Four Exmoor farmsteads were designated as Conservation Areas in the early 1990s. This enabled funding to be sought under the then Conservation Area Partnership Scheme (CAPS) to carry out urgent, essential repairs in order to maintain their character. The farmsteads are mainly in remote upland locations which is unusual for such designation, but their characteristics are similar in that they consist of a farmhouse closely associated with a varied range of outbuildings. Each farm has several buildings that are now redundant as regards current agricultural practice and pose a considerable strain of upkeep. Three are remote from public access other than by footpath or bridleway. All but one has a grade II listed farmhouse and two also have grade II listed outbuildings.
Colton Farm in the parish of Nettlecombe is some 250 metres (800 feet) above sea level. It is approached along a narrow no-through road continuing as a footpath and is situated on the south-facing edge of a steep combe below the main Brendon Hill ridge. The farmhouse is in a raised position with two separate groups of outbuildings, that to the south being a significant listed group around a part paved and cobbled yard.
Each farmstead has a considerable history. It has not been possible to carry out detailed research within the terms of this appraisal, but there are some clues to the antiquity of most locations.
Colton is a site of considerable antiquity. An entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Place Names in Somerset mentions a 1249 reference to Couleton. This probably refers to “Cula’s tun which is Old English for “an enclosed piece of land.” The more recent history is that Colton farm was formerly part of the Nettlecombe Estate. There is a date plaque of 1806 under the eaves of a farm outbuilding with the initials “IT” which undoubtedly refers to the then ownership of a member of the noteworthy Trevelyan family.