Shute Gatehouse

Near Axminster, Devon

Overview

This Elizabethan gatehouse looks like the front of a toy castle, complete with corner turrets and crenelations. Inside, you live under a ceiling of exceptional Jacobean plasterwork.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Single, 1 Double, 1 Bunk beds

Sleeps
3 +2
4 nights from
£301 equivalent to £15.05 per person, per night

A remarkable, recycled Jacobean ceiling

This Landmark guards the entrance to what is left of a great medieval and Tudor house known as Shute Barton. The gatehouse was probably built by William Pole when he bought the Shute estate in about 1560. When we first saw the Gatehouse it needed a lot of structural work and its flues and fireplaces were filled with sticks by jackdaws living in the neighbouring elm trees. While we were repairing the gatehouse, North Devon District Council offered us a remarkable Jacobean plaster ceiling from a house in Barnstaple demolished in the 1930s. The Council had been storing it in pieces ever since but needed to find a home for it. It was close in date to much of the gatehouse building and fitted the upper room perfectly. So, although we would not usually do such a thing, we decided to recycle it and it now looks magnificent; with pomegranates, roses and thistles to symbolise newly united dynasties.

Absorb the views and spread out on the green

We lease the gatehouse from the National Trust, who also owns the main house, now much reduced in size (and also let for holidays by the National Trust, so only occasionally open to the public). We recently restored the ground in front of the Gatehouse to its original level and laid it out as a green. Shute Gatehouse stands out as you approach it from the village and guests get a fine view of the old deerpark, particularly from the kitchen sink. One of the corner turrets holds bunks for aspiring young knights or princesses.

‘Every time we drove through the arch we felt like kings and queens.’

‘A four and a half hour journey was more than worth it when the gatehouse came into view. What an amazing sight: our own “mini castle”.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Shute Gatehouse stands in front of the grand house of Shute Barton on the edge of the Axe Valley.  From here you can explore the beautiful Blackdown Hills or head towards the coast.

The Gatehouse stands guard to the amazing Shute Barton Manor. It is open only a handful of days a year, when you can discover a magnificent house containing what is believed to be England's largest fireplace.

Forde Abbey welcomes visitors all year round. There is plenty here to keep children entertained, with fun trails and walks around the gardens of this lovely estate. 

The Jurassic Coast was England's first natural World Heritage Site and in easy driving distance from Shute Gatehouse. Enjoy spectacular walks and secluded beach coves along this outstanding coastline. 

To truly get a taste for life in the south west, visit Sheppy's Cider Farm where you can learn about the family's 300 year history of producing cider and purchase some of their local products. 

Bicton Park is 40 minutes in the car from Shute Gatehouse. Be sure to look out for live music events during the summer months, as well as plenty of activities for children and beautiful gardens to explore. 

Please take a look at our Pinterest Map for more great things to see and do during your stay at Shute Gatehouse. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Shute Gatehouse
Near Axminster, Devon
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a driveway from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Axminster – 3 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There are two parking spaces just behind the building.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and a solid fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of fuel, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.



  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a shower over the bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep, spiral and narrow.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There are open grounds.
  • Are any rooms outside the main accommodation?

    Yes, you will need to go outside to access the turret bedroom.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes, the turret bedroom containing bunk beds in unheated and not recommended for winter use.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

The need for a new building type

Gatehouses have an ancestry going back to the Middle Ages. The spur for their development came with the change in the 12th and 13th centuries from castles with a single impregnable keep to the more familiar type, which had its strength concentrated in an outer curtain wall. The weakest point in the defences was the entrance which therefore needed the strongest fortification; and so there appeared a new type of building - the gatehouse.

Most domestic gatehouses date from the late 14th and 15th centuries. When life became more peaceful from the late 15th century gatehouses gradually came to be regarded as status symbols to impress rather than as a means of protection as at Shute.

Shute was originally a medieval house, much enlarged and remodelled around 1500 by Cicely Bonville who married Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset. In 1554 the Grey’s house was forfeited to the Crown, eventually being sold to William Pole of Colyton who made it his home. It was probably his son, Sir William Pole, a writer and Antiquary who built the gatehouse after succeeding in 1587. With its battlements and possibly genuine medieval gargoyles, the style is consciously antiquarian. During the restoration by the Landmark Trust evidence was discovered that the window on the top floor had once formed a nearly continuous band with the windows in the turrets, in keeping with the ‘more glass than wall’ fashion of the time.

With windows of this kind allowing a ‘fair prospect’ it is likely that the upper room was used as a belvedere or outlook, probably to watch the hunt taking place in the old deer park on the hill opposite. On its other side the gatehouse would have opened into a forecourt or courtyard and there is evidence that the gatehouse was at least roughly aligned on the porch in the main front of the old house. The existing flanking walls probably incorporate earlier and lower walls that would have enclosed this forecourt. The entrance to the rooms over the gate arch would have been by outside steps.

After the building activity at Shute in the 15th and 16th centuries little more was done for two hundred years and it is likely that for most of the 18th century the house saw only the minimum of maintenance. With Shute by this time probably dilapidated, John William Pole, who had inherited Shute as a three-year old orphan, set about building a new Shute Houseon an entirely new site in the light and restrained style of Robert Adam. He preserved the old gatehouse as an interesting entrance to his newly landscaped park with the drive passing through it and on up to his modern mansion on the hill. Unfortunately the greater part of the old Bonville house blocked the intended route and so this was demolished, leaving only what might have been the medieval high end as adapted in the Tudor period. Round the gatehouse itself the ground was made to run up to parapet height on refashioned screen walls.

What is not known is whether the gatehouse was lived in as well as the side lodges. Records come only with the first full census return of 1841, which lists two households under ‘Lodge’ and ‘Lodge Wing’. This, and later census returns show the buildings to be occupied by a variety of families, probably employed on the farm or estate, involved in various trades such as agricultural labourers, carpenters, gardeners and a dairyman. By 1871, one occupier was Job Adams, a bailiff or farm manager, either for the Shute estate or the tenant of Shute Barton.

The final stages

During the 1870’s the two side lodges were taken down and replaced by the existing pavilions, which echo the Elizabethan architecture of the gatehouse itself. A carpenter’s shop which had been on the site also disappeared in the general tidying up. In 1926 the Shute estate was inherited by Sir John Carew-Pole. He lived at Antony in Cornwall and so not not needed as a home Shute House became a girls’ school in 1933. Shute Barton continued as a tenant farm until, after being empty for some time, Sir John repaired it and gave it to the National Trust in 1959.

The last people to live in the gatehouse were the Newbys. Mr Newby was a caretaker to the school, and his wife Mary, the daughter of a former agent for the Shute estate, continued to live on in the gatehouse after her husband’s death, without running water or electricity, until about 1958 when ill-health forced her to move out. It remained empty from then until 1981, with the arrival of the first Landmark clients.

Restoration

The gatehouse was decaying rapidly

When The Landmark Trust first saw Shute gatehouse in 1978, it was decaying rapidly. The Trustees agreed to a lease from the National Trust and appointed Paul Pearn, responsible for the restoration of several Landmarks as the architect. The builders were J. Trivett & Co. whose foreman Philip Ford went on to work directly for Landmark for a number of years.

Much of the work consisted of redoing what had been not very well done in the 19th century. The badly constructed roof was replaced with a more sensible one reusing the existing slates. Problems of damp were largely caused by cement render on the back and side walls. Once this was hacked off, the underlying stonework was found to be worse than expected. The parapet and north east wall next to the stair were found to be in danger of collapse, necessitating a concrete ring beam to hold it all together.

The parapet itself was rebuilt using where necessary the original Beer limestone from the same quarry a few miles away. The back and side walls were given a new coat of lime-based render so allowing the walls to breathe. On the front the local flint-like stone, Chert, was lightly cleaned and new Beer stone let in to the window surrounds and mullions. The walls of the gatehouse and the screen walls were repointed with lime mortar and the crenellations patched with new stone. The upper pavilion, being in better condition and nearer to the front door, was chosen as an extra bedroom.

The interior had suffered badly from the damp and most of the joinery was beyond repair. Sadly this included the 17th century overmantel of a fireplace that had been inserted in the lower room where the bathroom now is. Several of the joists of the upper floor had rottedand these had to be jacked up and supported with steel angle irons.

The plan was to reverse the 19th century layout and have the upper room, with its original fireplace and better views, as a single room again, with the lower floor containing the bedrooms. New joinery - floorboards, skirtings, doors and the stairs - was needed throughout and old well-seasoned pine was used, the stair being a near copy of the original. The doors were based on a design that was common around 1600. The lead in the casement windows needed renewing, but where possible the old glass was re-used.

There has been one addition - the fish ceiling. It dates from about 1620, and came from No. 7 Cross Street, Barnstaple, a house demolished in the 1930’s. North Devon District Council had kept it in store but had finally come to the conclusion that they must dispose of it for lack of space. When they heard of the restoration of Shute Gatehouse, however, they very generously offered it to us. It arrived at Shute in pieces which had to be assembled with great care, the missing areas filled in, and a new pendant formed. All this was done by Trivett’s craftsmen.

Undergrowth was cleared from the building and as some very fine elms in front of the gatehouse had died of Dutch elm disease, they were cut down and the ground was levelled and laid out as a green.