The oldest parts of the present house are said by John Britton (1771–1857) to have been built about the middle of the 14th century. Due to subsequent alterations the building is difficult to date accurately and Pevsner states it to be "irritating for the historian" as it incorporates a multitude of imported period features and materials, giving it "a superficially convincing instant patina". The house was described by Polwhele in the 18th century as "ruinous", and by 1980 only the walls were standing. In about 1800 the whole range east of the entrance porch was demolished, and this has now been rebuilt in the Tudor style. In 1986 the restoration of the building began on completion of which it was used as a hotel, in which capacity it continues. Britton believed the main entrance porch, consisting of a semicircular arch, with Norman-style cable mouldings, to be of ancient date, brought from some neighbouring church, or even Plympton Castle. The double-height great hall survives largely intact and is situated to the left from the now lost screens passage on entering the porch. Two double-height windows are situated on the south side of the Hall, whilst on the north side is the large granite fireplace, on the lintel of which is carved the arms of Parker, and above which on the chimney breast is a very large ornamental plaster depiction of the royal coat of arms of King Charles I (1625–1649), dated to 1640. On either side of the arms is a larger than lifesize female figure, to the viewer's left, Peace, and to the right the figure of Plenty, holding a cornucopia. Many of the door-frames are of granite, yet are not in their original positions, for example that now forming the entrance to the great hall from the screens passage, which has been removed, was formerly in the south-east room, where it had been used as a fireplace. The ornate plaster ceiling of the great hall is said by Pevsner to be a modern pastiche, albeit well-executed. At each end of the hall is a gallery.
Descent of the manor
In 1549 Wriothesley sold the manor to Richard Mayhew (or "Mayhowe" etc.), gentleman, of Tavistock, Devon. Mayhew had acquired this manor before 22 May 1549 as the following quitclaim testifies:
Quitclaim 1) Thomas Wriothesley, knight of the Order of the Garter, Lord Wriothesley, Duke of Southampton 2) Richard Mayhowe of Tavistock, gent.
Manor of Boringdon, formerly belonging to the now dissolved priory of Plympton
Richard Mayhew's granddaughter Frances Mayhew, daughter and heiress of Jeronemy Mayhew, became in 1582 the wife of John Parker (1563–1610) of North Molton in North Devon. The marriage settlement dated 4 October 1582 is summarised as follows in the catalogue of the West Devon Record Office:
Marriage Settlement 1) Edmund Parker of Burley, St Thomas near Exeter, esquire 2) Fraunces Mayhowe, sole daughter and heir apparent of Jerome Mayhowe. Annuity of £66 13s 4d arising out of 1)'s lands in Plympton St Mary
Consideration: Marriage of John Parker and Fraunces Mayhowe.
Boringdon remained in the ownership of the Parker family, later Barons Boringdon and Earls of Morley, until the 20th century. John Parker and his wife the Mayhew heiress completed their re-modelling of the house in 1587. The family expanded the nearby village of Colebrooke to house their estate workers. During the Civil War the Parkers remained loyal to the King, and Cromwell's soldiers demolished the whole part of the house to the east of the entrance porch and screens passage, rebuilt in the 20th century. It is possible that this is the house in which Charles I himself stayed on 11 November 1642, when he is recorded as 'being at Colebrook'. In 1712 the Parkers acquired the nearby manor of Saltram on which they built Saltram House, described by Pevsner as "the most impressive house in Devon", which became their principal residence. Boringdon thus began its period of decline, and was serving as a farm-house in the 1920s, although still owned by the Parker family.
In 1951 the Parkers incurred a heavy liability to death duties following the death of Edmund Robert Parker, 4th Earl of Morley (1877–1951) and in 1957 gifted Saltram with all its contents and 291 acres, apparently together with Boringdon, to the National Trust in lieu of tax. His younger brother and heir Montagu Brownlow Parker, 5th Earl of Morley (1878–1962) retained a lease of the whole of Saltram House during his lifetime. The National Trust administers Saltram today, helped by income from visitors and by annual grants from English Heritage.
The National Trust however did not retain Boringdon for long and it sold it to Paul Chapman who converted it to a hotel. It suffered a major fire in March 1989.
In January 2011 the property was offered for sale for £3 million. It consisted of a 41 bedroom hotel, with 4 banqueting suites and 7 acres of land. It was bought by the Nettleton Collection of hotels. In 2016 it is the leading hotel in the area with a spa - Gaia spa due for completion in July 2016.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 1991, Boringdon, pp. 189–90
- Britton, John. Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, vol.2, 1809, p.111
- Boringdon Hall History, information leaflet published by present hotel.
- Formerly known as Boringdon House
- Listed Grade I 20 February 1952
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, Earl of Morley, p.795
- Pevsner, p.190
- Burke's General Armory, 1884
- Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, Morley of Saltram, 69/M/2/679 22 May 1549
- Genealogical details of Parker family from National Trust guidebook "Saltram, Devon", 2005, p.65
- Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, Morley of Saltram, 69/M/3/1 4 October 1582
- The two houses Petition for Treaty presented to the king at Colebrook, Nov. 11. 1642.
- National Trust guidebook, p.58