You are here

Devon's Top 10 Historic Houses

The Best Stately Homes & Manor Houses

A la Ronde

A La Ronde House - Exeter A La Ronde

A visit to what is possibly the most bizarre historic house in Devon is an unforgettable experience. This 16-sided house was built by two intrepid female cousins in 1769 and houses their vast collection of mementos from their 10-year Grand European Tour. 

The house interior is built around a central room with 8 doors.  The clever design allows the house occupants to enjoy sunlight through the diamond-shaped windows whatever the time of day. The tastefully decorated rooms are stuffed with shells, feathers and all kinds of fascinating objects and artefacts. The gardens offer fine views over the Exe estuary.

Arlington Court

Arlington Court - North Devon Arlington Court
Peter Kazmierczak

Stand outside this fine example of a country house and admire the Neo-Classical design, with its fine Greek Doric porch supported by fluted columns.  Ring the doorbell and you will be welcomed in by the friendly guides.  There are no roped-off areas, and visitors feel more like guests as they are left free to explore.  The rooms are beautifully furnished and contain antiques and memorabilia collected over the centuries by the Chichester family, who have owned the estate since the 14th century.  

Arlington Court is also home to the National Trust Carriage museum, which currently houses the splendid State Coach used at the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.


Bradley - Newton Abbot Bradley
Derek Voller

Nestling in the wooded valley of the River Lemon, the small medieval manor house of Bradley still feels like a family home.  Some parts of the house date as far back as the 13th century. Today the house is filled with a fine collection of furniture spanning the centuries from Tudor times until the 20th century Arts & Crafts period.  Some well- preserved Tudor décor can be found here.  Note the Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth I displayed in the Great Hall. There are no toilets or café, but facilities can be found in nearby Newton Abbot. 


Saltram house - Devon Saltram
Stefan Schweihofer

Saltram is an excellent example of an early Georgian house set in rolling parklands. Former home of the wealthy Parker family, the original Tudor home was re-modelled in Neo-Classical style by Robert Adam in 1743.  The rooms are exquisitely furnished with antiques.  Paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, a friend of the Parker family, and Angelica Kauffman adorn the walls.  The house, which is reputedly haunted, was used as a location for the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson.


Cadhay Cadhay
Derek Harper

Every corner of this splendid Elizabethan manor house feels steeped in history.  The house was built in 1550 around the rectangular Court of Sovereigns, an open-air courtyard featuring four carvings of Tudor monarchs.  There is a Long Gallery, a magnificent Roof Chamber and more.

The house can be rented as luxury self-catering accommodation and is also used as a wedding venue.  Members of the public can discover the house's history by taking guided tours on Friday afternoons from May to the end of September.

Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo Castle Drogo
Eugene Birchall

It looks like a medieval castle, but looks can be deceptive.  Castle Drogo was actually built in the early 20th century for entrepreneur Julius Drewe, founder of the Home & Colonial Stores who believed that his ancestors once lived on the site. Renowned architect Edwin Lutyens designed the house and well-stocked terraced gardens, which offer fine views over Dartmoor. 

The house is currently undergoing restoration but parts of the property remain open.

Coleton Fishacre

Coleton Fishacre House Coleton Fishacre House

Experience one of the best examples of minimalist Art Deco chic as you explore this beautifully designed Arts & Crafts inspired house.  The house was built in 1925 as the country home of Rupert D'Oyly Carte, owner of the Savoy Hotel, whose father brought together light operatic duo Gilbert and Sullivan.  The delightful gardens with views over the sea contain an abundant collection of rare and tropical plants and are well worth exploring at any time of the year. 

Hartland Abbey

Hartland Abbey Hartland Abbey

Originally a 12th century monastery, the house was granted by Henry VIII to his Sergeant of Wine, whose descendants still live here today. Little of the original Abbey remains.  The present house was re-built in the Gothic style in the 18th century.  This is a genuine family home and feels very different from your average National Trust property. After exploring the delightful house, visitors can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the walled gardens and woodland pathways with trails leading down to a private beach.  

Some scenes from the acclaimed TV series The Night Manager were filmed here.

Knightshayes Court

Knightshayes House - Tiverton, Devon Knightshayes House
Richard Croft

This 19th century house is full of surprises.  It stands as a fine example of the Gothic Revivalist genre. Architect Willian Burges was sacked before the building works were completed, but not before letting his imagination run wild, incorporating gargoyles and grotesques into the richly-decorated interior. The garden, with its Victorian kitchen-gardens and many species of rare plants is quite simply one of the best of its kind in the country.

Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle through arch Powderham Castle

Home of the Earl and Countess of Devon, Powderham Castle is a delight just waiting to be discovered. The original castle was built in the 14th century and was re-modelled in Gothic splendour during Victorian times.  The house has a rich and varied history, spanning the Wars of the Roses, the upheavals of the Tudor period and was laid to siege by Roundhead troops in the Civil War.

The guided tours of the house are highly recommended and there are plenty of entertainments and activities for young visitors.