What follows is a little dry and for those who really want to know the ins and outs of longland, as the keystone report and listed building reports assert.
the podcast will be covering everything below and more; with more personal stories, local colour and on the ground discoveries.
the below research is currently under scrutiny as personal letters are revealing a story slightly different than the house might first put forward.
(1955 Listing Report) Late medieval, remodelled late C16 or early C17; later additions at rear. Solid, roughcast walls, probably of stone or cob. Slated roof with clay ridge-tiles. 2 large projecting chimneystacks of painted ashlar (probably granite) in front wall, heating former hall and parlour; both have offsets, thatch weatherings and tapered tops, the right-hand stack having in addition a large pent- roofed projection at its foot, probably an oven. A third stack on right-hand gable, this also having thatch-weatherings and a tapered top. 3-room and through-passage plan; rather grand for a Devon farmhouse in having a heated parlour in C16 or C17. 2 storeys. 4-window front, the second bay from right having a 2-storeyed gabled entrance-porch. This is of stone in the ground storey, with seats at either side; approached by 3 wide granite steps, the floor of porch having 4 old weathered paving-stones. Entrance to porch has an ovolo-moulded wood frame with cranked head. Inner doorway, now narrowed slightly, retains its old, wide, chamfered wood frame with a flat head. Upper storey of porch has exposed, close-studded timber-framing; C20 oriel window in front. Remaining windows all 3-light wood casements of 8 or 10 panes per light, except for the right-hand ground-storey window, which is a 2-light wood casement with 6 panes per light. Interior: through-passage has stud-and-panel screen at either side. Left-hand side has chamfered studs with diagonal-cut stops; studs plain on reverse side, to hall. Right-hand side also has chamfered studs, but the stops are badly worn; screen includes chamfered door-frame with shouldered head. Plain, early floor-joists above. Hall to left of passage, has chamfered beams with step-stops, set considerably higher than top of screen. Fireplace with hollow-moulded stone jambs; ovolo-moulded wood lintel with raised run-out stops. No partition now with parlour, this having been moved to a converted outbuilding (see below). Parlour has chamfered beams without visible stops; fireplace with C20 granite lintel. Roof- space not inspected, but second-storey room over hall has closed trusses at either end. To right of house a former outbuilding (included in the listing), now converted to holiday accommodation. In left-hand gable this has a C17 chamfered wood door frame with a flat head. In second storey is the partition said to have been moved from the main house; this is of oak, 3 panels high with deep ovolo mouldings, and shows signs of having been re-arranged, possibly before it was moved to this building.
(Early 2000's Keystone Report) Like many farmhouses in Devon Longlands has late medieval origins with high quality 16th century and 17th century improvement. It is a building with a long and complex structural history including a major late 19th century phase which included a thorough refurbishment of the old house with a new extension to rear. The older walls are plastered, but comprise either cob or local stone rubble.
The house is now double depth but it is the front (south) range which comprises the historic core of the house. Originally this had a three-room and cross passage plan. The cross passage is east of centre with the front doorway sheltered behind a gabled two-storey porch. The small room off the passage at the east end of the house was originally an unheated service room but it was provided with a fireplace in a gable end stack as part of the late 19th century refurbishment. The upper (west) and lower (east) sides of the passage refer to their status although often, as here, the lower end is also physically lower. There were formerly two rooms to west of the passage but the ground floor level partition between the two was removed (and re-set in Longlands Barn – see below) in the late 20th century. The room off the passage was the hall, the largest room in the house and heated by a fireplace in a lateral stack projecting outside the front wall. The west end room was the inner room or parlour. It is also heated by a fireplace in a second lateral stack projecting from the front wall.
At the rear of the house the east end section was built as a kitchen crosswing in the 17th century. It originally projected north at right angles to the main house and into the hillslope, and was served by a massive fireplace in a lateral stack projecting outside the eastern side wall. The rest of the rear was added in the late 19th century, apparently as service rooms. This includes the present main stair, which rises from the space immediately beyond the passage rear doorway up the rear of the old house.
The house is two storeys throughout.
The south front has a three-window front interrupted by the two projecting chimneystacks and the front porch (Plates 1 & 2). All the windows are timber casements with glazing bars and date from the late 19th century with some later replacements. The first floor ones are larger than might be expected in such an old farmhouse, but the openings were evidently enlarged when the eaves were raised for the slate roof in the late 19th century. The two chimneystacks are both covered with many layers of whitewash but are evidently built of ashlar stone, presumably granite. Both have weathered offsets and tall shafts. The right (southern) one serves the hall; an oven housing projects in front of it. The main block roof is gable-ended with blind end walls.
The front doorway is sheltered behind a 17th century two-storey, gabled porch up four steps from the ground level (Plate 3). The side walls of the porch itself are stone rubble with a full-width oak outer arch on the front. This has a cranked arch head and broad ovolo-moulded surround and sunken spandrels (Plate 4). The inside of the porch has benches along each side. At the back there is a chamfered flat arch supporting the upper porch and framing the front doorway. This too probably also dates from the 17th century since it has a flat head. This is chamfered but the outer face of the jambs are hidden by timbers applied in the 20th century to narrow the doorway. It now contains a 20th century oak door. The upper level of the porch is close-studded oak framing with the front-facing window now containing a 20th century oriel.
The 17th century rear block was massively rebuilt in the late 19th century and little of it can be seen from the outside. On the east side the major part of the wall is taken up by the massive, but truncated, kitchen chimneystack, which occupies the space between the house and the former farmbuilding, Longlands Barn (Plate 7). The wall between the stack and the main house contains a doorway which could well be a 17th century opening but now contains a 20th century door (Plate 5). There is a small window to left of the door and another to the first floor above, both containing late 19th century or 20th century replacement timber casements with glazing bars.
The west wall was, so far as can be seen, largely demolished and rebuilt as an internal partition in the late 19th century when the rest of the rear block was rebuilt. The north gable-end wall was also rebuilt in stone rubble to accommodate the late 19th century low-pitch slate roof. It contains another timber casement with glazing bars of that date, to each level, both under two segmental arches of red brick (Plate 6). The late 19th century rear extension carries on the same style.
Phase 1. A mid-16th century open hall house
The main block preserves the extensive remains of an open hall house with a three-room and cross passage plan. This includes the upper part of the framed crosswall between the hall and inner room sections, the hall fireplace and its chimneystack, the full height partition at the lower end of the hall (including the oak screen to the passage) the screen between the cross passage and service end room, and the first floor joists over the passage and service room.
The hall, two bays long, was the largest room in the house, the only heated room, and was originally open from the ground level to the roof. The large fireplace is in the front wall. It has hollow-chamfered monolithic granite jambs and an oak lintel under a relieving arch of stone blocks (Plate 10). In fact the oak lintel is a replacement from the 17th century modernisation (see below). There is a cloam oven in the back of the fireplace. These earthenware ovens usually date from the 17th,18th and 19th centuries so this one is not an original feature. There is no sign that it replaced an earlier oven.
At the lower end an oak stud-and-panel screen (alternatively called a plank-and-muntin screen) forms the lower part of the full-height crosswall, and divides the hall from the passage. It is plain on the hall side (Plate 11) but neatly finished on its show side, facing into the passage (Plate 8). Here the studs are chamfered down to straight cut stops, and, at the top, there are masons’ mitres in the underside of the headbeam returning the chamfers across the top of the panels. The headbeam also has a double chamfered head, thickening the headbeam to take the first floor joists. The central doorway has since been adapted and enlarged. The head has been cut away to accommodate an 18th century plank-and-ledge door (still retaining its original wrought-iron catch)
Above the screen the wall continues as a large-framed crosswall to a tiebeam truss at the top. The large panels within the sturdy oak frame are probably filled with wattle-and-dauband are now clad with lath and plaster (visible in the roofspace).
At the other (western) end of the hall there is now no ground floor partition between the hall and inner room/parlour sections. Before the late 20th century there was a partition, which is the 17th century panelled screen now re-set in Longlands Barn. The upper part of the crosswall still survives above and it is a 16th century oak-framed partition with a tiebeam truss at the top and filled with wattle-and-daub, similar to the upper part of the crosswall at the other end of the hall (Plate 12).
The inner room end now comprises a heated parlour with chamber above. The fireplace and chimneystack are most likely part of the 17th century modernisation. The plain chamfered crossbeam supporting the first floor is undatable and therefore it is not certain whether the 16th century inner room was the same size as it is now or even whether it was two storeys. However it is assumed to be 16th century.
The cross passage lies between the opposing front and rear doorways and is lined each side by oak screens (Plate 8). The upper screen to the hall has been described above. The lower screen, to the former service room, is another oak stud-and-panel screen but it is not the same as the hall one. It has chamfered studs down to worn (possibly runout) stops on the passage side whilst the headbeam has a continuous chamfer. It is plain on the back. The original doorway in the centre is a shoulder-headed arch (Plate 9). There is a second doorway at the rear end, but it ha been blocked in a way that it matches the form of the screen. It has narrow jambs and evidently gave access to a stair, theevidence for which shows in a trimmer interrupting the joists in the service end room behind. The head is also chamfered to rear.
The front doorway to the passage is described above. It was probably replaced in the 17th century. However, the rear doorway is probably a 16th century original (Plate 8). It is an oak frame with a Tudor arch head and chamfered surround. A scoop has been hacked into the eastern jamb. Similar scoops are cut into the jambs of numerous doorways in Devon farms and it seems this was done in order to get cider barrels through.
The service room is the smallest room in the old house. It has a relatively low ceiling made up of hefty 16th century oak joists running axially from a chamfered half-beam, against the east end wall, through the head of the passage screen, over the passage to engage the head of the hall screen. The trimmer for the stair is described above.
The fireplace in the east end was introduced in the 19th century. It has brick jambs of that date but it was given its rustic timber lintel in the late 20th century.
At first floor level only the framed crosswalls each end of the hall show from the 16th century phase. Both these closed trusses were affected by the construction of the lower pitch 19th century roof. Each apex was demolished above collar level (Plate 12).
Dating and Discussion
Taking together the evidence of the layout with the detail and finish of the features in its construction, the building can be dated to the middle of the 16th century on stylistic grounds. That said, the passage screen actually does appear earlier, because of its shoulder-headed doorway. Such doorways are most commonly found in late medieval houses, that is to say, dating from the 15th century. The only problem here is the presence of the stair door at the rear end, since it is unlikely that the lower end would have been floored at that time. However, the narrow doorjambs suggest that the doorway is secondary, being created by the removal of one panel and cutting back the studs to get the width. A great number of Devon farmhouses have late medieval origins and it seems likely that Longlands did too. It was evidently massively rebuilt in the mid 16th century incorporating the screen from an earlier house which was adapted to accommodate a second doorway to a stair.
Late medieval houses were heated by open hearth fires and the smoke blackened the roof timbers. Here however the roof timbers are clean and the hall has a fireplace enclosed in a chimneystack. It is this feature which puts the building well into the 16th century. It is highly unlikely to have included a heated parlour at this time. However the basic layout centred on the open hall, which derives from medieval prototypes. The hall was then the focus of domestic life. It was the only heated room, open to the roof, and it was here that the household, usually a form of extended family, lived, cooked, dined and some of them may have slept. The full height crosswall at the upper (west) end suggests a two-storey section beyond, an inner room providing a store and buttery (with cider barrels) whilst the head of the family and his immediate family enjoyed the privacy of the upper chamber, sometimes called the solar. It is highly unlikely that the upper end was not two storeys when the lower end definitely was. The east-end service room was probably workshop associated with processing the farm produce and the first floor provided extra chamber accommodation.
The house includes an unusual feature for Devon. In most early houses the cross passage lies within the hall, and at the lower end, open to the roof and simply divided from the hall proper by a low partition or screen. Here however it is beyond the hall in the storeyed lower end, which is known as an undershot cross passage.
Phase 2. A major 17th century modernisation
In the early or mid 17th century the house was thoroughly refurbished bringing it up to the prevailing expectations of privacy and comfort. The open hall was modernised and floored over making the house two storeys throughout, the inner room was converted to a parlour with a fireplace in a new chimneystack built into the front wall. The two-storey porch was added in front of the front door, and a kitchen range was built onto the back of the service range.
The hall was improved in a number of ways. The most dramatic was inserting the first floor structure. The new ceiling is somewhat higher than the older one over the passage and service room, giving the ground floor a generous height. The new first floor is carried on an oak crossbeam which is chamfered with step stops.
The remains of the missing screen between the hall and parlour is used as a first floor partition in Longlands Barn (Plate 123). It was removed there in the late 20th century. It is a high quality oak-panelled screen 2.3m high and 4.05m long. It is three panels high and seven panels long and contains a cranked arch-headed doorway at the south end. Apart from the doorway which has an ovolo-moulded surround on the west side, the rails and muntins are ovolo-moulded on both sides. Thus each panel has an ovolo-moulded surround on three sides with a chamfered dust ledge along the bottom. The screen is neatly constructed using true mitres to the junctions of the mouldings and the mortise-and-tenon joints are fixed by pairs of oak pins, rather than pegs. It has lost its original sill and shows evidence that some elements have been re-arranged. One would expect the moulded side of the doorway to face into the hall, and therefore the doorway between hall and parlour would have been at the north end.
The fireplace was brought up to date with a replacement oak lintel with an ovolo-moulded soffit and stepped runout stops.
There is an alcove in the rear wall with a curving back. If this was simply a small cupboard alcove it might date back to the 17th century. However, it looks suspiciously like a cream oven. These have small fireplaces and were used to heat the milk to separate the cream in the traditional way of making clotted cream. Most cream ovens seem to date from the 19th century.
There is also a tall and narrow opening in the rear wall, towards the west end. It has a cambered oak head. Its date is uncertain but it may have been a doorway to the 17th century stair. They are commonly found in blocks or turrets projecting behind the upper end of the hall so that they could provide independent access to the chambers over the hall and parlour from the first floor landing.
The parlour fireplace has been much rebuilt since the 17th century. Whilst its eastern jamb and the back are granite the western jamb is 19th century brick and the lintel is a rough-finished block of quarried granite (unlikely to date from before the 19th century).
The first floor level of the main block maintains the early layout since it is divided by the 16th century framed crosswalls. However it was massively rebuilt in the late 19th century and nothing obviously survives from the 17th century except for the cranked arch-headed oak doorframe from the chamber over the hall into the small room over the porch.
The porch was addded in front of the front doorway with a close-studded oak-framed first floor room (Plate 3). It is described in more detail above.
The kitchen was new built in the 17th century, but, as described above, was massively rebuilt in the late 19th century. All that remains is the first floor structure, carried on a chamfered crossbeam with runout stops and the enormous fireplace in the east wall (Plate 14). Lined with neat granite ashlar it has a high timber lintel which is chamfered with step stops. There is a blocked opening in the back of the fireplace which looks more like a small window than the doorway to an oven.
Dating and Discussion
The house was transformed by this high quality (and expensive) early or mid 17th century refurbishment. All the exposed structural and decorative detail is consistent with such a date by comparison with other 17th century houses. The use of step stops may usually be considered earlier, and scroll stops more typical of the 17th century. However there are many examples of the use of step stops persisting well into the 17th century such as the joists of the hall ceiling at Preston Farm in Drewsteignton and Elford Town Farm in Buckland Monachorum.
The two-storey porch is a status symbol which, by the 17th century, was filtering down from the gentry mansions to the houses of the superior farmers. This is a particularly good and well-preserved example. They are not common in Devon, but by no means rare. Good examples built of stone survive at Whelmstone Barton in Colebrooke (mid Devon) and at Yeo in Meavy (west Dartmoor). However, in terms of timber-framed porches the Longlands one is much closer in style to the early 17th century one from Langford Court, near Cullompton, than the 1680s one at Chaffcombe Manor in Down St Mary. It is interesting to note that porches are the only vernacular buildings with external timber framing in rural Devon.
The quality of the 17th century modernisation is exemplified by the panelled screen. This writer is surprised that he cannot recall seeing anything quite like it in rural Devon, but other examples must exist. Similar moulded panelling lines the side passage of the 17th century merchants house, 18 North Street in Exeter.
Purpose-built kitchens are essentially a 17th century development. Before that cooking was usually carried out in the hall. With the rear kitchen the hall was refurbished and probably used as a dining room.
Phase 3. The late 19th century refurbishment
This was an extensive building phase which affected just about every part of the house. It appears to have taken place after 1887, the date of the first edition OS map (see Fig. 1) Many of the features associated with it have been mentioned in passing above. In the main block walls were raised and a new roof built with a much lower pitch than the original. This is carried on two pine A-frame trusses in which the joints are augmented by iron straps. It has a single set of back purlins and at each apex there is a plate yoke carrying a ridgeboard. Even though the walls were raised the new roof required the removal of the apexes of the 16th century trusses. It was presumably at this time that slate replaced thatch as the roof cover. As described above the 17th century kitchen range was extensively rebuilt at this time, and its roof structure was also replaced in the same style as the front range. It seems likely, but cannot be proven, that the kitchen chimneystack was reduced in the 20th century rather than the late 19th century.
More space was provided in a new rear block to east of the 17th century kitchen. This included a new stair rising up the rear of the main range from a lobby behind the old cross passage.