MDE1032 - Lee Abbey (Building)
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Type and Period (3)
SS 697 492 Lee Abbey on Site of (NAT) Manor House (NR).  The old grange farm at Ley (now Lee) in the manor of Lynton, formerly in the possession of Ford Abbey was, in 1628, repaired and enlarged as the residence of the Lord of the manor, Hugh Wichenhalse. Ley was not the present building called Lee Abbey, which is no older than 1850, but merely a farm house with gabled ends and a gabled long porch in the centre with two long benches in the thickness of the walls inside, all roofed with thatch. The Ordnance Survey 1 inch of 1809 suggests that the former grange farm or manor house stood immediately to the north of the present building at SS 698 493. [2,3] SS 6979 4928 Lee Abbey, a modern group of buildings on the site of an older 17th Century manor house. 'Ley', recorded in the Domesday Book, was owned by Forde Abbey a Somerset Cistercian monastery in the 12th Century  but was never a monastic foundation . The Old Grange Farm of Lee, the seat of the Wichelhalse family from 1628 until early in the 18th Century  was, according to Presland , a large, rambling, plain building, with gabled ends and thick walls, thatched roof and tall chimneys. These old farm buildings, are depicted on the 1840 Tithe Map  and annotated Ley. The estate was purchased in 1841 by a Charles Bailey who rebuilt the manor about 1850 to make it look like an old abbey. On the death of his son in 1921 Lee Abbey became a hotel, later a boy's preparatory school and finally, in 1946, a conference and residential centre for the Lee Abbey Fellowship, a Christian Community . Snell  in 1906 says 'traces of the old structure were to be seen in an intermediate building' but the present occupiers have no knowledge of this. No survey action was carried out.  Lee Abbey was the seat of the Wichehalse family from 1628 until early 18th Century - the only period during which the Manor of Lynton had a resident squire. The present mansion was built mainly around 1850 with additions in 1921 and later, and little of the original construction appears to remain. The gatehouse, high buttressed wall etc are said to date from 1850. It has an interesting octagonal music room with windows and mantel possibly brought from elsewhere and represents good early Gothic Revival work.  Shown as 'Lee Abbey'.  Shown as 'hotel'.  There is evidence to suggest that the north façade of the central courtyard is that of the original house, possibly dating to the early 16th Century. By 1862 the new house, built by CF Bailey in 1850 comprised of 3 wings built around a courtyard. Tower Lodge and Duty Point tower were also built around this time. At some point in the mid 19th Century there was a tower abutting the Octagonal Lounge, no physical evidence remains. The building was a school for evacuated boys during the war. Since 1951 the Lee Abbey Christian Centre have made a series of extentions and renovations to the house.  The buildings were visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. The Abbey received a BAR score of 6 and the wall and gateway received a score of 5A.  Monument record reviewed as part of NRHE to HER pilot project.  In 1841, Charles Bailey, a London based land agent, purchased Ley, a large farm in the parish of Lynton. He intended to created a country estate and demolished the old farmhouse at Ley, supervising the construction of a fine country house on the site, which he gave the "somewhat pretentious" name Lee Abbey.  Further information on the Abbey and its surroundings is available in a report produced by Hazel Riley in 2017. 
- <1>XY SEM6703 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889. [Mapped feature: #41390 ]
- <2> SEM6795 Article in serial: Chanter, J.F.. 1906. The Parishes of Lynton and Countisbury. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. 114-224. P. 176-7.
- <3> SSO1423 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1809. 1 Inch Ordnance Surveyors draft map. 1:63,360.
- <4> SEM7684 Monograph: Bridle, H.. 2005. Woody Bay. Finial Publishing. P. 87.
- <5> SMO4764 Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1999. The Buildings of England: Devon. Penguin Books. 2nd Edition.
- <6> SDE89051 Monograph: Presland, J.. 1919. Lynton and Lynmouth. P. 78.
- <7> SEM7677 Map: 1840. Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment.
- <8> SDE89054 Monograph: Snell, F. J.. 1906. The Blackmore Country. P. 170.
- <9> SMO7324 Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 16 June 1993.
- <10> SMO5109 Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest .
- <11> SEM7608 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1963. 6 Inch Map: 1963.
- <12> SDE325710 Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1938. 2SE. Revision of 1903 with additions in 1938. Provisional Edition. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map.
- <13> SEM7414 Report: Wisnicka, A.. 2009. Lee Abbey: Historical Appraisal. Main House and the Site. Alina Wisnicka.
- <14> SEM8060 Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
- <15> SEM8323 Archive: Historic England. 2016. NRHE to HER prototype website test. 34639.
- <16> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34639, Extant 28 April 2021.
- <17> SEM6806 Monograph: Gray, T.. 1996. Devon documents. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 1st Edition. Travis, F.J. "An enclosure dispute at Lynton in 1854". 190-196.
- <18> SEM8504 Report: Riley, H. 2017. Assessment and Metric Survey of Archaeological Features at Lee Abbey, Exmoor National Park Project Report.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 6981 4928 (105m by 173m) MasterMap|
|Civil Parish||LYNTON AND LYNMOUTH, NORTH DEVON, DEVON|
Related Monuments/Buildings (7)
- Parent of: 19th Century designed landscape around Lee Abbey (Monument) (MEM24942)
- Parent of: 20th Century golf course at Lee Abbey (Monument) (MEM24943)
- Parent of: Duty Point Tower, north of Lee Abbey (Building) (MDE20953)
- Parent of: Lower Lodge, Lee Abbey (Building) (MDE20954)
- Parent of: Possible building remains north of Lee Cottage (Monument) (MMO1824)
- Parent of: Post-medieval gate piers at Church Close (Monument) (MEM24947)
- Parent of: Post-medieval sundial at Lee Abbey (Monument) (MDE20105)
Related Events/Activities (4)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=34639 (Original Monarch entry: 34639)
- 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5A): 858/1/1/64/2
- 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5A): 858/1/1/64/3
- 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 858/1/1/64/1
- Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64NE/5
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 29102
- Devon SMR: SS64NE/5/1
- Devon SMR: SS64NE/73
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20376
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21021
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 NE14
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34639
Record last edited
Mar 1 2022 11:49AM
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