Our Favourite South Devon Historical Houses

Devon is home to some of the most stunning historic houses and gardens in the UK. From the picturesque medieval manor house of Bradley Manor House to the unique 18th-century 16-sided house of A La Ronde, there’s something to please everyone’s taste. 

These magnificent properties with their quirky designs and personalities offer the perfect opportunity to explore the history and culture of the region while enjoying the beauty of its stunning surroundings.

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Explore These Culturally Important South Devon Houses

Ugbrooke Park

10 miles (Approximately 25 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Ugbrooke Park is a historic country house located in Chudleigh. The house dates back to the 17th century and has been home to the Clifford family since it was built. The current house was constructed in the early 18th century and was designed by architect Thomas Archer in the Baroque style.

The house is set in a rolling beautiful parkland setting, which includes a lake, woodland walks, and landscaped gardens. The gardens are open to the public during the summer months and feature a wide range of plants and flowers, including a walled garden and a rose garden.

Inside the house, visitors can explore a range of beautiful rooms, including the impressive Great Hall, which features a magnificent fireplace and a stunning ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill. Other highlights of the house include the Drawing Room, Dining Room, and Library, which are all filled with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative items.

Ugbrooke Park also has a fascinating history, with connections to many notable figures, including Sir Francis Drake and the composer George Frideric Handel. Visitors can learn about the house’s history through guided tours, which take place throughout the year.

Give Ugbrooke a chance and explore its beautiful gardens and parkland setting. You won’t be disappointed.

Bradley Manor House

15 miles (Approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Bradley Manor House is truly a hidden gem located in the countryside near Newton Abbot. The house dates back to the 14th century and has a fascinating history. Visitors can explore the medieval great hall, the Tudor kitchen, and the beautiful gardens which feature a tranquil pond and plenty of wildlife.

The manor house is a classic example of a medieval manor, with features such as a Great Hall, a Solar Room, and a chapel. It also has a beautiful Tudor-style entrance porch, which was added in the 16th century. The interior of the house is decorated with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative objects, which provide a fascinating insight into the history of the property.

One of the highlights of Bradley Manor House is its stunning gardens. The gardens are designed in the style of an Elizabethan knot garden, with a central fountain and a maze of hedges and paths. There is also a herb garden, a wildflower meadow, and a woodland walk, providing visitors with plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of this picture-perfect estate.

A La Ronde, Exmouth

15 miles (Approximately 35 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

A La Ronde is a quirky and fascinating 18th-century house located in Exmouth with a unique circular design. The house was built for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, on their return from a grand tour of Europe. The interior is adorned with intricately handcrafted decoration and there is a fantastic shell gallery which features shells from all around the world.

The interior of A La Ronde is just as unique as its exterior. The rooms are decorated with an impressive array of shells and other souvenirs collected by the Parminter cousins during their travels. The house also boasts a stunning gallery with a magnificent view of the Exe Estuary.

Over the years, A La Ronde has undergone several renovations and restorations, and it is now managed by the National Trust. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house to learn about its history and the lives of the Parminter cousins. There is also a tea room and a gift shop on site.

There are also lovely gardens to explore, and the views from the top of the house are simply breathtaking. Just be aware that the house is not open to the public during the winter months so plan your trip accordingly!

Cadhay House

20 miles (Approximately 40 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Cadhay House is a stunning Elizabethan historic country house – a hidden gem located just outside Ottery St. Mary. The house was built in the 16th century and is known for its distinctive Elizabethan architecture, which includes a large central courtyard, gabled roofs, and ornate chimneys.

The house was originally built by John Haydon in the early 16th century, but it was extensively remodelled in the Elizabethan era by Nicholas and Robert Haydon. The house remained in the Haydon family until the early 18th century when it passed to the Walrond family. The Walronds made several modifications to the house, including the addition of a new wing in the 19th century.

Today, Cadhay House is a Grade I listed building and is open to the public for tours and events. Visitors can explore the house’s impressive interior, which includes a Great Hall, a Long Gallery, and a Tudor kitchen. The house also contains a number of interesting features such as an early 17th-century plaster ceiling, a carved oak staircase, and a collection of historic portraits.

Killerton House

20 miles (Approximately 40 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Killerton House is an impressive estate located in Exeter. The house has a rich history and is now owned by the National Trust. Built in 1778 by Sir Thomas Acland, 7th Baronet, and designed by architect John Johnson, the house is constructed from local red sandstone with Bath stone dressings.

The three floors of the house are lavishly decorated, with elegant rooms such as the Drawing Room, Dining Room, and Library, all featuring beautiful furniture, paintings, and textiles. One of the highlights of the house is the stunning staircase hall, which features a cantilevered staircase and a magnificent domed ceiling.

Killerton House also has a fascinating collection of over 11,000 items, including costumes and textiles, furniture, ceramics, and silverware, many of which are displayed throughout the house. The costume collection is particularly noteworthy, with pieces dating from the 18th to the 20th century, providing a fascinating insight into the history of fashion.

Overall, Killerton House is a beautiful and historically significant property that offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Acland family and the history of the surrounding area. For more details on the gardens, see our previous article – Best Devon Gardens

Fursdon House

20 miles (Approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Fursdon House is a magnificent historic house located near the charming village of Cadbury. The house has been in the hands of the Fursdon family for more than 750 years and is steeped in history, with its roots stretching back to the 13th century.

The house is set in beautiful gardens and parkland, with stunning views over the rolling hills of Devon. The house itself is a fine example of Georgian architecture, with elegant proportions and classical details. The interior of the house is equally impressive, with a wealth of original features and furnishings that reflect the history and character of the building.

One of the most striking features of Fursdon House is the magnificent Great Hall, which dates back to the 16th century. The hall boasts an impressive oak hammer-beam roof, which is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings. The hall also features an enormous stone fireplace, which is said to be one of the largest in Devon.

Outside, the gardens and parkland at Fursdon House are a delight to explore. The gardens feature a wide variety of plants and flowers, as well as many interesting features such as a walled garden, a sunken garden, and a charming pond. The parkland is also home to some ancient trees, including some magnificent oak trees that are more than 500 years old.

Greenway House

25 miles (Approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Located just a short drive away from Torquay, Greenway House is a beautiful estate located in the former home of the famous author, Agatha Christie. And it’s not hard to see why she fell in love with the place.

Greenway House is set in a beautiful woodland setting overlooking the River Dart, and the house itself is decorated in the style of the 1950s, reflecting the period when Agatha Christie lived there. The house is filled with personal items belonging to Christie, including furniture, books, and artwork, giving visitors a fascinating insight into the life of this famous writer.

In addition to the house and gardens, there is a visitor centre, a shop, and a cafe on the property, offering visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy refreshments after exploring the estate. There are also events and activities throughout the year, including guided walks, talks, and workshops.

Knightshayes Court

35 miles (Approximately 55 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Knightshayes Court is a stunning if somewhat overbearing, Gothic Revival house located in Tiverton. The house was built in the 19th century for the Heathcoat-Amory family, who were wealthy industrialists and landowners in the area. The house was designed by the architect William Burges and is considered to be one of his finest works.

The house is built in a neo-Gothic style and features several ornate architectural details, including turrets, towers, and intricate stone carvings. The interior of the house is similarly grand, with elaborate woodwork, stained glass windows, and many valuable artworks and antique furnishings.

The estate also includes extensive gardens and parkland designed by the celebrated horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll, and features a variety of different areas, including formal gardens, a walled kitchen garden, and a woodland garden.

Today, Knightshayes Court is owned and managed by the National Trust and is open to the public for tours and visits. Visitors can explore the house, gardens, and parkland, and learn about the history of the Heathcoat-Amory family and their impact on the local area.

Saltram House

45 miles (Approximately one hour by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Saltram House is a magnificent Georgian mansion located near Plymouth. The house was built in the 18th century and features impressive architectural details, including elegant stonework, grand columns, and beautifully proportioned rooms. The interior of the house is decorated with a variety of artwork, furniture, and decorative objects, which provide visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who lived there.

Saltram House is also set in extensive parkland, which includes formal gardens, woodlands, and a deer park. The gardens feature a variety of plant species, including rare and exotic specimens, and visitors can enjoy a stroll along the many pathways and trails that wind through the grounds.

One of the most popular features of Saltram House is the Kitchen Garden, which has been restored to all its 18th-century glory. While outside the garden provides visitors with a unique insight into the methods and practices used to grow food in the past, and visitors can see a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs growing in the garden’s many plots.

Coombe Trenchard House and Garden

50 miles (approximately one hour by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Coombe Trenchard House and Garden is a stunning country estate located in the picturesque village of Lewtrenchard. The estate is renowned for its beautiful gardens and historic house, which have been carefully preserved and maintained over the years.

The house was originally built in 1906 for the wealthy Hamlyn family, who commissioned renowned architect Walter Sarel to design the building in the Arts and Crafts style. The house features a distinctive combination of Tudor, Gothic and Art Nouveau architectural elements, which create a unique and visually striking appearance. The interior of the house is equally impressive, with beautifully crafted woodwork, stained glass windows, and intricate plasterwork adorning the walls and ceilings.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of Coombe Trenchard House is the stunning gardens that surround the property. The gardens were designed by renowned horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll, who is considered to be one of the most influential garden designers of the early 20th century. The gardens feature a variety of formal and informal planting schemes, with colourful flower borders, a walled garden, and a sunken garden all on display for visitors to enjoy.

Arlington Court

65 miles (Approximately one hour 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Set in a magnificent parkland with beautiful gardens and woodlands, Arlington Court is a lovely 19th-century mansion located in Barnstaple. The house is a National Trust property and is open to the public, providing visitors with an insight into the lives of the aristocratic families who lived there.

The mansion was built in 1823 for Colonel John Chichester, who was a prominent figure in the local community. The property was later inherited by Rosalie Chichester, who was an avid collector of antiques and art. She spent much of her life gathering treasures from all over the world. The mansion is now home to an impressive collection of over 50,000 objects, including ceramics, furniture, paintings, and sculptures.

One of the highlights of Arlington Court is the Carriage Museum, which is home to an outstanding collection of horse-drawn carriages, ranging from elegant state carriages to simple farm carts. The museum also features an extensive collection of harnesses, riding equipment, and stable tools, giving visitors a glimpse into the daily life of the estate.

Arlington Court also has beautiful gardens and woodlands, which are perfect for a leisurely stroll. The grounds are home to a stunning collection of trees, including redwoods, cedars, and sequoias, some of which are over 200 years old. Visitors can explore the Woodland Walk, which takes them through the estate’s ancient woods, where they can see bluebells, primroses, and wildflowers in the spring.

The estate’s Victorian kitchen garden is also worth a visit, where visitors can see the restored glasshouses and enjoy the scent of the herbs and flowers grown there. The garden provides fresh produce for the estate’s café, which serves delicious homemade cakes, light lunches, and Devon cream teas.

Tapeley Park

65 miles (Approximately one hour 40 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Tapeley Park is a beautiful estate situated near the coastal town of Bideford. The estate has a rich history dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by the Bishop of Coutances. In the 18th century, the estate was purchased by the Christie family, who made significant additions to the property, including the construction of a grand Georgian mansion.

The Christie family remained the owners of Tapeley Park until 1945 when it was sold to the Devon County Council. The estate was then acquired by the current owner, Hector Christie, in 1988, who has since then undertaken extensive restoration work and transformed the property into a thriving community hub, complete with beautiful gardens, a farm, and a variety of sustainable projects.

Tapeley Park is perhaps best known for its stunning gardens, which cover over an impressive 35 acres and include a mix of formal gardens, woodland walks, and wildflower meadows. The gardens were initially laid out in the 19th century by Lady Rosamund Christie, who was a passionate gardener and horticulturist. Today, the gardens are maintained by a dedicated team of volunteers and showcase an impressive collection of exotic and rare plants, as well as a variety of native flora and fauna.

In addition to the gardens, Tapeley Park is also home to a thriving organic farm, which produces a range of organic produce, including vegetables, fruit, and herbs. The farm is managed using traditional, sustainable farming methods and is a popular destination for visitors looking to learn more about sustainable agriculture and the benefits of organic food production.

Tapeley Park is also home to a variety of sustainable projects, including an eco-village, which provides accommodation for visitors and volunteers, and a renewable energy system, which harnesses the power of the wind and the sun to generate clean electricity for the estate.

Chambercombe Manor

70 miles (Approximately one hour  50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Chambercombe Manor is a historic manor house located in Ilfracombe. The manor dates back to the 11th century and is believed to have been built by one of the sons of King Harold, who was famously defeated by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Over the centuries, the manor has been owned and occupied by many different families, each leaving their mark on the property. The manor was significantly altered in the 16th and 17th centuries when it was owned by the Champernowne family, who added a new wing and a grand staircase. The manor also played a role in the English Civil War, when it was used as a base by Royalist troops.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Chambercombe Manor is its reputation as a haunted house. The manor has been the subject of numerous paranormal investigations over the years, with many visitors reporting strange occurrences and sightings of ghostly apparitions. Some of the reported sightings include a lady in a grey dress, a man in a tricorn hat, and a figure believed to be the ghost of a former owner of the house.

The legend of the Grey Lady, in particular, is well-known in the area. According to the legend, a former occupant of the manor, a lady in a grey dress, was murdered by her own husband and her body was hidden somewhere in the house. Over the years, several people have reported seeing the ghostly figure of the Grey Lady wandering the halls of the manor.

In addition to its rich history and ghostly reputation, Chambercombe Manor is also known for its stunning gardens. The gardens feature a mix of formal and informal elements, with a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees, as well as a pond and a small waterfall. Visitors can stroll through the gardens and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, taking in the sights and scents of the various plants.

Today, Chambercombe Manor is open to the public as a museum and tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the various rooms of the manor, including the grand hall, the dining room, and the bedrooms, each of which is filled with antique furniture and other historic artefacts. Guided tours are available, and visitors can learn about the history of the manor and the families who lived there over the centuries.