MEM24426 - Exford Youth Hostel (Building)


A late 19th Century house name Exemead, which became a Youth Hostel in July 1964 and extended to 50 from Spring 1965. It was formally opened in May 1966 by Mrs Pauline Dower, Deputy Chairman of the National Parks Commission.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

The 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map shows the site as a clear plot by the River Exe. [1] The 2nd Edition map shows a large square building at SS 8528 3831 with some small additions (likely porches) on its northwestern, northeastern and southeastern elevations. There are three small outbuildings associated with the house, at SS 8530 3832 (9.5 metres by 3.3 metres), SS 8529 3830 (4.6 metres by 2.5 metres) and SS 8527 3831 (4 metres by 2.5 metres). [2] The building is still shown as roughly rectangular on the 1962 Ordnance Survey map. [3] By the time the 1975 Ordnance Survey map was surveyed, the building had been extended to the southeast and was labelled as a ""Youth Hostel"". The three outbuildings mentioned above had been demolished (and may have been previous to the 1962 map, although the scale of this map makes this difficult to determine). A range of stables are depicted to the southeast at SS 8532 3828, measuring c. 34 metres by 6 metres. [4] The building is still shown as a Youth Hostel on 2018 MasterMap data. The range of stables to the southeast have mostly been removed, with the northwesternmost part of the structure still apparently surviving at SS 8531 3829 and some new buildings constructed to the south of the site. [5,6] The Youth Hostel opened 18 July 1964 after a fortnight's delay, with 18 beds available. In Spring 1965 a newly constructed annexe was opened and 50 beds were available. It was officially opened on 7 May 1966 by Mrs Pauline Dower, Deputy Chairman of the National Parks Commission. 12 loose boxes and 6 acres of paddocks were used to provide pony riding facilities under the YHA's Adventure Holiday Scheme. The buildings were refurbished in 1991 and stables and land were placed on the market in 1999. Late in the decade the hostel received a refitted members' kitchen and a new reception. The hostel was marked for closure in 2014 but is still in operation [2018]. The house was purchased by Somerset County Council under the provisions of the National Parks Act and sold to the Youth Hostels Association for a nominal sum, substantially Department of Education grant aided, on 16 July 1964. [7] In 1963, The Exmoor Review records that a suitable building was being sought for a hostel, with 12-15 bedrooms and some 200 acres of farm land to yield an income for its upkeep. It was to be used for organised parties for the study of particular aspects of Exmoor, under professional leadership. [8] A question was also raised in the 1963 Review over whether the lack of a hostel in central Exmoor was preventing members considering South West Somerset and Exmoor as a primary touring area. It was noted that the Somerset National Park Committee were interested in finding a new building. [9] The 1964 Exmoor Review notes the acquisition of Exemead, Exford, for a Yourth Hostel. It was opened for limited use for two months in the summer and was to be properly adapted with an annexe built to provide accommodation for some 55 hostellers. The extensive range of stabling and other outbuildings were hoped to be used as part of a pony trekking venture of the Youth Hostels' Association, and in connection with field studies especially by organised school parties. [10] Exe Mead was bought by Somerset County Council in 1964, benefiting from a 75 percent grant from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the National Parks Act 1949. It was then sold on to the Youth Hostels Association for £10 and vested in the Youth Hostels Trust. The Association Surveyor then had the main house fully repaired and adapted and an annexe built, to provide 50 berths; this was to Department of Education and Science Standards and 50 percent of the costs were met by them. Three other hostels were similarly given; at Pwll Deri, Pembrokeshire, Helmsley in the North Yorkshire Moors and Crowden in Longdendale in the Peak District. The site has twelve loose boxes and six acres of paddocks, allowing adventure holidays in summer to around 15 young people each week; once a week, a trek runs to Minehead hostel over Dunkery Beacon and the return trip is made the following day. The formal opening was on 7th May 1966 by Mrs Pauline Dower, OBE, JP. [11] The pony trekking centre at Exford was noted to be increasingly popular in 1969. [12] An advert for the hostel is shown in the same volume of the Review on page 79. Exemead was known as Bullen's Stables. It ""consisted only of stables with a few rooms over them and wide double doors through which a carriage and pair could drive."" [13] The ownership history of Exemead Stables adjacent to the main Youth Hostel is not clear from the Ordnance Survey mapping of the site. In 1962, it was recorded as having 15 horses at livery and 12 hirelings. [3,4,5,14,16] A photograph of the site believed to be taken in c.1895 shows the building on the site. [15] In 1962 there was noted to be private stabling for 14 at Exmead House, which until very recently had been used in conjunction with the Exmead Hunting Stables". [16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <2>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1903. [Mapped features: #44916 Outbuilding 1, ; #44917 Outbuilding 2, ; #44918 Outbuilding 3, ]
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <4>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 1975. 1:2,500 Map, 1975. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #44919 Stables, ]
  • <5>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #44915 Main Youth Hostel and 1965 annexe, ]
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Geoinformation. 2008. Vertical Aerial Photography of Exmoor National Park.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Martin, J.. 2018. Youth Hostels Association (England and Wales): Historical listing of all youth hostels and other YHA accommodation. 167-8.
  • <8> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 5 (1963), "The Exmoor Hostel", p8.
  • <9> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 5 (1963), "Youth Hostellers on Exmoor", p43 (KW Tyler).
  • <10> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 6 (1964), The Exmoor National Park: Somerset and Devon Progress Report, 59-60 (Dale Turnbull).
  • <11> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 8 (1967), The Youth Hostel, Exe Mead, Exford, Somerset, 78-9 (KWT).
  • <12> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 10 (1969), YHA, p22 (KWT).
  • <13> Monograph: Hamilton, C.M.. 1953. A history of Exford. N/A. 1st Edition. 28.
  • <14> Verbal communication: Various. 1999-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 31 July 2019.
  • <15> Monograph: Binding, H., Pearce, B. and Pugsley, S.. 2001. Exmoor Century: A century of change through fascinating historic and contemporary photographs of Exmoor. Exmoor Books. 52.
  • <16> Report: Gibbs. 1962. Exford Village Survey. 11.



Grid reference Centred SS 8530 3829 (73m by 67m)
Map sheet SS83NE

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Other Statuses/References

  • None recorded

Record last edited

Aug 20 2019 3:34PM


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