Updated: Jan 2, 2020
Quite a week at Moreton. Not only did the house get bigger, it also got older!
Starting with the bigger – a really exciting step forward as our architects produced a set of drawings from their measured survey. We now have proper floor plans and elevations to scribble on. And with all the rooms numbered, it’s immediately apparent there are far more than the 70 rooms listed on the original sales material. 145 to be precise!!! One day we’ll have to hoover all of those. Yikes. The plans show the house is delightfully wonky too. The Victorian additions to the Georgian house are so skew-whiff the builders must have been at the wine cellars.
As for older, the surveys really got going this week. Wildlife and ecology survey began in earnest (turns out we have a bat cave, with a bat hibernating in one of the cellars, so we’ll have to avoid any work in that area for now). But it was the heritage survey that got EVERYONE, like half of Bideford, up on site, hunting columns and steps. An old column outside the first floor ballroom, and disappearing into a shower room above had them all rather excited, as it seems to be much older than the rest of Moreton House. Most of the history we’ve read say that the original house on the site was called Daddon, and dates from around 1718, modified or rebuilt in 1765, and modified again to its current form and renamed Moreton in something like 1821. But the heritage gang think there might be as many as 3 hidden columns built into the walls, as remnants of the old Daddon House, and perhaps much much older than the 1700s maybe back to early 1600s. Watch this space (sounds expensive).
The time team then went off hunting in the neighbouring woods, where the rather overgrown old walled gardens and ponds that used to belong to Moreton lie. They were looking for the lethal steps. The story goes that Lewis William Buck, who rebuilt Moreton House in 1821 on the site of the fire damaged Daddon House after it was damaged by fire, died (in his dotage) after falling down the original stone stairs. They were replaced with the current wooden stairs in 1913 by his grandson Sir Hugh Nicholas Granville Stucley, and the stone steps incorporated into the gardens. The time team think they have found them….let’s just hope they don’t expect us to reinstall them…..