MSO10681 - Dovery Court, Doverhay, Porlock (Building)


A late 15th Century building, which may or may not have been a manor house. It was extended in the 17th Century and restored in 1893. It is now used as a museum and information centre.

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Type and Period (5)

Protected Status

Full Description

English Heritage Listed Building Number: 265461. First Listed on 22 May 1969. [1] L-plan. Stone, Render, roughcast and pebbledash walls. Gabled roof [2] Dovery Court, in Dover Hay, built probably in the latter half of the C15, or earlier, stands on the site of a still older house, the chamfered stone base of which was uncovered in places during the partial restoration of the present house. Beneath the hall floor encaustic tiles, dated to no earlier than 1450, have been found. There was formerly a pitched stone court in front of the house, now buried beneath the roadway, and opposite, remains of other substantial buildings bearing traces of fire. [3] Mr Chadwyck-Healey led a tour of the property for the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1906. The discussion of the visit mentions that the building is sited on the site of an earlier house, and that the house was restored by Mr Buckle for Chadwyck-Healey. The window and the room above, including the garderobe, are also mentioned. The southern section of the building were said to be "kitchen and offices", including an extant "buttery hatch"; it was suggested an oak screen separated the kitchen from the buttery. The description also mentions "a small squint… near the fireplace looking out on the road". Hooks in the walls of the hall are suggested to have held tapestries. [4] The house is now used as a reading room and library, it was very much restored in 1893 (date stone over door)and it is not of outstanding architectural interest. See G.P. AO/65/176/2. [5,6] II* Doverhay Reading Room Formerly Manor House. Interesting example of small 15th century manor house. Restored and with some later alterations. Rough-cast on rubble, flush quoins, square stone end stacks, one on exposed chimney breast with off-sets, flat copings to end gables. Two-storey, L-shaped; salient exterior feature is large Perpendicular window of 4 lights, moulded stone mullions and single transom, richly traceried with square head and drip-mould, iron saddle bars and stanchions. Square head 2-light casement above with moulded stone mullions. Other windows in S. elevation and inward-facing N. elevation include leaded casements with carved oak frames and Perpendicular head tracery. Four-centred arch moulded stone doorframe. Interior features include good open stone fireplace to ground floor, stone staircase to 1st floor, open timber roof of three 1/2-bays with arched principals, collar beams, 3 purlins, moulded wall plates; restored. Stone-walled forecourt with wall enclosing also later cottage abutting N. end elevation of Reading Room. [7] Fragment of a 15th Century manor house, restored and remodelled in 1883. Now the County Library Reading Room. The hall window is in the form of a four light window with transom and tracery with small circles in the spandrels of ogee arches, typical of churches in this neighbourhood. Big fireplaces inside and originial ceiling. [8] (SS 88814675) Dovery Reading Rooms (NAT). [9] Manor house, now dwelling, museum and information centre. Late C15, extended possibly C17, extensively restored c1895 by Edmund Buckle. Roughcast over rubble, exposed (right) gable end, quoins, slate roofs, coped verges to main block, external stone stack right in gable end and rising at rear of main block. L-plan: central hall with addition left, cross wing projecting right. One and a half and two storeys, lower independently roofed addition left with C19 casement rising through eaves, pentice hood to 3-light bay window, door to right with pentice porch; main block, first floor 2-light ovolo moulded mullion window, ground floor good 8-light mullioned and transomed Perpendicular window under hood mould with C19 ferramentae, depressed 4-centred arch moulded doorframe right, independently roofed wing right, stair light gable end, leaded casements with carved oak frames and Perpendicular tracery, extensively renewed late C19. Interior: partially sighted, hall fine ogee-headed lintel to fireplace carried on shaped corbels, renewed 6-panel compartment ceiling, stone newel stair, ogee headed doorframe, arched wooden door frame in upper storey with exposed 3-bay arch braced roof, moulded wall plate; wing not seen. Restored at the expense of Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey. (Photograph in NMR; Chadwyck-Healey, The History of the Part of West Somerset, 1901). [10] The eastern part of the present village formed part of the separate manor of Doverhay, recorded in Domesday as “Doveri.” At an uncertain date this became absorbed into the parish of Luccombe, providing the latter with a tongue of land projecting northwards to the sea. The noteworthy 15th century house, known as Doverhay Manor is now a museum of local history, but was reputedly “never a manor house, as often claimed.” Doverhay Manor House, which dates from the late 15th Century… was possibly extended in the 17th Century. A notewothy feature is the eight-light mullioned and transomed Perpendicular window. The tracery contains small circles in the spandrels of the ogee arches. Pevsner states these “are typical of churches in this neighbourhood.” Also notable is the three-bay arch-braced roof and moulded wall-plate; a fine ogee-headed fireplace lintel supported on shaped corbels, and a stone newel stair. There was an extensive restoration in 1883 by Edmund Buckle, at the expense of Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healy. [11] In 1894 a lending library of 300 volumes was opened. The library continued in Dovery Manor which had been restored by Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey and was run by volunteers up to 1969. The building also housed the reading room from 1899 and still continues as a Billiard and Snooker Club with a Museum and Information Centre. It is suggested that the building was a Dower House for the Lady when her husband died. [12] A report was commissioned to inform proposals to insert a doorway between the upper Museum and Snooker rooms within the museum. It was believed that a doorway had previously been located in this position but inspection of the fabric concluded this feature was, in fact, a window. The report considered the phasing of the building concerned and concludes that the proposed insertion of a doorway through an internal wall will go through an historic partition wall between two separate dwellings. The earliest phase of the building was determined to date from at least the 16th Century or earlier. [13] Between 2007 and 2008 an archaeological watching brief and building recording work was undertaken during works in the garden of the building, together with the removal and replacement of a modern building and the creation of a new doorway through the wall between the upper museum and upper snooker rooms on the first floor. The works uncovered (and partially destroyed) a bread oven that had been inserted between the fireplace and stair turret on the ground floor and these latter two features were thought to be contemporary. A window (thought by Chadwyck-Healey to be a doorway) was noted on the first floor and the removal of stonework in the wall to create the doorway also allowed the recovery of a complete medieval roof slate, which had been used to level a stone. The most significant finding of the works was that the earliest detectable building lay on the site of the present snooker rooms and that the building was partially demolished when the Dovery Manor was built up against it and a single larger building formed. It is not clear whether this is the building recorded on the HER as MEM22183 or the late 15th Century building mentioned previously. [14] The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [15] The building was subject to survey in February 2015 by the SANHS Building Research Group (Exmoor and West Somerset). The building had already been subjecct to a number of reports, especially in relation to renovation works carried out in 1893 and 2007. The latter revealed the southern block was the original open hall of a probably bigger building. It is thought that the Victorian renovations were of good quality and where major features were restored, they followed the form of the existing fabric where possible, although they used a distinctive hard cement mortar for restoration works. It is suggested that the south block was first constructed as an open hall, possibly with a 15th Century date, with the main block built to adjoin and openings filled to the wall to the south hall, which would have become subsidiary, possibly a service wing with a fireplace at its eastern end. This may have occurred in the late 15th Century and any ancillary buildings may also have been removed at this time. The south block may then have been ceiled in the late 16th Century and a ground floor fireplace inserted at the western end. There may also have been an external stair in this block and a first floor fireplace inserted into the main block at this time. Further work appears to have taken place in the 17th Century and the north block built as a self contained cottage in the early 19th Century. Restoration work then took place in 1893 and 2007-8. [17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [18]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <1> Unassigned: Webster CJ, Historic Environment Record. 2005. Staff Comments, Somerset County Council.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <3> Monograph: Chadwyck-Healy, CEH. 1901. History of West Somerset. p297-300.
  • <4> Article in serial: Anonymous. 1906. Dovery Court. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 52. Part I, pp 31-32.
  • <6> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 9 July 1965.
  • <7> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: R.D. Of Williton, Somerset (March 1962) 64..
  • <8> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p275-6.
  • <9> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1973. 1:2500. 1:25,000.
  • <10> Index: 2/1/1986. Thirty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of West Somerset (Somerset)/Exmoor National Park.
  • <11> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Porlock: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p5, 10, 12, 17.
  • <12> Monograph: Corner, Dennis. 1992. Porlock in Those Days. Exmoor Books. p79, 93.
  • <13> Report: Humphreys, C.. 2007. The Doverhay Museum, Porlock, Somerset: A Brief Report Considering the Date of the Wall Between the Museum and the Billiard Hall through which it is Proposed to Force an Opening.
  • <14> Report: Woodcock, A.. 2008. Report on an archaeological watching brief undertaken at Dovery Manor, Porlock, between September 2007 and June 2008.
  • <15> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <16> Report: Pratt, N.. 2013. Porlock Conservation Area: Appraisal Document. 37, 38, 76, Figures 8, 40.
  • <17> Report: Ewing, M.. 2015. Survey at Dovery Manor, Porlock.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35861, Extant 7 February 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1076/24/48/1
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1076/24/48/2
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12165
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7879
  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE11
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35861
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 31174
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35128



Grid reference Centred SS 8880 4675 (14m by 18m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (1)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Sep 27 2022 3:04PM


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