Lower Cotterbury
Subject:Lower Cotterbury, Blackawton

NGR:SX 8200 5085

Cotterbury seems to have been a un-named medieval farmstead within the Domesday Manor of Blackawton, taking its name from a nearby prehistoric burial mound – Cotta's Beorg.  Little is known about it until the C18, when two farms were there - Higher and Lower Cotterbury, then owned by the Roope family of merchants from Dartmouth.  In 1745, it was left to the Holdsworths, another family of Dartmouth merchants, who seem to have sold or leased it by 1747 to a surgeon, James Pinhey.
His son John Pinhey sold both farms in 1783 to a merchant from Guernsey, Peter Ougier.  Ougier had made a small fortune from privateering and it seems likely that the parkland and formal gardens at Lower Cotterbury date from his period of ownership.  Ougier sold Cotterbury Barton (probably Higher Cotterbury) to L. Newman Esq of Dartmouth, but retained Lower Cotterbury until 1810, when he sold it to Peter Jellard, who remodelled the house.  The Jellards sold the farm in 1848 to the Hakewill family, who ran it as a farm until the mid-C20.

A photocopy of a sketch dated 1810 was given to the present owner by his predecessor and is reproduced here.  It shows the west front of the house in 1810, with the turning circle in front and trees screening outbuildings to the right and left.

Description:

The house and its outbuildings lie on level ground at the head of a shallow combe, looking westwards down a valley towards Blackawton village, which is visible in the middle distance.  A small group of outbuildings are terraced into a gentle slope just north of the house, and are overlooked by a terraced formal garden with a large walled garden adjoining it to the north.  A large six-acre field to the west has been levelled and treated as parkland, crossed by a curving drive and edged with a ha-ha to the west.  Some specimen trees survive.

The house was originally L plan, probably of three room and cross-passage plan with a projecting wing.  This was later converted to a double-pile, two-storeyed Georgian house with a symmetrical west front.



Dating:

1c.1560-1640

House built to L plan, probably replacing an earlier building on the same site.  Probably a fully floored building with three room and cross-passage plan to main range, and fireplaces to all ground floor rooms.  Detached building to north was probably a stable, flanking a yard to its east.

2c.1670-1720?

Single storey addition to north end of house almost immediately followed by gate arch of dressed slate between it and stable block.  Small cattle linhay added at north end of farmyard.

31783-c.1800

House remodelled, with west wall modified to form 5 bay symmetrical front in Georgian style, with central door (see 1810 drawing).  Park laid out to west of house, by amalgamating several small fields and infilling valley floor with earth to form level area fronting house.  Ha-ha, drive and formal gardens probably of the same date, with ornamental plantings of plane, chestnut & fir.  Existing pond to west may have been retained as a decorative feature, viewed from raised terrace outside ha-ha to west.

41810-1848

In 1810, Peter Jellard remodelled house by filling in angle of earlier L plan building with two-storey construction.  Datestone in east wall records this work.  Other farm buildings added, perhaps at this time, or a little later.  Formal gardens and park slowly fell into disrepair.

5C20

Farmhouse badly damaged by fire, older western range falls into ruin and remainder re-roofed.  Formal gardens wholly abandoned by this time, many trees lost.

Conclusions:

Lower Cotterbury is an interesting house with regionally important park & garden remains, clearly showing the transition from farmhouse to small mansion and back to a farmhouse again, within fifty years.  It appears to have been part of a group of late C18 –early C19 small country villas in the hinterland of Dartmouth, built by wealthy merchants and naval officers.

Robert Waterhouse, BA, AIFA; Archaeologist & Architectural Historian