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Cadhay is an early-20th-century garden on the site of 16th-century gardens. The site occupies around 2 hectares within an 8 hectare ornamental site, with adjacent parkland.


Relatively level

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

An early and mid 20th century formal garden incorporating medieval fishponds and a 19th century walled garden, with 19th and 20th century ornamental paddocks.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Cadhay is situated c 1km north-west of the town of Ottery St Mary to the west of the B3176 running from Ottery St Mary to the hamlet of Fairmile c 1.75km north-west. The 8ha site comprises c 1ha of formal and informal gardens, c 0.75ha of kitchen gardens and c 6.25ha of ornamental paddock. The site is bounded to the north-east by hedge banks and pines along the B3176, while to the north, north-west and south-east it adjoins agricultural land and is enclosed by hedges and fences.

To the south fences separate the garden from meadows below the dam of the larger fishpond, while to the west the site is bounded by the west wall of the kitchen garden. The site is relatively level, with a gentle slope from higher ground to the north-west towards the River Otter which runs c 500m south-east of Cadhay House, while the stream issuing from the fishponds flows south through a shallow valley towards Ottery St Mary. From the east terrace and lawn there is a wide view across the paddocks towards the wooded east bank of the River Otter c 500m east-south-east, with a more distant prospect of the wooded west-facing slopes of East Hill c 4km to the east.

Entrances and Approaches

The site is approached from the B3176 to the east, at a point c 500m north-west of Cadhay Bridge on the River Otter. A simple entrance cut through the bank separating the paddocks from the road leads to a tarmac drive which extends c 270m west-south-west through a late C19 avenue of lime trees (partly replanted late C20) to the House and forecourt which lie south of the drive. The drive continues west for a further 50m to Cadhay Barton where it joins a service drive which runs c 120m north and west to a minor lane west of the Barton farm, and c 100m south to meadows south of the gardens.

The gravelled forecourt lies to the north of the House and is enclosed by the building to the south, south-east and south-west. To the north, north-east and north-west it is enclosed by red-brick walls with stone-capped pier buttresses, that to the north being lower than the flanking walls. The brick-coped parapet of the north wall sweeps up to tall, early C20 stone-capped gate piers which support early C20 oak gates with down-swept top rails, spear finials, and simple rails with a central band with pierced circular decoration. The north-west and north-east corner piers are surmounted by carved stone finials on stepped brick bases, and an arched doorway (now blocked) in the west wall is echoed by a similar doorway with a wooded early C20 door in the east wall leading to the garden.

There are grass panels and narrow flower beds below the forecourt walls, and a mature Irish yew in the north-east angle. The present arrangement of the forecourt dates from the early C20, and while the west and north walls are of C18 or early C19 origin, the east wall and the north gateway were built c 1910. North of the gateway to the forecourt and beyond the drive stands a chamfered medieval stone cross shaft set on a stone base, said previously to have been located in the central courtyard of the House (O William-Powlett pers comm, 1998). The elements of the cross while apparently originating on the site were re-erected in this position in the early C20.

Principal Building

Cadhay House (listed grade I) is a two- and three-storey stone mansion under hipped slate roofs dating from the mid C16 with early C17 additions and C18 and early C20 alterations, built around a central courtyard. The west façade was partly remodelled in the C18 and overlooks a rectangular service yard, now (1998) laid to grass. The central courtyard, known as the Court of the Sovereigns, was remodelled in the early C17 and has walls of chequer-work sandstone and flint. In the centre of each side statues of Henry VIII and his three children (one dated 1617) stand under ribbed canopies supported on Corinthian pilasters. The Court is now paved with cobbled perimeter gutters, but until the mid C20 it was divided into grass quarters by flagged paths. The south wing contains a C16 long gallery on the first floor.

Principal Building

The gardens are located to the east and south of the House. The arched doorway in the east forecourt wall leads to a broad gravel walk which extends the length of the east façade and overlooks a wide lawn planted with specimen trees and separated from the paddock to the east by an C18 or early C19 stone and part brick-coped ha-ha. The lawn is enclosed to the north by a yew hedge c 50m long and clipped evergreen shrubs. Immediately south-east of the House the gravel walk extends c 40m south between early C20 brick-edged mixed shrub and herbaceous borders backed to east and west by tall yew hedges.

Stone bench seats supported on carved stone consoles are placed in recesses at the mid-point of the east and west borders. The borders, created by Mrs William-Powlett in the 1930s, are terminated to north and south by early C20 low drystone walls with low stone-capped piers (O William-Powlett pers comm, 1998). The gravel walk is aligned to the south on the grass bank which separates the two medieval fishponds and leads to an informal garden c 100m south-east of the House, created in the late C20 on the site of earlier tennis courts.

The smaller fishpond, a rectangular pool extending c 50m east between sloping grass banks lies some 80m south-east of the House. To the west the larger pool lies c 50m south of the House and is L-shaped on plan with a wide rectangular pool to the west and a narrow arm extending from the north-east corner towards the smaller pool to the east. The larger pool is embanked to the south-east, south and south-west. The south-east bank is planted with specimen trees, shrubs and a collection of rhododendrons, while to the south the grass embankment affords southerly views across meadows towards Ottery St Mary. To the west a single row of mature Scots pines separated the pond and the adjacent grass walk from a sunken leat to the west; felled by gales in 1990, the pines have since been replanted.

The south garden, developed in the early C20 on the site of outbuildings between the House and the western fishpond, is enclosed to the east by the yew hedge west of the herbaceous borders, and to the west by a stone wall of 1935 standing c 3m high, extending c 30m from the south-west corner of the House. A stone-flagged walk with cobbled side panels extends across the south front of the House, enclosing borders within the recesses of the façade and leading to a door in the west wall. Below the south porch a cobbled area is enclosed to east and west by low brick recesses containing low bench seats and terminated by stone-capped piers. Yew hedges are planted on the outer sides of the recesses.

Three rectangular panels of lawn extend south, separated by north/south gravel walks. The east lawn retains a single mature standard apple tree, while the central lawn, aligned on the south porch, is planted with an avenue of clipped Irish yews, with a mature yew tree standing c 45m south-east of the House. Some 50m south-west of the House a square, recessed garden is enclosed to the north by an early C20 stone wall terminated to east and west by stone piers, while to the west and south it is enclosed by lower C18 brick walls. Abutting the south wall at the south-east corner of the garden is a single-storey, stone and brick, slate-roofed farm building, converted in the early C20 into a garden room. The garden is laid out with a lawn, perimeter borders and a central stone-edged rectangular pond flanked to south-west and north-west by a pair of low urns, and is shaded to the east by a mature hornbeam. This garden was designed by John Tremlett in the mid C20.


Ornamental grass paddocks lie to the north, north-east and east of the House. The eastern boundary of the larger paddock north of the drive is planted with mature Scots pines. The paddock south of the drive has a group of Scots pines on the eastern boundary, together with groups and individual deciduous trees. To the south the paddock adjoins a mid C20 plantation which lies outside the site. To the east it is separated from the lawns below the House by a stone-walled ha-ha.

Kitchen Garden

Lying c 30m west of the House, and separated from both the service yard and the gardens by a north/south farm track, the rectangular kitchen garden is enclosed to the west and south by buttressed brick walls c 3m high. To the north, the kitchen garden is adjoined by a substantial early C19 brick barn, the south wall of which forms the north wall of the garden. The east boundary is closed by a lower brick wall c 1.5m high, with a gateway c 30m from its southern end. Simple stone-capped brick piers support a single early C19 wrought-iron gate with three ogee-headed vertical panels, which is placed opposite a similar gateway leading east to the gardens. The east/west axis along the north side of the fishponds in the gardens is thus projected west as the principal axis of the kitchen garden.

Now (1998) largely laid to grass with a nursery plantation in its northern half, the kitchen garden retains espaliered fruit trees marking the east/west axial path, together with several mature standard fruit trees. A late C20 double-span aluminium-framed glasshouse has been erected in the north-west corner of the garden, and traces of C19 glasshouses remain against the south face of the north wall. A substantial brick and slate-roofed store stands within the kitchen garden abutting the east wall c 50m north of the south-east corner. A doorway leading through the south wall to the farm lane is now (1998) bricked-up. Extensive orchards west of the walled garden shown on the late C19 and early C20 OS maps, but outside the registered site, are now grazing enclosures.


  • Tithe map for Ottery St Mary parish, nd (c 1840), (Devon Record Office)
  • OS Old Series 1" to 1 mile, published 1809
  • OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1887, published 1891
  • OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1888, published 1889
  • 2nd edition revised 1903, published 1905


  • Rev J Swete, View of Cadhay, 1793 (564M/F7, 5), (Devon Record Office)
  • View of Cadhay, early C19 (Add MS 33714), (British Library)

Archival items

  • Collection of deeds and related documents (DD6600(58), (Devon Record Office)
  • Rev J Swete's account of a visit to Cadhay, 1793 (564M/F7), (Devon Record Office)
  • Terrier and Report of Cadhay Estate, 1813 (Hare 6056, 227 x 6), (Norfolk Record Office)
  • Letters and accounts including items relating to work in the garden, 1803(14 (6658), (Devon Record Office)
  • Photographs of Cadhay showing House and grounds, 1900 and 1926 (West Country Studies Library)

Description written: January 1999

Amended: May 1999

Edited: July 2000, March 2022

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01404 813511

Access contact details

Cadhay House, gardens and tearoom are open to the public on Friday afternoons from the beginning of May to the end of September.

For more detailed opening times visit the Cadhay website.


The gardens lie off the A30 between Honiton and Exeter.

For more detailed directions visit the Cadhay website.


Rupert Thistlethwayte

Cadhay, EX11 1QT

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

13th - 16th Century

A sub-manor of Ottery St Mary owned by the de Cadehaye and Grenville families from the mid 13th century, Cadhay was acquired through marriage in 1527 by John Haydon, a wealthy Exeter lawyer and son of the steward of Bishop Vesey of Exeter. Haydon built a new house, probably incorporating an earlier building and using material removed from the 14th century College at Ottery St Mary suppressed in 1545.

In 1587 the property was inherited by Haydon's great-nephew, married to the daughter of Sir Amias Poulett, of one of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council.

17th - 18th Century

Robert Haydon made significant changes to the House including the creation in about 1617 of the central courtyard. Fines for supporting the Crown during the Civil War depleted the Haydons' fortune, and by the late 17th century the estate was mortgaged.

In 1736 Cadhay, the last of the family estates, was sold to the Peere-Williams family, who were responsible for rebuilding the entrance façade in the mid 18th century. By the late 18th century the House belonged to Admiral Lord Graves (d 1802), and was visited by the Reverend Swete in 1793 who described it as 'an Edifice of no common note', and commented on the groves which surrounded it which he considered 'coequal with the mansion' (Gray 1995).

19th Century

An estate survey of 1813 noted that the House was in divided occupation, part being let to a 'Ladies' Boarding School', with a projecting wing to the south of the House divided into two cottages. The House was badly affected by dry rot, and it was recommended that the larger fishpond in the garden should be partly drained. The garden, presumably the kitchen garden, was described as large and surrounded by a 'Pisa' wall, while 32,000 larch, Scots pines and beech had been planted in the grounds, of which 7500 had been raised at Cadhay from seedlings sent from Scotland. Cadhay was occupied by a succession of tenants in the 19th century,

20th Century

Cadhay was sold in 1910 to the Cambridge academic W C Dampier Whetman, who commissioned H M Fletcher to restore the House and remove the southern extensions.

In 1924, Major B N B William-Powlett took a lease and subsequently purchased the estate. The gardens were largely created by Mrs William-Powlett during the 1920s and 1930s within a framework of old walls and incorporating the medieval fishponds. While essentially a 20th century creation, the garden, paddocks and kitchen garden conform to the pattern of use shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 1" map published in 1809 and the mid 19th century Tithe map.

21st Century

The estate remains (2022) private property. Over the past decade, the current owner, Rupert Thistlethwayte has restored Cadhay to its previous splendour.

Cadhay now (2022) offers self-catering accommodation and is licensed for Weddings.


  • 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
  • Early 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1680
  • Grade: II


  • Manor House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Fishpond
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Stream
  • Terrace
  • River
  • Description: River Otter
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


20th Century (1901 to 1932)





Open to the public


Civil Parish

Ottery St. Mary