Preserving your Past for the Future



Visit to Shilstone House and the Devon Rural Archive

(This account was very kindly contributed by one of our party after a very enjoyable day.)

On a lovely sunny morning in early June I set off for Shilstone House near Modbury to meet a group of people from Aveton Gifford parish for a tour of the house, gardens and the Devon Rural Archive. 

An introduction to the tour was given by Abi, an archaeologist and our guide for the day. The Rural Archive is housed in a purpose-built building and contains information about Devon's domestic rural architecture and landscapes. We were taken to its library and on a large table were maps, photos and documents about Aveton Gifford parish for us to study. We spent some time looking through and discussing these fascinating documents.

Studying AG related archives

I was interested to learn that Aveton Gifford was famous for its stone-masons. The best known, Richard Macey, was born in 1790 in the village and later moved to London where he built many churches and theatres including the Haymarket and Lyceum.
The library is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is a useful resource for those wanting to find out more about Devon's rural history. 
After lunch we joined Abi for a tour of the manor. The Georgian house is being beautifully renovated by the Fenwick family using local craftsmen, some of whom have been working there for 15 years. Although the family live there we were able to look around many rooms, some of which are still being restored.
Shilstone House
We then went into the gardens where we were told there were still signs of ancient terracing. It is thought that there was a bronze-age settlement on the site and there is evidence of a Domesday manor. The house has been built on level ground at the head of a small steep-sided valley with a series of fish-ponds in the valley bottom which are part of a 17th century water-theatre, the only one known and of national importance.

In the once kitchen garden

View to the south

Walking back to the Archive building we passed a group of farm buildings, currently being restored, and ended the tour by thanking our knowledgable guide, Abi. We were offered tea and cakes before we left this pleasant and interesting manor and archive, tucked away in a valley close to Modbury. 
This article was kindly contributed by Paula.