Membland Hall

Designation:
All on Devon Gazetteer
Type:
  • Parkland
  • Walled Kitchen Garden
Parish:
Newton and Noss
Local Authority:
South Hams
OS Grid Ref:
SX 568 481
Map no.:
Landranger 202
Description:

Membland Hall was destroyed by fire in the 1920's, but the kitchen garden walls and various buildings remain as an impressive reminder of the self-sufficiency of the large Victorian estate.  The estate overlooks the river Yealm.  In 1806 Polwhele wrote that the occupant, Peter Pering, had ‘entirely destroyed the old house which had been used as a farm-house ever since the new one had been built and was at a considerable expence in new modelling the grounds about it’.  Membland was acquired c. 1877 by the banker Edward Baring, later Lord Revelstoke.  He transformed the C18 house, commissioning from George Devey large additions including a tower for a hydraulic organ.  But the Barings suffered a financial crisis inthe 1890s, and the estate was sold in 1916. The sale particulars of 1912 noted that the pleasure grounds and gardens were of ’diversified character’. The features included terraced lawns, timbered park, rustic summer-houses, bowling green, cricket ground with ornamental pavilion, two walled fruit and vegetable gardens and a range of glass houses. Many of the impressive range of Victorian outbuildings survive as does a summer-house and the kitchen garden walls.  By 1939 the house was derelict; it was demolished after the war, and replaced by a much smaller dwelling in 1966-8.  Around it are the remains of the Victorian outbuildings.  To the east, a tennis-court enclosure and behind it is a derelict cricket pavilion.  To the west, the stables which were attractively converted to houses and flats after the Second World War, have an irregular U-shaped layout, C 18; the shaped gables at the ends are probably a Devey improvement.  The small Dutch-gabled building to the west housed the electricity supply.  Opposite, is the smaller group of hunting stables and a forge.  Further west, down the road, Membland Villa is the former gasworks, and Lone Pine, on the windy brow of the hill, was the laundry, with a clock tower.  Around the estate are many other lodges, farm buildings, and cot­tages, mostly in a distinctively spiky romantic style of continental derivation, with deep bracketed eaves and picturesque roof-lines. In front of Warren Cottage is a polygonal glazed summer house (where Edward VII was entertained by Lord Revelstoke). The Bull and Bear Lodge, in a similar style to the other estate buildings, gets its name from its gatepiers with supporters of the Bulteel and Baring families (appropriately coinciding with the stockmarket terms bull and bear); it stands at the boundary between their two estates. Devey was perhaps responsible for these minor buildings, although there is no firm evidence. The details are rather different from his more usual Wealden-inspired cottage style. 

References

Cherry & Pevsner: The Buildings of England – Devon, 1989: 566
T Gray: The Garden History of Devon, 1995: 153

50.31585, -4.0167599