Medieval manor that pre-dates Domesday Book hits market for £4.5m

Medieval manor that pre-dates Domesday Book hits market for £4.5m

January 3, 2019

Your place in history! Medieval five-bed stone manor that pre-dates the Domesday Book and has changed hands just TWICE in 800 years hits market for £4.5m

  • The five bedroom Grade I listed Morwell House near Tavistock in Devon is on the market for £4.5m 
  • It has parts that pre-date the Domesday Book and has only changed hands twice in the last 800 years
  • The property has 243 acres of wood, pasture and farmland and has over 10,000 sq ft of accommodation 
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An historic five bedroom Grade I listed home that dates back almost 1,000 years has gone on the market for £4.5m.

Grade I listed Morwell House, near Tavistock in Devon, has parts that pre-date the Domesday Book and has only changed hands twice in the last 800 years.

The impressive medieval stone manor, cottage and a range of outbuildings, along with 243 acres of woods, pasture and farmland are now up for sale with estate agents Strutt & Parker.

The estate of Morwell Barton was the country seat of the Abbot of Tavistock, so he could enjoy fishing on the River Tamar.


Grade I listed Morwell House, near Tavistock in Devon, has parts that pre-date the Domesday Book. It has only changed hands twice in the last 800 years


It has over 10,000 sq ft of accommodation with a hall, kitchen/breakfast room (pictured) two dining rooms, sitting room, drawing room, office, five bedrooms, three bathrooms and an integral three-bedroom flat for staff.


The previous owners, who lived there from 1969 to 2006, carried out a major renovation and the current owners have maintained the historic home for the last 12 years. Pictured: The sitting room with an impressive fireplace on one wall 

But following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the estate was granted to Lord John Russell.

The noble Russell family were among the richest handful of aristocratic landowning families in the country and had connections with Sir Francis Drake, who was named after his godfather Francis Russell.

Drake’s family leased land at Crowndale, which is near this property, from the Russell family. Crowndale was the birthplace of Francis Drake.

Lord John Russell chose to live at Crowndale Manor and the family let out the Morwell Barton estate for several centuries.


The house has some lovely period features, including carved granite door surrounds, mullioned windows and impressive fireplaces. Pictured: One of the two dining rooms which sees modern furniture among period features


The estate of Morwell Barton was the country seat of the Abbot of Tavistock, so he could enjoy fishing on the River Tamar. Pictured is a room showing one of the fireplaces that have retained all of its previous features

The farm buildings were built in the mid-1800s but it was later neglected before it was sold off from the estate in the mid 20th century.

The previous owners, who lived there from 1969 to 2006, carried out a major renovation and the current owners have maintained the historic home for the last 12 years.

The house has some lovely period features, including carved granite door surrounds, mullioned windows and impressive fireplaces.


The main drive leads past the modern and traditional farm buildings which have their own separate entrances. It then turns through a gateway to a gravelled parking area (pictured) to the north of the house.


The house, cottage and traditional buildings are arranged around a central quadrangle, which makes an exciting and impressive approach to the main house. Pictured is an archway leading to a central courtyard

The Dissolution of the Monasteries 

The Act of Supremacy, established in 1534, was an important English act of Parliament that recognised Henry VIII as the ‘Supreme Head of the Church of England.’

Shortly after, Henry dissolved and disbanded monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland. 

By the 1530s, at a time of increasing tensions between the Pope in Rome and King Henry VIII, monasteries were seen as corrupt and out of touch with the common people of England and Wales. 

After detaching England, Wales and Ireland from the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, Henry’s next step was to disband the monasteries.

He did this partly to reform the church but also to strip the monasteries of their huge wealth.

A set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 saw the king appropriate their income, dispose of their assets, and provide for their former personnel and functions.

It has over 10,000 sq ft of accommodation with a hall, kitchen/breakfast room, two dining rooms, sitting room, drawing room, office, five bedrooms, three bathrooms and an integral three-bedroom flat for staff.

There is also garages and outbuildings totalling another 22,000 sq ft, including an impressive party barn, which all together are arranged around a central courtyard.

The gardens are extensive and include lawns, ha-has, a vegetable garden, summerhouse, a former swimming pool that is now used a fish pond.

The properties and 243 acres can be sold as a whole, or split into lots with arable fields that can be sold separately.

Mark McAndrew from Strutt & Parker said: ‘Sometimes Grade I listed properties can quite a scary thing to take on, but this one isn’t.

‘It’s quite a manageable property, historic and amazing but internally it works like a normal house.

‘Some, because of their age, don’t work in modern-day life but with this you get all the benefits of the history and architectural features and it’s a comfortable family home with good sized rooms and windows.

‘As an agent this is a dream property in terms of its setting, it sits almost exactly in the middle of its land, so you’re master of all you survey.

‘But if you don’t want to farm there are local farmers who will farm the land for you.

‘Sometimes Grade I listed properties you have to prepared for a project and working with English Heritage, but this you don’t, you can just move straight in.

‘It’s got something about it, it’s just lovely.’  


The central courtyard. The properties and 243 acres can be sold as a whole, or split into lots with arable fields that can be sold separately.


A plan showing the location of all the buildings. There is also garages and outbuildings totalling another 22,000 sq ft, including an impressive party barn, which all together are arranged around a central courtyard

What is the Domesday Book? William the Conqueror’s ‘Great Survey’ of England and Wales to work out how much he was owed in tax


The Domesday Book, pictured, is housed at the National Archives in Kew, London and is a record of the ‘Great Survey’ completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror 

The book is a manuscript record of the ‘Great Survey’ of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror.

The survey’s main purpose was to determine what taxes had been owed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor.

The assessors’ reckoning of a man’s holdings and their values, as recorded in Domesday Book, could not be appealed.

The name Domesday comes from Old English for Doomsday. The manuscript earned the fearful title because its decisions were unalterable – drawing comparisons with the Last Judgement.

The book, written in Medieval Latin, is held at The National Archives at Kew in London. 

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