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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Montacute House, The Borough (North side, off), Montacute
Civil Parish: Montacute
Grid Ref: ST 4994 1716 (ST 41 NE)
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Image: Image of HER 56223 - Photo by Somerset County Council (25 September 1985)
  HER 56223 - Photo by Somerset County Council (25 September 1985)

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is a National Trust property open to the public at certain times. [Information last updated on 09 December 2002]


Country house. Circa 1590-1601, remodelled 1785-87. Probably by William Arnold for Sir Edward Phelips. Ham stone ashlar; Welsh slate roofs behind open balustered parapets with obelisk finials, coped gables, some Dutch style; ashlar chimney stacks, including plain stacks set diagonally and Doric columns. H-plan three storeys, attic and basement. East elevation original entrance facade; 13 bays, of which outer and centre bays project; plinth, string courses, open parapets hollow-chamfer mullioned and transomed windows set in wave mould recesses outer bays have angled 1+5+1-light bay windows of two storeys, crowned with segmental pediments; above 5-light windows, and then 3-light attic windows with labels in Dutch gables; in returns 6 and 4-light windows; the windows in crosswing of 3, 3, 5, 3 and 3-lights either side of central bay, two lower floors double-transomed; the lower 5-light windows project slightly under pediments at first floor level; centre bay has 4-light windows, and 3-light on returns to first and second floors; former entrance has a semi-circular arched doorway with lozenge decorated imposts and keystone, with small plaque over parapet over this and over the 5 window bays semi-circular arched with statue in niche to centre bay; statues in shell-head niches between all second floor windows, circular niches under principal first floor windows, and pairs shell-head niches with seats at ground floor level. West elevation, now principal entrance, added 1785-87, possible designed by Edward Phelips and a local builder, and incorporating major fragments of Clifton Maybank House, Yeovil, of c1546-64 also 13 bays, of which bays 1\3 and 11\13 are surviving C16 work, with 4-light mullioned and transomed windows, plus 3-light to attics in Dutch gables; bays 2, 3 and 11, 12 extended to accomodate stairs, with matching windows at staggered levels; the remainder recessed; the second floor set back again, bays 5 and 9 have 4-light windows to 2 lower levels; second floor windows, of 3 lights, are to bays 4, 6, 8 and 10, gables with chimneys to bays 5 and 9: porch to bay 7, 3 storeys, has moulded 4-centre arch to open porch, and matching inner doorway; above an elaborately carved heraldic panel, originally for Clifton Maybank, but with Phelips arms substituted, then two 3-light windows and a stepped gable; centre section with reclaimed fluted pilaster shafts with heraldic beasts on the parapets. North and south elevations almost identical, 4 bays to match, with composite oriel windows of 2+6+2 wide lights, the outer pairs double transomed and flat, the centre semi-circular on plan and quadruple-transomed, with Dutch gable over these. Inside, a vaulted cross-entrance lobby, a screens passage, with stone screen to north, and panelled hall with plaster frieze, fireplace and decorative plasterwork panel, all early C17: to south the dining room, reshaped in C19, and also has wallpaper and a fireplace from Coleshill House, Berkshire; south west parlour has C16 chimney piece, freize and panelling. Stairs, bays 2\3 and 11\12 west elevation, original, 2.15 m wide round central stone core. On first floor the north-east room, the library or great chamber the most important room, with a "porch" chimney piece, plaster frieze and stained glass being original work; on second floor the long gallery, although now modified. The Phelips family was in the area before 1466; Edward Phelips, original builder, was a rich lawyer; the family occupied the house until the end of C19; 1915 leased to Lord Curzon; 1931 the property purchased by the SPAB and presented to the National Trust. Scheduled Ancient Monument (Somerset County No 187). (Girouard M and others, Montacute House, National Trust, 1985, with short bibliography; Country Life, 16 April 1898, 4 June 1904, 12 and 19 June 1915, 20 April 1929, 20 and 27 October and 3 November 1955 etc). {1}

English Heritage Listed Building Number: 434945. First Listed on 19/04/1961. English Heritage Unified Designation System Asset Number: 1252021 {3}


1 Statutory List - Eighty-sixth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (27/10/1987) Location: HER collections.
2 Description - Girouard M. Montacute House, National Trust (1985)
3 Data transfer - Listed Buildings database, English Heritage. Record ID: 434945 (2005)
4 Mention - Anon. The national memorial to Queen Alexandria. Country Life  (18/6/1927), 986-93.
5 Photographs - Barber, E. The counties and shires of Great Britain: Somerset. Country Life  (5/12/1931), 616-22 Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.

Record created in December 1985

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