Dovery Manor Museum
At the historic village of Porlock, in the Exmoor National Park, UK
Like most old buildings, Dovery Manor has developed over time, as both fashions and the needs of individual owners have changed. However, since building techniques have not changed greatly and there are no relevant documents surviving, it is difficult to work out a precise history for the building. What follows therefore is our current ‘best guess’.
Although the walls of the building are constructed of locally quarried stone, laid in roughly horizontal courses and infilled with rubble bonded with a sandy mortar mix, the corners of the building however are defined by more finely dressed blocks of stone (or quoins). Both the inner and outer faces of the wall would have been covered with plaster though leaving the quoin stones standing proud as strong decorative features of the building. The doorways and windows have been surrounded by finely carved mouldings and finer stone was also reserved for the fireplaces and other decorative features. Local timber has been used for doors, floors, screens, stairs, and to construct the roof, which for at least part of its life, was covered in fine slates.
The first building on the site probably lay where the present snooker room and solar are located. Its entrance, now blocked, together with a window, can be seen within the lower museum room, adjacent to the later medieval doorway. The building may have initially have been built as a single storey open hall but at some time a stair was added, on the south side, giving access to the first floor. You can see the quoin stones of this early building in the upper room of the museum, adjacent to the garderobe (toilet) whilst if you look behind the small wooden door, just to the right of the modern doorway into the solar, you will the see the remains of another window.
The two-story extension, which houses the museum, was probably added to the original building at the end of the 15th century. A new entrance was provided and all the openings between the two buildings sealed. Although the building is small in scale, its fine entrance and impressive carved stone window and fireplace are strong reminders of the importance of this building.
A further extension, through which you now enter into the museum, was added in the early 19th century.
That the building has survived in such good condition is largely due to work undertaken by Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, who restored the building for use as a reading room and billiard and snooker club in the late 19th century.
Quoin stones visible in the upper room, adjacent the Garderobe
The fireplace in the Great Hall
Roof timbers of the 'Solar'
Doverhay, Porlock, Somerset, TA24 8QB. United Kingdom