Margells

Branscombe, Devon

Overview

Situated in the pretty village of Branscombe, this deceptively simple cottage may once have been the parlour wing of a larger house, which explains its fine wall paintings. Heavily moulded oak beams and solid oak treads to the staircase are part of a well preserved 16th-century interior. Branscombe is a lovely Devon village, just over the hill from the sea.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • ShowerShower
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Single, 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
5
4 nights from
£417 equivalent to £20.85 per person, per night

16th century architecture wonderfully preserved

Originally a hall-house, the frame is a very early construction with the core of the building probably dating to the 15th century. Its fine coffered ceilings are typical of the period it was built in and whilst there is a similar example at the Landmark - No. 2 Hawker's Cottage, the one here is superior. Since the 16th century there have been little alterations, as such it serves as a fantastic example of its contemporary architecture. The restoration process sought to retain its integrity and changed as little as possible. In fact, much of the restorative work found older features that had been covered up down the years: we discovered a wall painting in the bedroom above the siting room and uncovered oak panels laid between the beams on the first floor.  

Beautiful south Devon coastline

Sleeping up to 5 people, visitors can unwind from exploring the south Devon coast in front of the open fireplace or enjoy the pleasant rural surroundings. The Branscombe Vale Brewery offers a great selection of real ales and cider whilst the nearby Norman Church of St Winifred supposedly dates back to 995. Those with a slightly less nervous disposition may wish to visit the annual Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels festival in October every year, but be warned it's not for the faint hearted.

‘Go and watch hang-gliders on the cliffs straight out from the house.’

‘Once more unto the beach, dear friends!’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Margells stands on the end of a row of old and pleasant cottages in a village that stretches down a picturesque valley towards the sea.

Take a long walk  and enjoy the beautiful scenery with a stop off for lunch at Branscombe Old Bakery

The Church of St Winifred is particulary significant for it's Norman tower, and is thought to date back to circa 995!

Branscombe Vale Brewery has handcrafted real ales and cider on offer. 

The annual Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels every October is well worth a visit, but be warned it's not for the faint hearted! The town holds interest at other times of the year; birthplace of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and home to Exeter Cathedral's "mini replica" parish church. 

Budleigh Salterton is a friendly and relaxed seaside town just 30 minutes drive from Branscombe. Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival every September has talks, readings, workshops and conversations with prize-winning and critically acclaimed authors. 

For more information on things to see and do during your stay at Margells, please see our Pinterest Page.

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.

Margells
Branscombe, Devon
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    From the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Honiton – 7 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is a parking space for one or two cars reserved for Margells, 50 yards down the hill (to the east), on the opposite side of the road.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire in the sitting room.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, 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 and a dishwasher.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a free-standing shower unit. 
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

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

    There is a small enclosed garden.

    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.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • 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

Originally a hall-house

Margells was originally a hall-house, open to the roof and probably built in the late 15th century. The frame is a very early construction, the cruck coming at first floor level. There would have been a sleeping gallery at first floor level reached by a ladder type stair, probably from the sitting room side using the rounded door, which now goes into the painted bedroom.

About a hundred years later the present first floor was put in, making two big bedrooms. The fine coffered ceilings are typical of this period and there is a similar, though not such a good one in another Landmark - No. 2 Hawker’s Cottages at Coombe. The spiral stair would have been added at this time. It is made of solid blocks of chestnut, except for the top two treads which are oak, as is all the rest of the wood used in the house. At about this time the two fireplaces were added, with the chimneys built on to the outside of the house.

The quality of such a small cottage has led some people to suggest that Margells was the cross-wing of a larger house. The doorway, which is clearly visible in the wall of the bedroom above the kitchen certainly suggests this. The door from the kitchen into the bathroom was at one time bigger than it is now and that it was an important door is shown by the decoration in red-ish paint that can still be seen on the beam. The village of Branscombe contains a remarkable number of good houses of 16th and 17th century date and as the church records show, it housed a number of minor gentry. Margells almost certainly belonged to one of these families.

Since the 16th century Margells has been altered very little. It looks as though at one time the wall onto the road had to be rebuilt. This would explain why the timber frame at that end is different from the rest; it does not come down to the first floor and the wall painting has disappeared from that end of the bedroom. It was probably when this was being done that the big fireplace in the sitting room was made deeper.

There were a few superficial additions and alterations. Outside a small porch was added and a galvanised iron lavatory. Inside, a staircase was put into what is now the kitchen. In the sitting room the big fireplace was partially bricked up and ceilings were put into the bedrooms. They have now been taken out, but you can see indentations where the rafters were laid on top of the partition between the middle bedroom and the passage. The old floors on the first floor were boarded over in softwood and the east window in the bedroom above the kitchen was blocked up.

Restoration

Rapidly deteriorating

Margells came to the attention of the County Planning Department in 1973, when its rapidly deteriorating condition gave cause for concern. The intrinsic architectural quality of the building, its extremely pleasant rural surroundings and the building’s eminent suitability for holiday accommodation combined to persuade the Landmark Trust to acquire it, which we duly did in July 1975.

As ever, Landmark aimed to keep alterations to the minimum. Our architect, Paul Hearn, quickly arranged for a temporary cover for the roof, before it was rethatched by Mr Turbitt of Sidmouth using imported Austrian reed as there was no local reed available at the time. A major part of the work was concerned with masonry repairs, including stabilisation of the walls by underpinning. The timber screens and the roof trusses were repaired and as all the old door openings were still in the screens, it was possible to re-make the doors to the old shape. The fireplaces were opened up and the external porch and lavatory removed. Rising damp was treated by inserting an electro-osmotic damp-proof course. The window in the east elevation was re-instated.

The existing ground floor was of lime-ash construction and in poor condition. Despite extensive research by the architect it was found to be impractical to repair and so a local stone, Blue Lias, was used as paving slabs, retaining the lime-ash finish as an edging. On the first floor, the floors beneath the new boarding were found to be oak, laid in panels between the beams - typical of good quality 16th century work.

During the restoration, a wall painting was uncovered in the bedroom above the sitting room. It had been painted in a lime and skimmed milk medium with dry colour directly onto the lime and sand plaster of the wall. Over the centuries, this had been covered with a number of layers of lime wash and wallpaper. The painting is typical of the late 16th century and consists of a foliated pattern in several colours, with a chevron patterned border and frieze. The restoration and stabilisation of the painting was carefully carried out by Mrs. Krystana Barakan.

The contractor for the works was J. Trivett & Co. Ltd of Cownhayne, Cloyton. The work was completed in the autumn of 1976 and Margells opened as a Landmark in November the same year.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.