The Old Hall

Croscombe, Somerset

Overview

Built in around 1420, Croscombe Old Hall has a particularly fine, and large, arch-braced open roof. From here enjoy views over the hills and an open garden. The Old Hall is an excellent location for exploring Somerset.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher

Beds 1 Double, 1 Triple room

Sleeps
5
3 nights
£362 equivalent to £24.13 per person, per night

The great hall of a vanished manor house

Originally part of a manor house built by Sir William Palton in about 1420, this building was, for 250 years, a Baptist chapel. It lies just north of the handsome parish church and looks into a small tranquil enclosure, part garden and part graveyard. 

The living rooms are on the ground floor with bedrooms on the first floor. The great hall with its impressive roof is a sociable space for living and dining. The stoking of the large stove provides much entertainment, and some strenuous exercise.

During restoration, we found the great blocked arch of an oriel chamber, which once linked the hall to a vanished wing to the east. Beside it, a rare medieval light-bracket appeared, decorated with the arms of Sir William and his wife.

We turned the service end of the hall into bedrooms and kitchen, simple rooms of wood and stone. The surrounding village is quiet and is served by good pubs.

‘It was exactly as we hoped for; tasteful and rare.’

‘Years spent as an archaeologist working on ruins cannot equal the pleasure of living in the real thing.’

From the logbook

Floor Plans

Map & local info

The Old Hall lies just north of a handsome parish church and looks into a small tranquil enclosure. It enjoys views over the hills of Somerset and an open garden.

The Old Hall is an excellent location for exploring Somerset. Days out around for all the family to enjoy include the East Somerset Railway and Wookey Hole CavesSomerset Rural Life Museum is in Glastonbury, offering a fascinating insight into how people lived in this area of the south west. 

Wells Cathedral has been described as perhaps the mose beautiful cathedral in the country, and is well worth a visit. Historical highlights not to miss include the Jesse stain glass window, the ancient (and still working) clock, and the wells in the Bishop's Palace Garden. 

At Glastonbury Abbey you can experience one of the oldest and most fascinating abbeys in England, visit the supposed burial site of the legendary King Arthur and enjoy walks around over 30 acres of grounds. 

Look out for The Vintage Bazaar held at Frome, where you can find a market selling vintage clothes and jewellery, antiques and much more. 

The Hauser and Wirth Gallery is a world-class exhibition space, and has free admission. Don't miss their lovely gardens, farm shop and bar and grill. 

Babington House is home to the amazing Cowshed Spa where you can relax, or head to the Orangery for seasonal food. 

To find out more about things to do during your stay at Parish House, 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.

The Old Hall
Croscombe, Somerset
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 off the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Castle Cary – 9 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes there are two parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and a solid fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is 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. 
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

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

    Yes, the stairs are relatively steep and spiral.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an 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.
  • 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 ancient manor house of Croscombe

The Old Hall is all that survives of the ancient manor house of Croscombe, abandoned by its owners by the 16th century, and adapted to serve as a Baptist chapel in about 1720. If it had survived in its original form to this day, added to no doubt but not substantially altered, it would have been one of Somerset’s finest medieval houses, comparable with Clevedon or Coker Court.

Even as it stands now, with the elaborate timber structure of its roof, its large traceried windows, and the array of doors leading off the former screens passage, it ranks as a hall of great importance, and certainly of great beauty.

There is no trace of the early medieval house, belonging to the Cotele family. But in the late 14th century the last Cotele left his property to a cousin, Robert Palton. Robert died in 1400 and was succeeded by his brother William, then aged 21. It was William who rebuilt the manor house in about 1420, at the same time that he and other Croscombe families were restoring the parish church. The Palton coat of arms appears in both buildings, and on the tower of St. Cuthbert’s, Wells.

William had no children, and on his death in 1449 his property passed to his second wife, Anne, who was a member of the Courtenay family, of Powderham in Devon. She soon married again, this time to another Devonian, a Densell of Weare Gifford. The manor of Croscombe was to remain as an outlying property of Devon landowners until c.1730. Anne’s daughter by her second marriage, Elizabeth Densell, married Martin Fortescue of Filleigh, North Devon, and her Somerset property passed to that family. The Fortescues continued as absentee landlords for the following two centuries, but in the first half of the 18th century Hugh Fortescue, Earl Clinton, sold the greater part of his land there, mostly to existing tenants.

It is unlikely that the Fortescues made any use of the Croscombe manor house. They may have visited it occasionally, leaving it in the mean time in the charge of a steward. From surviving manorial accounts it seems that even by 1450 it was already partly let to tenants. Inevitably it decayed, and a wing at the eastern end (now lost) was rebuilt, on a smaller scale. The western end became a separate cottage. The hall itself survived, however, and was in use as a chapel by 1723; this possibly before the date at which, according to the Somerset historian Phelps, it was bought 'by a respectable inhabitant of the place and converted into a chapel for the use of a congregation of Baptists'. A memorial table to him, or more probably his son, is still in the hall.

The Baptists made several minor alterations to the chapel and to the cottage throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, all carefully noted down in the Church Books. In 1824 a tank was installed for baptisms, saving a cold plunge in the River Sheppey; new pews and a rostrum were fitted in 1866, a new ceiling in 1882, and repairs to the roof, the windows, and 'colouring' were regularly carried out. For the most part the Old Hall could not have had better occupants, nursing the building into the present century. By 1973 the congregation had shrunk to only four or five, and the building was in danger of collapse at the eastern end. The cottage had been empty since 1947. It was in the nick of time that the Old Hall was discovered by the architect John Schofield, who shored up the gable himself, and persuaded the Baptists to sell. It was bought the Landmark Trust in 1975.

Architectural description of the Old Hall

Landmarkers enter first today into the current kitchen. Originally, the main entrance would have led into the screens passage of the main hall. Today we enter the hall from the south, although originally the main entrance was through the grander doorway on the north, with the second doorway directly opposite, in the standard medieval pattern. Between these entrance doorways and the main body of the hall there stood a timber screen on a moulded stone base, two sections of which survive loose in the building. On the other side of the passage, in the end wall of the hall, are doors leading to the western wing. From the first door a stair led up to a chamber on the first floor. The other two doors led into service rooms off the hall, probably a buttery and a pantry.

For the moment, however, you are in the hall, and over your head is the sumptuous oak roof, divided into four bays, with five arch-braced trusses. Their smooth curves are echoed in the three tiers of windbraces on the side slopes, and by the unusual and elegant pear-shape formed by the struts in the apex, above the collar beam. Light floods in through three tall windows with carved stone heads, but in the south wall, at the High End, instead of a fourth window is a large blocked arch. This was not in fact another window, but the entrance to an oriel chamber. Today we think of an oriel as projecting from an upper floor, but in medieval times the term was applied to any small addition, and chiefly to a bay at the High End of a hall which could serve as a small private chamber for the lord. Sometimes this chamber also provided access into the main rooms beyond the hall, and this was the case at Croscombe. In the garden wall outside there is still the doorway that led from the oriel chamber into what was once a cross-wing; and in the outer face of the east wall can be seen the fireplace that heated the solar or upper room in this wing.

How was the hall itself heated? The answer seems to be by a fireplace in the end wall, on the dais. In about 1600 the solar wing was demolished and a new addition built in its place, with a new fireplace. The hall fireplace was dismantled and turned round to face the other way, and some fragments of moulded stone used to provide the lintel. This later fireplace is still there on the outside wall. The stove that heats the hall now is Gurney’s Patent, and came from Romsey Abbey in 1976.

Light for the hall at night was provided by torches, and a remarkable survival is the bracket that held these, in the south wall. This bracket also helps us historically, since it bears the arms of the Palton family: Robert’s with those of his wife Elizabeth Botreaux, and William’s with those of his first wife, heiress to the Wellington family – thus providing evidence that William was the builder, after his marriage in about 1410.

From the hall you pass into the room that is now the kitchen. This was once divided, and both rooms were unheated; the existing fireplace is 19th century. The window over the sink is medieval, as are the ceiling joists, except for one section where it can be seen that new timber has been inserted, where the stairs to the upper floor were. Beyond the kitchen you are in a 19th century addition, into which a bathroom and staircase were fitted in 1976. At the top of the staircase, however, is a medieval doorway leading back into the chamber above the kitchen. This doorway connected, apparently via a staircase turret, with a wing which is thought to have extended southwards, to form one side of a courtyard on the site of the present garden. This wing may have contained the kitchens. The chamber itself has a medieval fireplace and window, but the blocked windows looking into the hall are much later, dating from the time when the manor house was in decline, and divided into several dwellings.

Restoration

In a state of collapse

When the Landmark Trust took on the Old Hall in 1975 it was in an exceedingly shaky structural condition. Prompt action by John Schofield had prevented the collapse of the east gable, but a great deal more work was needed to stabilise the building. Surveys had already been carried out, and the medieval detail of the building discovered. Work was able to begin immediately, therefore, under the supervision of John Schofield and carried out by his firm, Artist Constructor’s, own team of builders.

The tie beams of the Victorian ceiling had served one useful purpose, in that they were holding the north and south walls of the building together. The large windows set in thin, unbuttressed walls are one of the chief delights of the hall, but combined with the great weight of the roof are disastrous on practical grounds, because the walls were being forced outwards. Stainless steel rods have been fitted instead, doing the same job without obstructing the view of the roof. The roof itself was stripped and, only where absolutely necessary, the timber frame repaired. Elm boards, and insulation, were laid on this and the tiles replaced. Two new chimneys were built at the same time.

The repair of the east gable was inevitably more drastic. The top nine feet had to be dismantled entirely. A concrete ring beam was then cast running round the gable, extending some feet along the side walls, with legs descending further down into the end wall. The west gable had to be partly rebuilt as well, and most of the pointing raked out and renewed, although any that was sound was retained. Finally the walls were given several coats of limewash, coloured with yellow ochre.

The sills of the hall windows had been raised by the Baptists, and were now put back at their correct level. The two external doorways were unblocked and repaired. A doorway in the south-east corner was then blocked. The stonework in the base of the oriel arch was so disturbed, that only the upper part could be left visible internally. A small blocked window in the south wall of the west chamber was reinstated. The later windows in the western end were renewed, as was the glazing throughout the building, although old glass was re-used where possible.

Inside the hall, now restored to its true proportions by the removal of the ceiling, the service doors at the west end were unblocked and repaired, after the removal of the baptistry tank, which stood in front of them. The third door was left blocked, but with its surround visible. The Victorian suspended floor was removed (some of the boards were re-used in the bedrooms) but an attempt to recreate a lime-ash floor failed. Quarry tiles were laid instead, at the medieval level. The doors and the window shutters are, of course, new. As much old plaster was retained as possible, with missing areas made up in lime plaster to match. The walls are limewashed, again coloured with a little ochre for warmth.

In the kitchen the only alteration, apart from the provision of new fittings, was to remove a staircase from the north-west corner. The position of the medieval stair was left clear by laying the joists differently. It was decided to leave the floor at its 19th century level, rather than lower it to the level of the hall. The outside door, which occupies the position of a medieval window, was repaired. The arrangement of the rooms in the lean-to, including the stair, dates from 1975. The west chamber fireplace needed minor repairs, and a partition was removed. The Old Hall was furnished in 1976; all furniture is simple and solid, and the curtains were specially designed and printed for this building.

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.