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© Mr Steve Beck

IoE Number: 86207
Photographer: Mr Steve Beck
Date Photographed: 06 July 2006
Date listed: 11 November 1952
Date of last amendment: 11 November 1952
Grade II*

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BICTONBICTON PARKSY 08 NE3/6Bicton House, Devon School of-11.11.52Agriculture

BICTON BICTON PARK SY 08 NE 3/6 Bicton House, Devon School of - 11.11.52 Agriculture - II* Country mansion, now Devon County Council School of Agriculture. Circa 1800 for 1st Lord Rolle by J Wyatt; remodelled, improved and enlarged 1908-9 by Tapper. Red brick on limestone plinth; brick stacks and chimney shafts; slate roofs. The basic plan is of a courtyard enclosed by buildings on all sides with the main house projecting forward on the southern side. The main house block has a double depth plan with a main front and back room either side of a large entrance hall and rear stair. The main stair also projects a short distance to rear and there is a secondary staircase on the right (eastern) side. The front rooms are served by axial stacks either side of the entrance hall and the rear rooms by rear lateral stacks. From each end and set back from the rear of the main block are flanking wings which are connected to it by quadrant walls. The left (western) wing is mainly taken up by a large parlour whilst the right wing contains smaller rooms and another stair. To rear both wings are brought back to the rear of the main block by more quadrant walls. The 2 wings are connected at ground floor level by a projecting corridor across the back of the main block and passing underneath the main stair. A stair for the left wing is included in a block projecting into the courtyard. The left (western) side wing is occupied by stables and coach houses shielded off from the main courtyard by a tall brick wall. The right (eastern) side wing comprises 2 parallel wings and houses the main service rooms such as the kitchen and laundry. The courtyard is enclosed on the north side by more service rooms and includes a large central carriageway which projects into the courtyard and is surmounted by a large bellcote. Most of the rooms are heated. The main block is 3 storeys with cellars and all the other wings are 2 storeys. Before the alterations of 1908-9 the main block was only 2 storeys. It was refurbished in neo- Georgian style. The main block has a symmetrical 2:3:2 window front with plastered plat bands at each floor level , and the centre bay bowed forward. The ground floor has 15-pane (6/9) sashes, first floor tall 18-pane (9/9) sashes, and second floor 12-pane sashes. All have flat skewback gauged brick arches over. Central doorway contains fielded panel double doors an overlight with wrought iron work in front, panelled reveals and a relatively plain doorcase. Across the whole of the ground floor is a heptastyle portico with pairs of Tuscan columns, 2 limestone steps to flagged floor, moulded architrave and flat roof fenced by a balustrade with turned balusters. The deep eaves are carried on a series of large modillions carved as ascanthus leaves and the cornice is richly moulded. Above there is a balustraded parapet similar to that over the portico. The roof is hipped each end. Both end walls have similar 4- window fronts. The front of the left western wing has a 2:2:1:3 window front, the last 3 on the quadrant walls, and the centre bay of the rest recessed a little bit. Here too there is plastered plat band at first floor level and there is a dripcourse at first floor sill level. All the windows are 12-pane sashes. There is a moulded eaves cornice including a band of dentils with a balustrade of turned balusters like that on the main house. The front of the right eastern wing is a mirror copy. Both wing roofs are hipped each end and the quadrant sections are flat roofed. The sides and rear walls are less regular and plainer. The windows are mostly 12-pane sashes. Inside the courtyard the walls have a plain plat bands at first floor level and a dentil cornice made of projecting brick headers. Most of the windows here too are 12-pane sashes. The stair block projecting to rear of the main house contains 3 large round-headed windows containing early C20 iron frames and probably earlier stained glass representations of the Rolle Arms. In the centre of the north wing opposite the centre bay breaks forward into the courtyard. It contains a large segmental headed carriageway arch (and full height plank doors to the outside arch). The inner projection is flanked by broad stucco pilasters with a plain stucco entablature over and a projecting cornice with flat dentils along the soffit. There is a circular clockface over the carriageway. On top is a large granite bellcote in Neo-Classical style. It has square corner posts with incised panels and a key pattern frieze along the top. It has a low pedimented head with antefixa and is surmounted by a wrought iron weather vane. The sides are louvred. On the west side the former stables and coach house have their own courtyard behind a high brick wall. The gate piers have soffit-chamfered limestone caps with wrought iron lamp holders on top. Directly opposite in the west side wing are a pair of tall round- headed arches one containing a fanlight with radial glazing bars. Between them and little higher is a reset Beerstone plaque with the Rolle arms in bas relief with intials IR and the date 1668. Around the north-west corner is an external single storey block with mostly blind arcading facing north and west. Interior includes a great deal of original carpentry detail and moulded plaster cornices. Most of the chimneypieces however have been removed although one remains in the entrance hall. A good deal of the detail however is circa 1908-9 and in Neo- Georgian style and therefore sometimes difficult to distinguish from the original. The entrance hall has a rich moulded plaster cornice with fluted modillions alternating with rosettes. There is a 3-bay arcade to the stairs; the centre bay is occupied by a marble statue of Lord Rolle, signed E. B. Stephens, Sculpt, London. The imperial staircase is 2 then 1, flights. It has an open string, the steps are marble, mahogany handrail and cast iron balusters enriched with scrolls. The large top landing has 4 large fluted Ionic columns and an ornate moulded plaster ceiling. It is coved with swags over a frieze of acanthus and other leaves. Some of the floorboards around the edge have inlaid strips of a paler wood. The finest rooms in the house are those first floor front of the main block. They are very tall and lined with large field panelling in 2 heights divided by the dado. The panel-frames are carved with ornate scrolled foliage and the dado has Vitruvian scroll enrichment. All have ornate moulded plaster cornices. The secondary front block stair is geometric, open string with limestone steps, mahogany handrail and cast iron balusters. The western front wing has been done out in Queen Anne style. Here the stair case has a closed string, square newel posts with ball caps, moulded flat handrail and heavy turned balusters. The large ground floor room here has large field bolection-moulded panelling, a marble bolection chimneypiece, a moulded box cornice, and a moulded plaster ceiling featuring Tudor roses and other floral sprays. Bicton House, according to Hoskins, is said to have been built about 1730, the same time as the park and gardens were laid out. Nothing, however, seems to be that early. It is a grand house of circa 1800, extensively remodelled in Neo-Georgian style 1908-9. The early C20 work, it is generally agreed, was an improvement. There has been a house here since Sir Robert Denys built or rebuilt a mansion in the 1560's. It came with other large estates to the Rolles by marriage in the C17 at which time the family became the largest landowners in Devon. Bicton became one of their principal houses for several generations. Sources: Devon S.M.R. David Watkin, The Buildings of Britain. Regency. (1982) p. 138: W.G. Hoskins, Devon (1954) p 335; N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. South Devon. (1952) p51.

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