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East Quantoxhead Court House

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of East Quantoxhead.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST13634368
Latitude 51.18583° Longitude -3.23700°

East Quantoxhead Court House has been described as a probable Pele Tower.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Manor House. Medieval tower, wall adjacent in South East corner and West range, front block 1614 and 1624, addition at rear 1659. Blue lias random rubble, slate roof behind parapet with moulded cornice, stone stacks. Plan: around courtyard, hall entered from 2-storey porch with screens passage, parlour to South, North East drawing room wing, stairwell behind kitchen on North front, tower and service area to West. 2-storeys, 1:1:1:1:1 bays, recessed unlit bay left, 2-storey porch and projecting wing right, stone ovolo moulded mullioned and transomed windows, some with original leading, under hood moulds, all 4-light except for 3-light in porch with coats of arms in recessed panel below. Moulded, arched entrance outer bay left and to porch, segmental headed inner door, moulded jambs and stops, C17 studded door. Left return, South front overlooking Church of St Mary. Remains of medieval building, crenellated East end with merlons pierced with quatrefoil decoration and shields continued as wooden parapet, evidence of refenestration below. Medieval 4-storey crenellated tower at rear. Interior: notable collection of 7 plasterwork lower mantels mostly with biblical scenes, some with supporters and strapwork decoration one dated 1614, another 1629; plasterwork friezes; a number of moulded 4 centred arch doorways, C17 doors; Jacobean dog leg stair with pyramidal turned balusters. (VCH Somerset Vol 5; photograph in NMR; Country Life, February 3, 1912). (Somerset HER)

The manor house, known as Court House from the 19th century, stands on a knoll between the village and the sea, with the church and farm buildings on its southern side. In 1273 the house was adjoined by two stone-roofed houses, one opposite the hall, and by farm buildings, a gatehouse, gardens, and fishponds. A great chamber is referred to in 1403–4, a tile-covered 'loigge' in 1421–2, and a buttery garden in 1478–9. In 1408–9 a carpenter made a 'stresschold' for the oriel door and a new 'enterclose' for the oriel. The plan of this evidently substantial house cannot now be recognized in the present building, but its strategic position, overlooking the Bristol Channel, might suggest that the form of the early building was determined as much by the requirements of defence as by domestic conventions.
The surviving medieval portions are an embattled four-storeyed tower and a wall adjacent to it at the south-east corner, and the short west range. The contemporary intervening buildings were removed or altered beyond recognition in a major rebuilding of the early 17th century. This rebuilding appears to have taken place in two stages. The first provided a new south range with a northern return at its west end and a newel staircase at the east end of its north side. The stair turret is in the angle with the later hall range, which implies that the hall replaces an older building on its site. In the south range the principal room on the ground floor was the kitchen; on the first floor two rooms have plaster friezes and decorated overmantels, one of which is dated 1614. The second phase of rebuilding must have been separated from the first by only a few years and provided the new or reconstructed range which now forms the north and east sides of the house and a well staircase in the angle between them. The east range contains the hall, the screens passage which is entered through a two-storeyed porch, and the study which is adjacent to the old kitchen (now the estate office) and may formerly have been a service room. The upper end of the hall extends to the north wall of the house and the drawing room is in a wing which projects to the east. The decoration of the rooms in the hall and drawing room ranges is of the earlier 17th century, and one fireplace is dated 1629. Both stages of rebuilding were thus undertaken by George Luttrell (d. 1629), perhaps finished after his death by his widow; one room behind the kitchen was built by Francis Luttrell in 1689. (VCH 1985)

Said to be in a defensive position, although the site is also one that makes the house prominent in the landscape; that is the location could have been as much chosen for its visual status as for any defensive quality. The embattled tower, which does not seem to be clearly dated, would have been built by a member of a cadet branch of the Luttrell family the senior branch of which held nearby Dunster Castle suggesting status was also a factor in the choice of architectural style for this house. However, it is close to the coast and, therefore, vulnerable to raids from the pirates operating in the Bristol Channel so defence may well also have been a consideration.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:53

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