Old Budshead, St Budeaux
NGR:SX 4580 6030
Budshead was Bucheside in Domesday Book, with variations on the name Budockshide between 1242 and the C15. The name means 'the hide of land of St Budoc'; a Cornish saint who gave his name to the parish. A small ovoid enclosure on Warren Point, 1.2km to the west, may have been an early Christian site associated with the veneration of this saint, possibly dating back to the C5-C7; it is possible that the site of Budshead represents a very early farmstead belonging to it.
The majority of the surviving ruins appear to date from the late C16-mid C17, when the Gorges family lived there. Sir Ferdinando Gorges (c.1566-1647) was governor of Plymouth and formed two companies to colonise New England. He founded the settlement of New Plymouth in 1628 and became the first Governor of Maine in 1635. He is thus an important figure in the early colonisation of America, making the early C17 building phases at Budshead particularly interesting and internationally important.
In the late C17-early C18, Budshead was occupied by the Trelawney family, Sir John Trelawney laying out 'extensive formal gardens' there in the 1720s. Later in the C18, the house seems to have reverted to a farm, and by c.1800, when the artist William Payne painted it, the surroundings had become overgrown and ivy was taking over the gatehouse. The buildings were largely demolished in the C20.
The site of the house and gardens lie within a public park. Post-war housing developments fringe the park's southern edge and overlook the site. The ivy-clad ruins sit on a split-level platform, cut into a gentle north-facing slope above Tamerton Creek, whose shore lies a short distance to the north. The house was a double courtyard mansion, which may have faced west, with an outer courtyard flanked by buildings and fronted by a curtain wall containing a gatehouse. The hall range which was of three room and cross-passage plan, lay between the two courtyards; the inner of which was flanked by a possible stable block.
An agricultural court to the north had a large buttressed threshing barn parallel with the outer court and end-to-end with a second building of unknown function. The earthwork terraces of formal gardens step up the slope to the south and south-east, one of which is now a five-a-side football pitch.
Up to 5 periods of development can be suggested from the surviving remains, but owing to the loss of many buildings, this can only be a rough guide.
1C15? The hall range is likely to have retained fabric of this period, though not with any certainty. The threshing barn to the north-west is of C15 form, with multiple buttresses and possibly gabled porch projections. An original appearance similar to the C15 barn at Buckland Abbey can be suggested. 2Mid-late C16? A possible parlour range south of the outer court had a single storey porch of granite ashlar with internal seats and a granite outer arch. This survives, and it is assumed that the remainder of this range was built in the same way, typical of the mid-late C16. 3Early C17. The curtain wall, inner courtyard, gate and south side building (possibly a stable block) seem to belong to this period, when Sir Ferdinando Gorges lived here. The architectural features and martial appearance are in keeping with Sir Ferdinando's status as a major player in the development of the early American colonies. It is possible that the buildings marked in yellow on the plan may also belong to this period, but as neither survives, this cannot be certain. 4Early C18. Sir John Trelawney does not seem to have spent much on buildings at Budshead, but by the 1720s, he had made extensive gardens there. The sequence of three terraces south of the outer court, and slighter terraces and platforms to their east seem to represent this period.
Budshead has a long history, particularly interesting for its connections with the early colonization of America, but the loss of many of its buildings makes it a complex site whose development is difficult to unravel. The formal gardens alongside however are easy to see and interpret, and have the potential to produce excellent evidence for planting schemes and layout.