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A Devon Family
The presence of the Woollcombe family in Devon has been recorded since the 1100s, and in the Plympton area since the 1500s. The family has participated significantly in local public life, in particular over the last 300 years, through the naval and military services, the clergy, business, the law, medicine, and local government.
In 1790, Thomas Woollcombe, a Plymouth surgeon, bought one half of the manor of Hemerdon for his daughter Maria. Two years later, Maria married a cousin, George Woollcombe, and they began the construction of Hemerdon House, initially a rather modest square building, the boundaries of which are still discernible.
In 1799, Maria's father died, leaving her some money, and she and George then began the expansion of the property to the structure which it retains, with a few alterations, to the present day. In 1802, Maria died, and the following year George bought the other half of the manor of Hemerdon, thus putting back together what had been divided and sold by previous owners in 1687.
The house is set in landscaped grounds, the parkland having been laid out in 1802, with a pond and a walled garden.
The mansion itself, having been built by the Woollcombe family and occupied by us ever since, contains a wealth of local and family history. The major fittings, fireplaces and the like are thought to be original, and the furnishings have been accumulated over the years by the family for the house. These include a number of paintings and objets d'art, many acquired by George's brother Henry, who was founder of the Plymouth Athenaeum and an enthusiastic patron of local artists.
Hemerdon offers an intimate insight into a country house and its family from the late 18th century to the present day.