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Stonelands House was constructed in 1817 on a previously undeveloped site for Charles Hoare, owner of adjacent Luscombe Castle. The Luscombe estate had been purchased by Charles Hoare in the late 18th century, and between 1800 and 1804 a castellated mansion was constructed to the design of John Nash (1752-1835) while between 1800 and about 1817 the grounds were laid out under the direction of Humphry Repton (1752-1818). Nash's original proposal for Luscombe was a relatively plain classical villa, but Repton, in his Red Book for Luscombe Castle (1799), successfully argued for a more picturesque composition. Nash's design was finally implemented when Stonelands was constructed, possibly with the intention that it should be used as a dower house; it appears never to have been used for this purpose. Instead, in about 1820, Stonelands was let to Henry Drummond (Roberts 2002), and was subsequently sold in 1822 to Codrington Parr, a County Magistrate from Exeter. At about the same time the property is believed to have been let to Sir John Rennie (1794-1874), Engineer to the Admiralty, who was engaged on work at Plymouth between 1821 and 1832 (Nicholas Pearson Associates 2000).

Codrington Parr continued to own Stonelands until about 1860, when the property was sold to Peter Richard Hoare who had succeeded to the Luscombe Estate in 1856. During the 1860s and 1870s Stonelands was used to house successive priests serving the Oratory of St Alban at Luscombe Castle, a chapel built by P R Hoare in 1862. By 1881 the property was let to Alexander McCasland, a gentleman from Lanarkshire (Census, 1881), while in 1924 it was leased to W J Chinneck of Dawlish. The Luscombe Estate sold Stonelands to Mr Chinneck in 1938, and subsequently, with the assistance of his gardener, Mr Webster (previously head gardener at Greenway, Devon), he developed the gardens, constructing a rock garden by the Dawlish Water, and planting an extensive collection of rhododendrons and magnolias, some of which were obtained from major collections in Cornwall and Surrey (Country Life 1963).

Mr Chinneck died in 1961 and was succeeded at Stonelands by his daughter, who continued to live there until 1965. In the mid 20th century the property passed through several hands before becoming the premises of the Dawlish Squash Racquets Club. In the late 20th century Stonelands was again sold several times, with part of the site being sold for development in the 1990s. The house and pleasure grounds were sold to the present owners in 1999, and today (2002) the site remains in divided, private ownership.

The early 19th century villa was set in extensive pleasure grounds with areas of ornamental plantation on rising ground to the north-west of the house, and lawns extending west to Dawlish Water; a reciprocal view across the stream to the park associated with Luscombe Castle was framed by boundary planting. A kitchen garden to the north was screened by ornamental planting, as were the buildings of Luscombe Home Farm to the north-west. An advertisement for the sale of the property in 1820 described the 'excellent and substantial mansion' being set in 'thriving shrubberies and plantations, garden ground, orchard, meadow, arable and pasture land' (Exeter Flying Post, 1820). A further advertisement dated May 1822, believed to relate to Stonelands, refers to a lawn in front of the house, and a walled garden (Roberts 2002). This arrangement is recorded on the Tithe map (1839), and is shown with only minor modifications on the late 19th century Ordnance Survey map (OS 1890). Further changes were made in the 20th century, when W J Chinneck developed various garden features from 1924, and in about 1997 when the property was divided and the former stables redeveloped.

The ornamental planting around the house appears to incorporate specimen trees, particularly several mature oaks, which pre-date the construction of the house. It has been suggested that these formed part of Repton's development of the wider landscape around Luscombe Castle in 1801-1817, although it is clear that, due to his death in 1818, Repton would not have had any involvement in the planning of the pleasure grounds at Stonelands (Debois 1991; Nicholas Pearson Associates 2000).

Site timeline

1860 to 1879: Stonelands was used to house successive priests serving the Oratory of St Alban at Luscombe Castle, a chapel built by P R Hoare in 1862.

People associated with this site

Designer: John Nash (born 1752 died 1835)



Dawlish Water, a stream which flows from north-west to south-east through the site.

ornamental bridge

Feature created: 1800 to 1833

Stonelands Bridge.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

boundary wall

Rubble-stone walls.