About the House
Poltimore House is a significant Devon landmark, historically and architecturally. The drawing shows it as it was c.1900. The speculative reconstructions at the bottom of this page show it as it might be, once restored and back to full use.
We are determined to raise the funds to repair this great building, to restore it to the community, and to a future as a new kind of landmark.
Poltimore House has a prominent place in Devon’s culture: one of the great historic estates of the county. For five centuries it was home to the Bampfylde family. In 1921 it became Poltimore College, a girls’ school, and in 1940 became the war-time home of Dover College for boys. From 1945 – 1975 Poltimore served as a hospital, Poltimore Hospital, first in private hands, later as part of the National Health Service. Sold by the NHS in 1975, with its grounds reduced to just 13 acres, it became a nursing home until a fire destroyed the former ballroom wing in 1987.
From then on it became increasingly derelict, neglected and vandalised, slipping rapidly into decay. Efforts from English Heritage, East Devon District Council and eventually the Buildings at Risk Trust saved it from destruction and since 2000, with its acquisition by the Poltimore House Trust, with the aid of East Devon District Council, its future has looked more secure.
BBC2’s Restoration programme in 2003 brought Poltimore to national attention. Even though it won only the competition in the South West, and missed out on the prize money, it attracted a large following of loyal Friends, who formed a separate Charity, Friends of Poltimore House, in 2004 to support the House and its restoration. In 2005 English Heritage supported the costs of the great scaffold and top hat tin roof to protect it from rain and wind. English Heritage followed this generous support with a grant of £500,000 to start the process of renewing the roof. Further grants have been achieved and support from more organisations and volunteers is bringing new life to the project. The historic house has attracted many people and groups over recent years. The enthusiasm for finding a solution to Poltimore House and its grounds continues and the many-stranded project continues to develop and grow. Poltimore House Trust and its supporters are working hard to enable the long journey back to life again.
Poltimore House is now encased in scaffolding, and a vast protective roof is keeping it dry, stabilising its damaged fabric. These three projections show what we might achieve with the restoration of the House. Projections by Simpson and Brown, architects, Edinburgh.