Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Monkton Old Hall  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
On the N side of Church Terrace in Monkton some 60m E of the Priory Church of Saint Nicholas.  


Broad Class

House, possibly the guest-house of Monkton Priory, C14 to C15. Monkton Priory was a daughter house of the Abbey of Seez, and its fortunes fell with the French wars when alien houses were sequestrated, finally closed in 1414. It was then administered by a royal steward until being granted to St Albans Abbey. The period of building seems to be one of great difficulty, there is no written evidence for the building or of its use. Owned by the Devereux family, Earls of Essex, from C16 to 1814, then sold to the Orielton estate, then sold to the Bush estate in 1857. Ruinous when leased and repaired 1879-85 by J. R. Cobb, probably to his own plans, as at Pembroke and Manorbier castles. Leased from 1933 by Muriel Thompson, gardening journalist. Minor alterations by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1950. Miss Thompson married Air-Commodore J. B. Bowen in 1955 and they lived at the Old Hall until his death in 1969. Sold to the Landmark Trust c. 1971, restored 1979, by L. Bedall-Smith. The plan is of an E-W hall with cross-wing to E, in two parts, the N end added in the C15 or C16, all on vaulted undercrofts. Fine rib-vaulted long undercroft under the hall and S part of the cross-wing. Two small low vaults under the projecting S end of crosswing, and a vault under C15 N end range. There seems to have been a cross-passage, E of the hall, from the N door to a door on the W side of the crosswing. Blocked doors from hall and undercroft show that there was also a medieval NW wing. The big pointed external recess on the S end of the cross-wing is unexplained. There is a similar but less deep internal arch on the E end of the hall. Odd also was the placing of the big chimneypiece, now in the hall, in the upper S room of the cross-wing. Possibly there was a C16 rebuilding of the cross-wing S wall. There were outside steps to a S door into the hall, now removed. J. R. Cobb in 1880 noted that the fallen roof of the cross-wing had been dated 1819 and that the vault of the porch had recently fallen, that of the NE wing in more remote times. He turned the hall S door back to a window, reopened the crosswing SW door, and built a two-storey NW service wing on old foundations. His windows were sashes, replaced by leaded lights after 1950. In 1950 the pointed W end window to the hall was inserted, using the former hall S door, by then a window; the hall S windows were then made a matching set of three and a new chimneypiece was made for the C18 W fireplace in the hall. In 1979, Cobb's NW service range was removed, the S cross-wing upper floor was rebuilt, removing the parapet; the SW cross-passage door was closed and the outside steps removed, and the hall N side round chimneystack was rebuilt. The C16 hooded chimneypiece from the S bedroom was moved to the W end of the hall. New oak doors with ironmongery salvaged from Castlebythe and Warren churches, new paving in the N courtyard, with stone salvaged from Stackpole Court.  

House, grey limestone, some squared, some rubble, and slate close-eaved roofs. Roughly T-shaped, medieval, with first floor hall, and cross-wing with added. Hall on E-W axis is over an undercroft, extending under cross-wing. Windows are generally leaded metal windows of the 1930s and 1950s. Hall S has three long leaded windows with flat heads, 1950. Undercroft has a segmental-pointed window to left and a window to right, against cross-wing projection. W end has squared stonework, stone corniced W stack, and large pointed window on left, grey stone, chamfered former door removed from hall S, apparently medieval, but said to be a C18 insertion there. Cross wing S section older. This projects with broad slightly half-hipped roof (replacing a parapet with chimneys removed 1979). Blocked pointed chamfered medieval doorway in W side wall (steps removed 1979), square C20 window above. S end has squared stonework, corbelled upper floor with two square C20 windows (three windows and parapet with three chimneys are in 1853 view), over giant pointed recess with cut stone voussoirs, framing lower floors. Pointed chamfered medieval doorway to undercroft porch with square window to left. Tiny windows above under arch apex: a small one in stone frame to left, a blank panel to centre and a tiny lancet to right. E side of cross-wing has much disturbed masonry, coursed and squared to left, possibly rebuilt. Three square-headed windows to upper floor, the centre one blank, stone sills to centre and right. Ground floor has window to left, narrow window to centre left and two close-set windows to right, the right one a cambered-headed 3-light. Stone sills. Below are marks of a removed low building, and a rectangular light to undercroft. N wall, to right of NE wing has pointed medieval stone doorway to left, chamfered with diagonal stops, C20 oak door. Leaded window to first floor under a section of wall corbelled on a stone slab, the corbelling stepped up to right. N wall of hall has lateral chimney projection with splayed upper part and tall cylindrical stack. Wall to right rebuilt after NW wing was removed. To left of door, splayed angle to rear NE wing with two loops to stair. NE wing has massive square N chimney projection with battered sides and square stack. Small stone S end stack. W side has renewed 6-pane sashes at ground level, lighting basement, a tall blocked opening to left of centre apparently breaking internal floor level, first floor left leaded window. N end has small upper window to right of chimney. E side has straight joint to left, loop to first floor left, and window to right. Small attic window above. Late C19 sloping buttress at basement level centre and boarded low door against straight joint to left.  

Entrance into tiled passage. Hall to W is limewashed with open timber roof on stone corbels. Three C19 arch-braced collar trusses. Pointed blocked medieval door on left end of N wall. E wall is framed by giant pointed arch with stone voussoirs. Cambered headed doorway to centre with C20 oak door, segmental-pointed former door to right, in stone surround, part-blocked. Two small loops under arch head light crosswing upper floor. Big C16 W fireplace moved from S bedroom, with stone piers, heavy corbels and monolith chamfered cambered lintel, with rubble stone above up to projecting shield. Small stone lamp-shelf each side. Cross-passage has C19 joists. Two steps down at N end, two S of hall, and steps at SW corner to former SW door. S end window has splayed reveal. Two rooms to E with C19 partitions and C19 to C20 character. SW room has splayed reveal to small S lancet, corner fireplace with tooled lintel on corbels, probably C20. Present kitchen to N, then narrow WC with E window in splayed reveal. To E of N entrance is winding stair, with square-head opening and right jamb of tooled chamfered stone. Opening off to N to kitchen, then a small NE loop, indicating that N range is added. Stair winds down to long E-W undercroft. Three bays with broad square diagonal ribs and three transverse ribs (not at W end). C19 fireplace to centre N with shelf on corbels, and 4 steps in wall to blocked NW door. E end narrow light with splayed reveal. S wall has segmental pointed heads to two windows, and opening at left with two steps up to segmental-pointed entry to low S porch with plastered curved vault. Opening with stone lintel on porch W wall into low parallel curved-vaulted chamber. Splayed recess on W, and large splayed recess on S, infilled with small window. NE wing has vaulted former kitchen accessed by steps from winding stair. Rough curved vault running N-S. Two recesses on E separated by tapering pier, the left one by N end fireplace, right one possibly once a window. N end fireplace with big stone jamb on left and heavy oak lintel. W side has two recesses with jambs down to floor and small C20 6-pane windows set high. Bedroom above kitchen has corner entry, two corbels on W wall, two on E. Tiled floor, and 1950 grey stone N fireplace with chamfered lintel. S end has square-headed recess to left adjoining long recess at S end of E wall with small loop. Stairs continue up to upper floor of S cross-wing. Boarded floors, stone voussoirs of hall arch to right, with small loop. N end has window to left of opening to stairs, wall is thinner at gable level. Three-sided C19 ceilings. Two bathrooms to E. S end main bedroom with square-headed narrow recess on W wall, with loop into hall to right and C20 window to left. Two similar windows to S, one to E. Winding stairs continue up with loop on W, to attic of N wing. Stone jambs to top of stair. Corner plank door with grey stone cambered lintel. C19 roof, concealed by ceiling. NE corner fireplace with chamfered grey stone massive lintel. C20 window to left and one on E.  

Reason for designation
Included at Grade I as an exceptional example of the early vaulted houses of the region.  

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