Maps & Photos
Poltimore Community and Landscape Project
The Poltimore Community and Landscape Project was an exciting collaborative venture between the Poltimore House Trust and the University of Exeter, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Between 2010 and 2012 a team of archaeologists and historians from the University worked in partnership with volunteers, school children, students and the local community to explore the fascinating landscape heritage of this special place. The central objective of this work has been to transform access to the rich heritage of Poltimore House’s grounds and estate for a wide range of people in the region and beyond.
Download a leaflet about the Poltimore landscape here.
Poltimore House is a grand country residence and the centrepiece of one of Devon's great estates and is surrounded by parkland and gardens that have been re-designed over the centuries. A Grade II* listed building of Tudor origin, the house has enormous architectural importance and was occupied by the Bampfylde family until 1921. In the 20th century the house was used as a girls' school, then a wartime refuge for Dover College and later as a hospital that became part of the Exeter Hospitals Groups in 1963. These phases of ‘public’ use in the 20th century ensure that the house also has a prominent place in recent social history.
The Gardens and Landscape at Poltimore
Poltimore House was also the centrepiece of a ‘polite landscape’ – a grand country residence embedded within a designed setting intended for leisure, pleasure and visual impact. Five hectares of the house’s surroundings are now owned by the Poltimore House Trust and comprise a multi-phase landscape including ornamental canals and water features, designed avenues, an aviary/menagerie, rich historic garden architecture and a deer park. The project has investigated the evolution of Poltimore’s landscape though time, from prehistory to the present (but with an emphasis on the 16th to 20th centuries). The research has also highlighted the impact of changing tastes and aesthetic sensibilities on the design of a tract of Devon's landscape.
The Project aimed to help to open up Poltimore’s gardens and wider estate as a community heritage resource by developing new materials to enhance on-site presentation of the house and its landscape. An important legacy of the Project is the installation of a series of display boards around the house and its gardens. The design of these display materials has involved volunteers and school children and the story of the Poltimore landscape that they relate is rich and multi-layered, including the house's re-use as a school and a hospital, and also highlights little-known aspects of the estate's history, including its Cold War heritage.
Girls playing cricket in Poltimore Park when the house was used as a girls' school