Fardel Manor
Subject:Fardel Manor, Cornwood

NGR:SX 6115 5740

The placename Fardel means 'fourthendeal', or a quarter of a larger estate.  It does not appear in Domesday Book, though some evidence of earlier settlement in the vicinity is provided by an early Christian memorial stone of the C6-C7, found here in 1860 and now in the British Museum.
Fardel was acquired by marriage in the C14 by the Raleigh family of Smallridge, East Devon.  It remained in the family, that of Sir Walter Raleigh, until the mid-C17 when his son sold it to the Hele family, also of Wembury (see separate report).  A private chapel here was licenced in 1422, but appears to have earlier origins.
Much useful information has been written about Fardel due to its Raleigh connections, though there is no evidence that he ever lived there.  The property seems to have been a tenanted farm from the later C18 to the mid-C20, ensuring the survival of much of its ancient fabric.


A complex group of buildings comprising a double-courtyard mansion with a third courtyard of farm buildings to the west.  On a largely level site overlooking a shallow valley.  The house faces west across a walled outer court, with a pair of cross-wings at either end of the hall.  The outer court is flanked on the north by a C15 chapel & C16 lodgings, and fronted by a long C17 wall, perhaps once containing a gatehouse.
An inner court east of the hall range is flanked by a kitchen wing and a curtain wall with small gatehouse to the north, entered over a stream which may once have formed a mock moat.  Earthworks of a large rectangular fishpond survive to the north-east and traces of terraced formal gardens to the south.  The farm buildings to the west were not surveyed but contain at least one C17 building.



Chapel flanking outer court, with C13-C14 common rafter roof trusses. Hall range in existence by this date but rebuilt later. 

2Early-mid C15

Storeyed cross-wing with high status upper chamber added to south end of hall.  Chapel modified and reconsecrated 1422 with barrel vaulted roof replacing earlier common rafter structure.

3Late C15-early C16

Storeyed cross-wing with high status upper chamber added to north end of hall.  Carved granite cruciform windows to first floor.

4Late C16

Hall and cross-passage rebuilt, with large porch to front and stair turret to rear.  Possible barn to rear of inner court, flanking new curtain wall and gatehouse.  Lodgings range added to west end of chapel, which became a storage barn with inserted hayloft.

5Early C17

Kitchen extension added to south cross-wing, parlour wing to rear of cross-passage; both with carved granite door and window frames.  Service building beside inner court gatehouse, possible stable to west of outer court.

6Late C17-early C18

South cross-wing of house remodelled in Queen Anne style with moulded plaster ceilings and panelling.  Grand stair to centre of range with moulded plaster ceiling in classical style.  Probable formal garden to south with stone rubble ha-ha overlooking fields beyond.  High stone rubble wall with tall ornamental gatepiers, fronting outer court.


Modifications to house and outbuildings consistent with farmhouse status, including new farm buildings to west with agricultural water mill.
House greatly modified and rebuilt in early C20, with much of roof replaced, including chapel, restored in 1930s.  Many transplanted architectural salvage elements added to house in mid-C20.


Fardel is a fascinating house with a particularly well preserved developmental sequence.  Despite the loss of most of the ancient roof structures and introduction of alien architectural fittings, it retains many important features and is a classic example of the development of the courtyard mansion in medieval and early post-medieval Devon.

Robert Waterhouse, BA, AIFA; Archaeologist & Architectural Historian