MDE21319 - Birch Cottage and The Shippon at Town Farm, Martinhoe (Building)


The shippon part of a former longhouse, possibly dating from the 16th or 17th Century but with a 20th Century roof structure. It adjoins Birch Cottage, which has been rebuilt.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Shippon end of former longhouse. Possibly C16 or C17, roof structure C20. Rubble, corrugated iron roof. A one cell space, formerly floored, adjoining a rebuilt farm- house now known as Birch Cottage (n/L). The rubble structure is gabled, with low- pitched roof; gable towards Town Farm has one gable vent, off-centre, and two below, also 4 pigeon openings with slate landing slabs. At mid-height a projecting weathering course, probably over former lean-to. Bottom right a door opening. Towards south a small 2-light casement opening high right; to north a series of vents at low level, covered by later lean-to (not of special interest) and a square light high left. Interior: 4 A-frame C20 trusses; 3 rough 'beams' at east end, remains of former floor structure, and housings for 2 further similar. North wall has 5 deep splays to vents west wall with deep splays similar, but that in gable opens to square inner end. The East wall has a large stack, part in the adjoining Birch Cottage, from which it emerges as a large square-stone shaft. Also 2 large half-cylindrical projections at ground level, probably bread ovens; between these a rough-filled opening, probably former door from farmhouse. If this was part of a longhouse, there seems not to have been a cross-passage entry adjoining, unless the stack and ovens are inserted; the ovens do not appear to be bonded to outside walls. The floor has a raised section, stone finished and with a stone curb, with a lateral passage at lower level opposite the gable end door. Located in Exmoor National Park. [1] The building was visited in December 2013 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 5. [2] Birch Cottage and The Shippon were subject to building survey in 2018. Birch Cottage is a low, two storey house, of irregular two cell layout, appearing to have been remodelled in several significant phases in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. The building may have originated in the medieval period as a single storey or one and a half storey property of two or three bays length, with a steeply pitched roofline likely open to the roof. A chimney stack with contemporary cloam oven was added in the later medieval period (likely later 1500s) and suggests a domestic function, either a hall or a detached kitchen block supporting a hall. Part of The Shippon appears to be of the same phase as the stack and is thought to be domestic adjacent, or possibly a grand agricultural building, due to the relatively thin walls. The report suggests it may represent the remains of the lower store/undercroft element of a lost church house. The house was substantially repaired in the 1950s after a fire, including its timber roof structure, and all of the historic fitments and fittings were lost in the conflagration, with only the stacks surviving. The building is suggested to have been of two clear phases; an irregular, single cell, central block, of medieval date and tall single storey height, constructed in stone and cob. A second single cell two storey stone built block is of 17th Century date. There are a number of single storey lean to outshuts to the north, south and west, creating irregular elevations. The shippon has semicoursed rubble stone walls. The eastern gable has dove holes, weathering course and slit vents. Its interior is a large, 'single cell' space, open to the roof and with a stone slab and cobbled floor, with a drain and evidence to show the positions of partitions or stalls and former troughs. The remains of a first floor to the west end are carried on three transverse beams, of large scale but crude, rustic character, and may be a secondary feature. Within this loft space, at the west end, the walls are partially plastered and within the ruined east wall of the cottage is a blocked doorway, with beaded timber lintel, suggesting that an additional bedroom space was created within the 'shippon' in its first floor loft. [3] The buildings are shown on 2020 MasterMap data. The eastern end is labelled Birch Cottage. [4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: Martinhoe (16 January 1989) amendment letter.
  • <2> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <3> Report: Wapshott, E. and Boyd, N.. 2018. The Shippon and Birch Cottage, Martinhoe, Exmoor, Devon: Historic building recording.
  • <4>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #45077 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 6675 4869 (26m by 20m)
Map sheet SS64NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5): 1544/3/156
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 41672
  • Devon SMR: SS64NE/120/1

Record last edited

Jan 4 2021 3:53PM


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