MSO10534 - Leigh Barton Farmhouse, Roadwater (Building)


A grange of Cleeve Abbey by the 16th Century. The farmhouse is late medieval and was enlarged in 1627, being mainly rebuilt in 1811. The south wing was formerly a private chapel, whose first chaplain was the martyr Dom Philip Powel.

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Grange of Cleeve Abbey, now farmhouse. Late medieval in origin, enlarged 1627, majority rebuilt 1811. Rendered over rubble, steeply pitched slate roof, moulded cornice, stone stacks gable ends and to right of entrance, latter said to be dated 1811. Courtyard plan: farmhouse facing East, South wing formerly a private chapel, North East annexe, West front closed by shelter shed. Farmhouse: 2 storeys, 4 bays; 12 pane sash windows, groundfloor tripartite 12 pane sash windows, one left and 2 right of Ham stone trabeated Roman Doric porch with frieze, 3 steps, recessed 6-panel door with side lights. Rear elevation onto courtyard, corrugated iron roof. C20 fenestration, projecting slate hung gable end with attached annexe in North West corner, built as a self contained unit. Annexe: squared and coursed red sandstone, asbestos slate roof, 2 storeys, one bay lit only on North front, large external double stack left of rebuilt entrance wall; right stack inscribed in square plaque 1627 GP (Giles Poyntz) AP. West Somerset slate roofed pentice masking lower portion of stack, carried on 2 circular columns flanking C19 door. Interior: single cell, chamfered beams with scroll stops, ovolo moulded door frame to stairs, first floor room said to contain similar doorcase with plasterwork frieze and badly mutilated fireplace. Upper floor accessible now only from farmhouse, alterations made when room ceased to be residential and became brewhouse and bakehouse, copper vat with stoke hole under to left of fireplace which also contains oven. Cambered pebble pathway links entrance of annexe with that of South wing, said to have been a private chapel, now reroofed with inserted floor and lacking distinguishing features. West side, shelter shed, West Somerset slate roof with C19 door in West West corner. Between circa 1609 and 1691 Leigh Barton was occupied by the Roman Catholic Poyntz family who had a resident chaplain. One of these chaplains, Philip Powel was later martyred at Tyburn in 1646 during the Civil War. It is thought that the annexe provided accommodation for the resident chaplain, though there is an alternative suggestion that it housed 2 female relatives of the builder, Giles Poyntz, who wished to live in religious seclusion. (VAG Report, unpublished SRO, 1973; VCH Somerset, Vol 5 forthcoming). [1] English Heritage Listed Building Number: 264874. First Listed on 21/12/1984. [2] Stone, Render walls. Gabled roof [3] Leigh Barton was a grange of Cleeve Abbey by the 16th Century. It was let by the abbot in 1527. [5] The building was visited as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 5. [6] A disused chamber, now in an adjacent farm building but built as a Roman Catholic chapel, contains a grotesque frieze, damaged and part missing below the flat part of a three sided barrel. It includes urns with floral arabesques and dates from c.1630. [7] The house was built by Giles Poyntz on land his father Robert had bought. The house was apparently mostly demolished in 1809 "to be replaced by an attractive dwelling with a classical porch of yellow Ham stone". A huge kitchen is in a detached block to the rear with a well under the flagstone floor, a stone copper for beer brewing, ancient oak beams and iron studded oak doors. Outside is a red stone chimney stack with a datestone inscribed 1627 and GP, A (Giles and Agnes Poyntz, nee Risdon), and two others. Giles' grandfather Edward is buried in St George's Church, Dunster at the east end of the north aisle. In the early 17th Century it was apparently the centre of "an island of faith" of a small company of Catholics strewn across Exmoor and the Quantock and Brendon Hills who would come here to hear mass in the chapel (forbidden at that time). Agnes brought with her a Catholic chaplain named Dom Philip Powel, a Welshman also known by his mother's name of Morgan. He later left during the Civil War, but was betrayed to the Parliamentarians whilst on a boat to Wales and was later executed. Giles Poyntz forfeited four fifths of his estate, restored 20 years later (shortly before his death) by Charles II. Catholic chaplains served the chapel until about 1803. It has a slate floor from the estate's quarry and a little dais at the west end where the altar stood, with a heavy door behind opening into a stone floored sacristry with a recess for the sacred vessels (originally carefully concealed). The final chaplain, Philip Compton, died aged 69 in Dunster. The chapel was in later times used as a barn. The article contains photographs of the interior. [8] The author stayed at the house in 1937. The house was lit with Tilley lights downstairs and candles upstairs. The cooker was a Valor Perfection and water was heated with an Ideal boiler, with an adjacent ledge "a splendid restin place for reviving weakling lambs". The old kitchen was part of the house and adjoined the 16th Century chapel. It is described as built of faded red stone, with beams across the ceiling and a stone flagged floor, one stone covering a well. A large copper for brewing beer was in one corner and an adjacent smaller one was for boiling clothes. A large open fireplace, c.3 to 4 feet wide and several deep, was in another corner, with a bread oven on one side built into the wall and iron hooks attached to the brick arch above. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Index: 21/12/1984. Thirty-first List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Distict of West Somerset (Somerset).
  • <2> Unassigned: Webster CJ, Historic Environment Record. 2005. Staff Comments, Somerset County Council.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <4> Report: Vernacular Architecture Group. April 1973. Vernacular Architecture Group Report.
  • <5> Monograph: Dunning, R. W. (editor). 1985. A History of the County of Somerset. Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research. 5. 42, 45-7, 52.
  • <6> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13. Visited by N Pratt.
  • <7> Monograph: Penoyre, J. and Penoyre, J.. 1994. Decorative plasterwork in the houses of Somerset 1500 - 1700: A regional survey. Somerset County Council. 78.
  • <8> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 25 (1984), "Priest on Exmoor", p2427 (B Lawrence).
  • <9> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 26 (1985), "Leigh Barton in 1937", p77 (PM Rowell).



Grid reference Centred ST 0250 3585 (31m by 27m)
Map sheet ST03NW

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Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5): 375/4/116
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7797
  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 03 NW14
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 188394
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 30815

Record last edited

Jul 24 2019 3:45PM


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