DiCamillo Companion

Poltimore House (Poltimore Park)

  • House & Family History: The manor of Poltimore was gifted to Haimerius de Arcis, an officer in William the Conqueror's army. Soon afterward the estate passed to the Poltimore family, who sold it circa 1280 to Simon, Lord Montacute. The Poltimore Estate then passed to William Pointington, a canon of Exeter, who, in 1306, gave the property to his pupil, John Bampfylde. The estate remained in the Bampfylde family for the next 600 years. Richard Bampfylde started the current house in 1550, and, though the core of the 16th century house is part of the fabric of the current house, many later alterations took place. Between 1720 and 1750 Sir Coplestone Bampfylde added the south entrance range and remodeled the hall in a Kentian style as a saloon (a room that the Pevsner guide to Devon calls "one of the finest rooms of its kind in the county"). The saloon features fine Rococo plasterwork around oval mirrors and a marble fireplace with hunting horns and dogs' heads. Further remodeling and alterations of the house took place in 1831, when Sir G.W. Bampfylde was elevated to the peerage as the 1st Lord Poltimore (his ancestor, John Bampfylde, had been created a baronet in 1641 by Charles I). Lord Poltimore gave the south range a new porch and remodeled the entrance hall by adding two pairs of Ionic columns that divide the hall from a large imperial staircase, the latter noted for its cast iron Neoclassical balustrade. Circa 1908 a new west wing was added to the house (this wing contains the ballroom, which features an elaborate Italian marble fireplace). The house is built on a quadrangular plan and is eleven bays by two stories above a basement, with attics behind a parapet (there is a courtyard that has been filled in). The south facade is finished in white stucco, while the north range retains three Tudor gables. In 1646 the Treaty of Exeter was negotiated and signed at Poltimore House, thus ending the Civil War in the Southwest. In 1921 the Bampfylde family sold the estate and the house became Poltimore College, a girls' school. During World War II Poltimore housed students from the evacuated Dover College. In 1945 the house became a hospital, a function it served until 1975, when it ended its service as an old people's home as part of the National Health Service. After the old people's home vacated, the abandoned house was allowed to decay and become ruinous, suffering greatly from vandals. In 2000 the Poltimore House Trust was formed to take over the estate; they, together with the Friends of Poltimore House, East Devon District Council, and English Heritage, are working to restore the great house. On April 9, 2024 a suspected arson attack resulted in a fire that did substantial damage to Poltimore House.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The great lime avenue was probably planted to celebrate the accession of King George I in 1714. The grounds as currently seen were very likely laid out and planted in the 1830s. There is a small, stuccoed lodge and gateposts, dated 1681, that feature large balls on slender pillars.

  • Architect: Benjamin Ferrey

    Date: 19th century
    Designed: Service Wings at rear of house, some of which have been demolished.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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  • Title: Buildings of England: Devon, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget; Nairn, Judy
    Year Published: 1989
    Reference: pgs. 688-690
    Publisher: London: Penguin
    ISBN: 0140710507
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Haimerius de Arcis, 11th century. Poltimore family, 13th century. Simon Montacute, 13th century. William Pointington, late 13th-early 14th centuries. Augustus Frederick George Warwick Bampfylde, 2nd Baron Poltimore, 19th century; Bampfylde family here from 1306 until 1921.

    Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

    Ownership Details: Since 2000 owned and managed by Poltimore House Trust.

  • House Open to Public: Limited Access

    Phone: 01392-248-938

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://poltimore.org/

    Historic Houses Member: No