West Bower Manor House

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameWest Bower Manor House
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishDurleigh

Gatehouse originally part of a manor house, most of which has been demolished. The building was constructed during C15, altered during C17, rebuilt in C19 and restored in the late C20. It is Decorated-Perpendicular in style, rectangular on plan with a wing on the east side and a barn to the rear. Construction is of stone, freestone and render with pantile, slate and tile roofs and brick chimney stacks. (PastScape)

West Bower farmhouse incorporates the remains of a C15 manor house and is claimed as the birthplace of Jane Seymour, third wife to Henry VIII Foundations in the garden and yard indicate a building of considerable extent. On the S side are two polygonal turrets with decorated or perpendicular windows, flanking a single storey rubble entrance porch. The building has been damaged by subsidence (SAHS, 1920). The remains of the manor house are in poor repair and are used as a farm shed. The S facade is of considerable architectural interest but the interior has been greatly altered. There is no visible evidence that the house was once considerably bigger. (OS Record, 1978) Dovecot and a possible range of buildings located by geophysical survey (Jessop, 1995) Survey of the surviving fabric undertaken which identified 5 phases of activity and suggested that the earliest parts of the building were a medieval hall which was later converted to a gatehouse and then to a house (Jessop, 1996). Some of the mouldings can be paralleled at Dartington Hall, Devon where they date to 1330-80 (Jessop). (Somerset HER)

Richard Coker was licensed to have an oratory at West Bower for a year in 1339, and the manor house included a chapel of St. John the Baptist in 1462. West Bower Manor, now on the edge of Durleigh reservoir, comprises two sides of a courtyard house, the north side of which is a substantial gatehouse with added polygonal turrets flanking its southern fa├žade

Glass in the cusped and transomed turret windows bears the initials A and M which have been interpreted as those of Alexander and Margaret Hody. In 1540 the house was described as in two parts, one covered in slate, the other in lead. There was also a little court 'within the walls', a garden said to be outside the gate on the west, a small barton with another garden, an orchard, and a pond. Nearby was a former rabbit warren. The house was then let with 75 a. of land. In 1635 the site included a dovecot and the house was let with 150 a. of land. The dovecot, circular in plan with c. 730 nest holes, was made of cob, repaired with brick and stone; it was demolished in 1967. (VCH)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST265364
Latitude51.1222496032715
Longitude-3.05077004432678
Eastings326550
Northings136400
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Books

  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 677-9
  • Jessop, O.M., 1996, West Bower (Durham : University of Durham, Department of Archaeology Monograph Series 20) p. 49-51
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 55
  • Dunning, R.W. (ed), 1992, VCH Somerset Vol. 6 p. 210-1 online transcription
  • Pevsner, N., 1958, Buildings of England: South and west Somerset (London, Penguin) p. 159

Journals

  • Jessop, O.M., 1997, Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 140 p. 53-60
  • Jessop, O.M., 1996, 'West Bower' Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report Vol. 11 p. 48-49 online copy
  • 1977, Moated Sites Research Group report Vol. 4 p. 20
  • 1920, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 66 plvii-lx

Other

  • Jessop, O. 1996, 'West Bower Manor Survey Project - Interim Report'
  • Jessop, O.M., 1995, 'A Report of a aGeophysical Survey at West Bower Manor, Durleigh, Somerset' (unpublished archive report)
  • McDowell, R.W., 1957, NMRC No. 32472