Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Old Coach House, Ottery St Mary, Devon

Some places have so much history and information, spanning back many generations of interesting and famous people, with different uses and architectural additions, that I honestly don't know where to start. This isn't one of them! ;)

On the rare occasion I get one of the above, or the exact opposite where a building looks as if it should have a lot history, but appears not to. Or, at least, none that I can discover. Interestingly I came across both kinds in Ottery St Mary, the first being the Chanter's House, the second this intriguing little building known as the Old Coach House. So, as on most of these occasions, I will just waffle my way through some features which may shed some light, and is as always purely my own conjecture and not to be taken as gospel.

Situated on the opposite corner to the King's Arms Hotel, this area forms a group of British Listed Buildings. Number 6 is part of that group but on checking out various sources, the listing refers to a different number 6 amongst the buildings on the opposite side of the street. As the King's Arms was a coaching house, it's a bit of a mystery why this one should be one too. I had wondered if it had once been part of a complex, having belonged to the King's Arms, but I can't find any record of it and would surely have been noted as such in the listing.

However, there are some architectural clues which may have presupposed it's former existence as a coach house. The large, double-doored entrance could have facilitated horses, although not tall enough to allow passage for coaches. This is also true for the King's Arms, which was a staging post to change the horses rather than a stopping post to stay overnight before a return journey. The entrance in the Old Coach House may have been used for deliveries, in which case it may have housed a trade of some sort. 

The windows are Georgian in appearance. However, the first storey ones are rather awkwardly set into blind window insets, and are most likely a later addition. The building comprises a lower wall of rubble while the upper storey is brick built. I came across a photo from the 1960s showing the original unpainted brick and rubble facing, which can be found in the Ottery St Mary photos of the King's Arms in the Francis Frith collection (I can't link to it directly but it can be found via search engine).

What is really lovely about this building is the elegant convex crescent shape, curving around the corner of Cornhill and Gold Street. The Georgian period is known for it's crescents, abeit on a much grander scale, such as the ones that can be seen in the city of Bath. However, there is a crescent in Truro, Cornwall, in which the buildings are similar to this. Called Walsingham Place, it's a delightful street of both convex and concave terracing, comprising small houses of two-storeys on each side. They can be seen on this link below...

One of those chance encounters whilst having a mooch around, I'm glad to have found this delightful and unusual building. There are lots of unanswered questions, but plenty of interesting features to muse about and enjoy. And, as always, I will add any further information as and when I come across it.

These are the only photos I have, which can also be seen in the Photo Gallery album.

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