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Shute Barton Manor

30 April 2010 5,423 views No Comment

Shute Barton Manor

Shute Gatehouse

(Photos can be enlarged by left clicking on them once and then left click again for full screen)

Adjacent to St. Michael’s Church is the ancient manor house of the Parish of Shute, built in 1380 by Sir William Bonneville, a Norman from Bonneville, in Beauce, near Chartres.

It remained in his family for five generations. Lord William Bonneville (The Builder’s grandson) was beheaded and his two sons killed in the Wars of the Roses, and so his grand daughter Cecily inherited it. She married Thomas Grey who became the first Marquess of Dorset. During the 15th century the building was extended by the Grey family who remained at Shute Barton until 1554, when the entire family fell from favour following their failed attempt to install Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England. The ‘Queen for Nine Days’ was beheaded in 1554, as was her father, by Edward VI. The ’grey’ lady is said to walk in the area where part of the house used to stand: it is said that she was actually beheaded there.

The house passed to one of Queen Mary’s advisers, Sir William Petre,

who sold it to a successful lawyer, William Pole in 1560: he built the Gatehouse; he and his family extended and ornamented the house.

Interestingly, all three families to own it were related, the Poles being descended from the brother of Sir William, the builder. Each family contributed equally to its building. In 1730 the Rev. Carolus, a younger brother of Sir William Pole, Master of Queen Anne’s Household (his statue is in the Church, nearby), who owned Shute, inherited the Antony Estate in Cornwall from a Carew kinsman, and so added Carew to his surname.

In 1870, Sir John William Pole pulled down two thirds of the house to provide foundations for a smart new house, a quarter of a mile up the drive, to impress his friend, the Prince Regent. It cost £50,000 a huge sum in those days (about £3M plus today), and the Prince Regent stayed there for one night!

The original house, in fact, was in none too good shape by then. The Poles had been Royalists; their main home Colcombe Castle, outside Colyton, was totally destroyed, and Shute, which was not a fortified house, was ‘distressed’, that is it was damaged by the Roundheads sufficiently thoroughly to make it a misery to live in, but not so badly that the owner could claim exemption from taxes – a practice they had learnt from Henry VIII when he dissolved the Monastries!

Only two pieces of the old building now remain: the kitchen block and a part adjacent to the manor hall. The changes made to the Shute Barton Manor have not disguised the ancient origins of the building. This can be particularly seen in the large hall at the top (where the kitchen staff used to sleep) with its exposed roof timbers and two garderobes and late Gothic windows. The Entrance Hall has the largest Tudor fireplace in England which is 22 feet wide, six feet deep and takes up the entire end wall of the room.

Shute Barton is one of the most important non-fortified manor houses of the Middle Ages still in existence. It is now run by the National Trust: it was given to them in 1959 by Sir John Carew Pole, whose plaque is on the wall of the courtyard . He stipulated that it was to be kept as a dwelling house, and that the Pole family had right of first refusal on the lease whenever it came available. As a result, in 1988, Christopher and Gillian Pole-Carew came to live at Shute, the first Poles to live there since 1780, and of their own direct line since 1730.

My thanks to John Cochrane for allowing me to use some photos and documents.

Shute Gatehouse:

(from a painting by Pat Lambert which currently hangs in the new Umborne hall)

Shute Gatehouse c 1841:

Antique prints of Axminster at Ash Rare Books of London:

The Landmark Trust:

Special thanks to Christopher Pole-Carew for his input into this article. and to him and his wife Gill for allowing us to reproduce the following photos:

Shute Barton c 1950:

Shute Barton in the snow – by Jenny Ford:

What Shute Barton looked like c 1770:

This photo was taken in the early 20th C – from the book “A guide to Seaton & District”  by E.J. Burnham  c1930

(left click on items once and then left click again for full page )





The very large kitchen fireplace being restored:

Garden improvements summer 1990 to July 1991:

The Great Hall August 1992:

Shute Barton is now available for rent from the National Trust


This is the sort of quality you can expect:

Photos courtesy of the National Trust.

Holiday Cottage guests can have the benefit of a guided tour of Shute Barton by a volunteer guide during their stay (please enquire when booking).

Shute Barton is available all year round except for public open weekends:-
14 and 15 May 2011
18 and 19 June 2011
17 and 18 Sept 2011
15 and 16 Oct 2011

Rick Wood