert Haydon inherited Cadhay. John Haydon’s tomb can be seen in Ottery St Mary church.

Robert married Joan Poulett, the eldest daughter of Sir Amias Poulett of Hinton St George in Somerset. It was Robert who enclosed the courtyard by building the south wing with its short long gallery made for his wife in the late 16th century. Over the four doorways in the courtyard are statues of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth dated 1617 and all dressed alike.

When William Peere Williams bought the house in 1737 he decided to update it internally so he had a ceiling inserted in the Great Hall to hide the roof beams and it became a dining-room in the Georgian style.

The tour of the house is very interesting and besides the dining room covers the library, drawing room and living-hall on the ground floor and the long-gallery, one bedroom and the raised roof-chamber upstairs. The latter shows the roof timbers of that original great hall but somewhat altered.

William died in 1766 but his widow continued to live at Cadhay until her death in 1792. Since then Admiral Graves purchased the property and took up residence followed by the Bagwells and Hares between 1802 and 1910. The Hares did not live at Cadhay but had it divided into a farmhouse and a gentleman’s residence. In 1910 a William Dampier Whetham bought the house, restored it and lived there until 1924 when a Major William-Powlett took on the tenancy purchasing it outright in 1935. What had persuaded the Major to live at Cadhay was that when he first saw it he noticed his own coat of arms on the chimneypiece in the dining-room and so the Pouletts returned to one of their ancestral homes purely by chance.

The gardens are a delight and still have medieval fishponds.

Cadhay is a member of the Historic Houses Association and can be visited during July and August on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and Spring and Summer Bank Holidays from 2pm to 6pm.

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