MSO9423 - The Nunnery, 4-8, Church Street, Dunster (Building)


A terrace of three houses, three storeys tall, built of stone with a slate roof. The first and second floors have slate-hung fronts with overhangs at floor levels. Roof timbers from the building have been dated to the mid 15th Century.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

"The Nunnery, a fine partly C14 house of three storeys with ground floor of stone and two overhanging timber-framed storeys above. They are slate hung." [1] "The Nunnery" is a short terrace of three cottages. It is of outstanding architectural interest. (See G.P. AO/65/125/6.) [2,3] Nos 4, 6 and 8, Grade II*, Church Street. Rank of three cottages, 15th century with later alterations. (For full description see list.)[4] Rank of 3 cottages, 15th century with later alterations. Rubble, slate roof, eaves, end gables with copings. Three storeys. 1st and 2nd floors have slate- hung fronts with overhangs at floor levels. Six windows, leaded iron casements in wood frames, stable-type doors. Right-hand end elevation has 15th century single-light window openings with moulded stone frames and cusped heads. Interiors said to be of interest, access not possible at time of survey. [5] English Heritage Listed Building Number: 264655. First Listed on 22/05/1969. [6] 12 timbers from principal rafters and purlins in the roof were sampled for dendrochronological analysis in November 2003 and May 2006. A felling date of between 1453 and 1489 was established for one of these timbers, though whether this was part of the original construction of the roof is not known. No other timbers were datable. [7] The building is within Dunster Conservation Area. The appraisal document written in 2002 states the following: "The Nunnery in Church Street, probably of 14th century date. The latter is a misnomer, as there is no evidence of nuns residing there, although there is reference to a date of 1346 when “the site was granted to the Abbot and Convent of Cleeve by Hugh Pero of Oaktrow.” The more likely origin is as an almonry or guest house attached to the priory. Historic records suggest it was known as High House prior to the 19th century and is described in documents held at the Castle as the “Tenement of St. Lawrence.” This appears to be linked with the small chantry chapel, also dedicated to St. Lawrence, opening from the north aisle which has an entry arch and screen, a stone altar and floor tiles thought to date from the 13th to 14th century." The appraisal goes on to say "The Nunnery (4-8 Church Street) is a long three storey six bay gabled house with tiled roof and slate-hung projecting upper floors, divided into three cottages. It probably dates from the late 14th to early 15th century…and was originally attached to the Priory. After the Dissolution, it was sold in 1620 to Robert Quirke of Minehead and turned into dwellings, although in 1781 is recorded as being in use as a malthouse. The windows have leaded-light iron casements in timber frames, and there are stable-type vertical plank doors. The east end elevation has a 15th century opening with moulded surround and cusped head." [8] Binding says that the property is "a three storey, jettied building with two tiny medieval windows high up in the east wall. The house has a chequered history. In 1346 the site was granted to the Abbot and Convent of Cleeve by Hugh Pero of Oaktrow and the house was probably built soon after. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was sold and in 1620 bough as 'the High House' by Robert Quirke of Minehead. First rented as dwellings, in 1781 the building was used as a malthouse. It has never been used by nuns and the name may just be a flight of eighteenth century fancy based on a misunderstanding of the terms of the original grant." [9] The buildings were visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. They received a BAR score of 6. [10] The buildings are shown on 2018 MasterMap data as a run of three adjoining buildings within a longer row on the north of Church Street. The western building is labelled "8". [11] An early 20th Century postcard featuring the property is held by the Historic England Archive. [12] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [13] The building is mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [14]

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <1> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p158.
  • <2> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 2 June 1965.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 02/06/1965. SS94SE. 25.
  • <4> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) West Somerset District (Dunster Ph) Somerset 4th August 1983.
  • <5> Index: 4/8/1983. Twenty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. District of West Somerset (Somerset).
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. CJ Webster, Historic Environment Record, 28 November 2005.
  • <7> Report: Tyers, E. 2006. The Nunnery, Dunster, Somerset: Dendrochronological Analysis of Oak Timbers. English Heritage Technical Report. 52/2006.
  • <8> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority. p6, 20.
  • <9> Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press. p76.
  • <10> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <11>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #39099 ]
  • <12> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1907. The Nunnery, taken from Church Street in the south-east. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <13> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36920, Extant 17 May 2022.
  • <14> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 21, 32, 60, 93, Figures 7, 28, 63.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/23/1
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/23/2
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/23/3
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12064
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO9451
  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE25
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE94
  • National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 41940
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36920
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 521840
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34923



Grid reference Centred SS 9913 4367 (22m by 14m)
Map sheet SS94SE

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Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Sep 5 2022 2:19PM


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