Bowden, Ashprington

Bowden is an historic estate in the parish of Ashprington, near Totnes in Devon, England. The present mansion house known as Bowden House is a grade I listed building and, having been modified over many centuries, is composed of various building styles, with an emphasis on English Baroque and Tudor.[1]

Origins of the name Bowden

Two possible derivation have been put forward as to the roots of the word Bowden. Bowden’s elevated, yet sheltered, location would match the combining of the words ‘Boga’ and ‘Dunne’ - a phrase meaning ‘the crest of a hill’ or’ rounded hill‘ an explanation put forward and favoured by Humpreys (2003) . Considering that the original access route from Totnes was an eastern approach going straight over the hill this would seem to be appropriate. A second proposition derives the origin from the word ‘Bodeton’, in which ‘ton’ - from the Anglo Saxon ‘tun’ - means enclosure, farmstead or village, in this case belonging to someone named Bode or Bude (Fanthorpe, 1999) - again there is no further evidence to support this latter derivation.

Listing description

Bowden House was given a grade 1 listing in 1952, being one of less than 10,000 such building in the UK and so is in the same category as Windsor Castle, York Minster and Blackpool Tower. Bowden House is thus considered of exceptional interest and of national importance. The Register of Listed Building provides the following description: 5180 GREEN LANE ---------- Bowden House (Formerly listed as Bawden House and Outbuildings of Bowden House) SX 85 NW 8/5 7.1.52. GRADE I Listing NGR: SX8014358848 Circa 1509 manor house built for John Gyles, remodelled with new south-east and south-west fronts circa 1700-04 for Nicholas Trist. 2 storeys. South-east facade, symmetrical with central entrance; 5 bay with fenestration 2:1:1:1:2. South-west facade, also symmetrical with 5 bays and fenestration 2:2:1:2:2. Hipped Welsh slate roof with rendered stacks. Devonian limestone ashlar with pilasters carrying entablature and parapet, plain 1st floor band. Architraved sash windows with glazing bars. Main entrance with architraved doorway, console bracketed entablature with pulvinated frieze and ½ glazed door (garden entrance with similar doorway with pediment): early C19 glazed porch. C16 range at rear with original doorways to former screen's passage; original main entrance (now internal doorway) of granite with arched head, moulded square surround with carved spandrels and hoodmould (similar doorway reused in C19 stable range. 3-light mullioned window with cavetto mouldings and hoodmould over former rear entrance. Early C19 stable block adjoining C16 range with arcaded stable yard. Symmetrical stable block with honey-comb brick treatment to 1st floor hay lofts, possibly for ventilation. Outbuildings incorporate doorway (see above) and other carved fragments from the C16 house. Interior Former Tudor hall, later the kitchen, retains a moulded plaster ceiling decorated with rib work and part of figured frieze; open fireplaces, one with early C18 mantle. C18 front room with earlier C17 panelling (brought from elsewhere in the old house) and similarly a fine carved chimneypiece with elaborate coat of arms and crowned supporters inscribed below Holophernies and Judith with date 1585. Elaborate C18 plasterwork to entrance hall including doorcase, niches, chimney- piece etc. Naturalistic classical ceiling. Medallion of Charles I dated 1735. Large panelled room over entrance hall. Fine mid C18 open staircase with open string, closely spaced, turned balusters, column newels and swept, moulded handrail.[2]

Description of Bowden House

On first approach Bowden’s primary facades provide a consistent and refined 18th C screen to the mixture of ages and styles of its much remodeled interior (Fig.1). The massive rendered chimney stacks - some with their roots in the 16C - appear a little crude in contrast to the cleanly square dressed stone of the S and W elevations. These elevations together, contain 30 well proportioned openings with two main entrances and 30 sliding sash windows all set within polished ashlar architraves. The secondary elevations to the E and N display much more clearly the many modifications made over time and incorporate masonry remnants and leftovers from previous builds.

The oldest parts of the house lie to the N and E. Land at Bowden was occupied by the de Broase family in 1154 but nothing is visible in the structure of the house to suggest it contains anything as early as this. Much of the foundation and some of the internal walls of the current building are therefore likely to have their origin in the construction work done during the ownership of Thomas Giles (or Gyles, or Gylles) who acquired Bowden in 1464. A large Tudor Mansion arose early in the 1520's - about one third of which remains today and was incorporated into the current building. Evidence of the original plan layout of Giles’ construction can be gleaned from studying the still existing cellar walls (Figs. 2, 3) (now supporting the 18th C. S range) and the Southern outer courtyard walls, which contain significant sculpted masonry features: a large granite gateway with an arched four centered head, continuously moulded jambs and leaf carved spandrels. (Figs. 5, 6) It leads to a former stable range on the E side of the courtyards. This now external granite gateway is similar to the (now internal) W entrance of the screens passage (Fig. 7) of the remaining Tudor (or Giles) Hall. Hinges to the inner face of the gateway and a worn and polished doorsill with a central latch bolt hole might indicate that these outer courtyard walls once carried a roof. Alternatively the gateway was reused as a courtyard entrance (as suggested in the listing description above) as was the tracery window frame behind the beebole - though the wall running further to the East contain further doorways and other features. The cellar and courtyard walls together suggest a possible original H-shaped arrangement of internal spaces with the afore mentioned stable yard to the N- E and the still remaining Tudor Hall to the N-W.

The Giles Family lived at Bowden for about 250 years during which - it is reported - they prospered and being of generous spirit shared their wealth and their home as ‘there is evidence that John Giles fed as many as two hundred hungry townspeople at his own table during a period of near famine’ (Fanthorpe, 1999).

Shortly after his purchase [in 1704], Nicholas Trist enlarged the house by the addition of ranges to cover two sides of the original building, but probably retaining part of a N cross wing as well as the 'Giles' [Tudor] hall. Any previous structure to the S of this hall has been obliterated by Trist's additions [apart from the cellar walls mentioned above which appear to have been retained as foundations], but a three-storey range outside the E screens doorway (Fig 22), appears likely to have contained the usual service room of pantry and buttery, with chambers over (raised by a further storey in the late 18th century). The existence of a stone and slate outbuilding across the courtyard, with an unusually massive chimney breast (8 ft x 12 ft 8" in plan), in its East wall, suggests that it may have been an original detached kitchen block (Fig. 8).

Access to the kitchen from the screens passage may have been by way of a covered passage or walkway (Fig. 9) - a feature which seems to have been repeated by the Trists in their alterations, by providing a brick arcaded passage across the court to the same building (Fig 10). It has been suggested these arcaded spaces functioned as aviaries (Northan, 1987) though there is little evidence for this.

Initially, after the Trists added the S to W ranges, the 'Giles' hall may have been used as a servants' dining room or hall, while the principal dining room was in the new S range at the S E corner reached by passing through the southerly of the two service rooms of the Giles house.

The detached kitchen arrangement was clearly discontinued later in the 18th century. The brick arcaded passage was blocked off, and the 'Giles' hall became the main kitchen, with ovens and a massive stack being added to the W side. It is also possible that the room immediately N of the hall was used for cooking, or that the stack between the two rooms originally had a fireplace on each side (Figs. 11, 13). During the ownership of the Petersen Family - in the late 1980s’ - significant works were undertaken in the hall including the opening up of the large fireplace to the W and the removal of the low painted panelling (probably softwood) which was replaced with door-height, stained oak panelling in an early Tudor style (Fig.

Beyond the room N of the 16th century hall, a further low range of two-storeys extending North, appears to have been built as an 18th century maltings (Fig.14, 16). It has a brick-built central core which is set back from the outer E & W walls, and, extends to ceiling height. The brick facing on its E side is perforated with eighteen small brick arched recesses, in three tiers of six. These recesses which resemble large pigeon holes, increase in depth horizontally, the nearer to the floor. The wall behind them, being the side of the brick core, therefore slopes or curves in a similar way to the shaft over a malt kiln furnace, widening as it rises to the malting floor above. The W side of the same building has apparently a narrow passage parallel to the side with arched openings - but this has recently been walled up and is no longer accessible (Fig. 15).

It is suggested here that the holes may have been constructed to utilise the waste heat coming from the kiln, by placing in them something that required several hours or days of warmth e.g. to raise dough before baking, fermentation of wine? Similar arched openings now blocked, are to be seen low down outside in the E wall of this building - again with no certain purpose, and the theory, of using warmth from a fire behind cannot apply to them.

Another theory: that the external recesses might be bee-boles does not seem likely, in that the holes are probably too small for straw hives, and that sited in this low position places the bee in line with passing people or animals, whereas bee boles are normally placed in garden walls not immediately close to a path.

The first floor to this range has two altered windows on the E side, but the floor has been boarded and the floor apparently rebuilt in the 19th C. Other parts of the house, elevations and roof are mentioned below.

In about 1800 Bowden was bought by the Adams family (formerly of Charlton Adam, co. Somerset) and, among other things, much work was clearly done to the roofs during their ownership which lasted until 1887.

The fine plaster ceiling in the 18th century S entrance hall (Fig. 17) was possibly inserted by the Adams, as it carries a shield of arms of 'Adams of Bowden', 'semy of crosses-crosslet fitchy, a lion rampant within a border engrailed', impaling 'three escallops'. This ceiling is in remarkably crisp condition if of the 18th century, and in any case the arms of Adams are unlikely to have been inserted by the Trists before 1800. Pevsner (1952) comments upon this room: ‘ of the few examples in the country of an essay in Baroque taste, the details rather better than the sum of the parts, as so often in provincial work. An early C18 date seems likely for most of the decoration, although some of the embellishments may be later, among them the arms of the Adam family, owners of the house from c. 1800, which appear on the ceiling.’

External Elevations

The S & W fronts of Bowden House, are of two storeys with sash windows and hipped slated roofs behind parapets. These ranges were added in the early 18th century. Each elevation is a symmetrical composition. Although differing in length, each facade is divided into three parts by giant pilasters reaching from plinth to parapet cornice.

The main walling is of squared and coursed [Devonian] limestone rubble, and the details at plinth, first-floor plattband and moulded cornice are in ashlar. [The pilasters are a bluish-grey limestone with a red limestone frieze, punctuated centrally above each window with a grey block. The wall panels between the pilasters are infilled with a deliberate mix of grey and red limestone. Further red bands are added at first floor level to the outer parts.] All windows are eighteen-pane sashes, now [mostly] with 19th-century glazing, in moulded ashlar surrounds. Each facade has a rhythm of fenestration within the three parts, the W being 2 : 5 : 2, the S facade 2 : 3 : 2, with a central ashlar door case to each elevation, the W one with pedimented head. The doors respectively leading to the main staircase hall, and the S or entrance hall (Figs. 19, 20).

The East elevation of the house is basically in four differing parts from left to right, the S extremity being the return wall of the 18th century S range. It has a rendered finish and an ashlar framed window recess to each floor, the lower one being a blank (Fig. 21). The parapet of the S front just returns a short distance at the angle, the roof then having plain eaves. Butted to the right-hand of this elevation is a stone rubble wall which surrounds the two courtyards to the E of the house, and which wall contains the granite gateway mentioned above and two fragments from stone traceried windows, ex situ (Fig. 5, 6).

The next section of the main E facade than breaks back to three-bay section (windows) rising for three storeys, again rendered over, but of stone rubble (Fig. 22, 23). The ground floor has a rebuilt central doorway with rubble jambs and a modern door (Fig. 24) - which leads to the E end of the screens passage of the Giles' hall. A lobby inside this doorway had originally a room to each side, probably the 16th-century buttery and pantry as mentioned above, and the screens doorway, of granite, has a semi-circular head with continuous simple deep-chamfered surround (Fig. 25).

To the left-hand, from the lobby is a heavy oak door frame with a two-centred arched and chamfered head (Fig. 26) leading to one of the service rooms, and opposite it, against the N wall a modern stair has been placed. There was probably here originally a matching doorway to that in the S wall, leading to the other service room.

To the left of the outer door is a window with 18th century moulded ashlar surround containing three modern wood casements. To the right of the outer door the wall is covered by the end of the brick-arched passage between house and stable range (Figs. 22, 23).

Over the outer door is a small square recessed stone panel carved with a rampant lion (mentioned above), and above this a three-light stone window with chamfered frame and mullions under a moulded label. To the left of this window is a three-lite casement, and to the right, mainly obscured by the pitched roof of the covered external passage, is a blanked off window recess. (Within the lower part of the recess and only visible from the interior of the passage roof, is a late medieval 'floral' painting on plaster - something which appears to be in situ -and which has obviously always been intended to be sheltered from the weather). It has been dated to c. 1485-1520.

The second storey of this facade appears to have been added in the late 18th century, but due to the rendered finish of the walling it cannot be definitely said to be entirely new, or to be merely a rebuild of a previous triple-gabled attic storey. The three windows in this storey are certainly above the original level of the eaves to the 'Giles' hall which lies behind, and may date from the 19th century when a larger roof was added to cover the hall and services in one span (Fig. 27).

The covered passage linking house and stable range (the suggested early detached kitchen), has two wide, segmental brick arches per side, originally open, but during the 18th century the ones nearest the house were bricked up on all sides to create a small room with internal access only. Still today this room houses a rotary hand pumping device and a cistern can be found in the smaller courtyard to the S of this room.

From the junction with the covered passage, the main walling returns to link with the E wall of the old hall. The only exposed part of the hall, in stone rubble, has a single large window to the ground floor, of two lights in a plain wood frame with central mullion and partly sashed, partly fixed glazing under a cambered brick head. The added first-floor over the hall has a single window of two adjoining sashes.

N of the 'Giles' hall the walling continues in stone rubble for three storeys with a pair of openings to each floor, now mainly modern wood casements under segmental brick arches.

A vertical joint then occurs between this and the end bay which is of two storeys in brick and slate - containing, it appears, the 18th-century maltings, described earlier.

To the end of this building, on the E side, is connected the perimeter wall of the Eastern courtyards. It is of stone rubble. Facing the inner or stable court, it is fronted by a slate-roofed passage with three large segmental brick arches on brick piers (Fig 10).

The Eastern side of the inner court is covered by the two-storeyed building which is suggested to have been originally a detached kitchen (Fig. 28). To this building a brick upper storey has been added in the 18th century, perforated by pigeon holes in the W side and S gable end. It was presumably converted to a stable range with lofts over in the time of the Trist's additions to the main house, and has recently been altered again to form two cottages (c. 1970).

The Roofs

Over the 18th century additions there is a neat lay-out of intersecting hipped slated roofs and leaded valleys, but the central late-medieval hall and service rooms have been re-roofed and raised completely in the late 18th or 19th centuries. This area of roof gives little indication externally of the divisions within the building beneath (Figs 29, 30).

Fig. 29: Roof of Bowden House as seen from the W - with Coach House to the E. (Photo: 1995 J. Tull)

Fig. 30: Roof Plan. The N S valley gutter actually extends to meet the E W run. Source RCHME survey 1987.

A stone chimney shaft rising from the existing large fireplace to the NW of the 'Giles' hall has been built raking to the W and is vaulted internally in 18th-century brickwork. It then rises to emerge through the centre of the 18th century W range.

An earlier rubble stack over the E side of the hall which is now disused and was perhaps once to a fireplace in the N service room. It has been truncated, and is only visible within the 19th-century roof.

The roof over the SE range has two parallel pitches with a central valley gutter draining to E & W. The ridges of these two roofs are supported not by the normal trussed rafters, but centrally, parallel to and beneath the ridge, by an early form of lattice girder in timber.

This has raking struts rising from each side of the lowest member of the girder, a tie beam, to support the purlins, and normal raftering (Fig 31) .

This method would seem to have been used in order to maintain a low roof profile over a wide span without having to recourse to a wholly leaded roof. Further examination of these roofs and the interior on both floors, while equipped with a plan of the house would be an advantage.

List of References

Brown, Josephine. (c. 2004) Assessment of the historic development of the windows of the south east and south west elevations of Bowden House Totnes Devon. Unpublished.

Fanthorpe, Lionel & Patricia (1999) The World’s Most Mysterious Places. Hounslow Press, Oxford.

Humphreys, Colin (2003) Desk-based Archeological Assessment of Bowden House, Totnes, Devon. Unpublished.

Lysons, Daniel and Lysons, Samuel (1822) Magna Britannia, Vol. VI. Devonshire, London.

Northan, Irene. (1987) Visit historic Homes in Devon. Published by D.R. Northan, Brixham, Devon.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, Cherry, Bridget (1952 - revised 1989) The Buildings of England, Devon. Second edition, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, J.K. & K.F. (1987) Survey and Assessment Notes. See Appendix.


Bowden House List of Descent

Reginald de Brieuse (or de Broase) (c.1154); John Giles (or Gyles, or Gylles) MP (c.1487-1552/3); to son, William Giles (c.1507-1581); to son, John Giles MP (d. 1606); to son, Sir Edward Giles MP (1566-1637); to first cousin, Richard Giles (1581-1648); to son, John Giles (d. 1676); to kinswoman, Mary, wife of Sir Richard Gipps, who sold 1704 to Nicholas Trist (1668-1741); to son, Browse Trist (c.1699-1777); to son, Hore Browse Trist (c.1736-80); to brother, Rev. Browse Trist (c.1742-91); to three daughters, who sold c.1800 to William Adams MP (1752-1811); to son William Dacres Adams (1775-1862); to son, Rev. Dacres Adams (1806-71); to son, William Fulford Adams (1833-1912), who sold 1887 to Sir Mortimer Singer (d. 1929); sold 1895 Harvey family; sold c.1914 to Montague Bush; sold to Robert William Campbell-Davidson (fl. 1923) ca. 1920 let to Col. Partridge, requisitioned for use by US Army in WW2; used as special school; sold c. 1965 to Ayles family, who sold 1976 to Christopher & Belinda Petersen; sold 2000 to Mrs & Mr R.Taylor; sold 2005 to Jan Mosbacher; sold 2014 to Bowden Housing Cooperative.


Bowden is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, but it is thought to have been within the large royal manor of Chillington. A part of this manor was Harberton, granted by King Henry I to Roger de Nonant. It later became the caput of the feudal barony of Harberton whose barons were the Vautort family. The Barony of Harberton received half of the lands stripped by the king from Juhel de Totnes (died 1123/30), first feudal baron of Totnes, before he became feudal baron of Barnstaple. Amongst the holdings of the barony of Harberton was Bothon, Bodeton, Boghedon (Bowden).[3]

de Bowden

In 1314 Bowden was held from the feudal baron overlord by John de Bowdon,[4] whose family took their name from the estate.


The de la Pomeroy family were feudal barons of Berry Pomeroy,[5] seated at Berry Pomeroy Castle near Totnes, built by Radulfus de Pomerei (Ralph de Pomeroy), from La Pommeraye, Calvados, Normandy,[6] listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding Berie[7] in demesne with 57 other manors.

  • Henry IX de la Pomeroy (1416–1481), whose second wife was Anna (or Amy) Cammel, daughter of Robert Cammel of Tittleford, Dorset, and widow firstly of Henry Barrett of Whiteparish, Wiltshire[8] and secondly of Thomas Gyll of Loddiswell, Devon. "A succession of records suggest that she brought Bowden to the Pomeroy's, along with 3 generations of chancery suits brought by the Gyll heirs".[9]
  • Thomas Pomeroy (died 1493), 3rd son by his father's first wife Alice Raleigh.[8] He was in possession of Bowden after 1487.[10] In 1491 he entered into a bond summarised as follows:[11]
Thomas Pomerey de Bowden, Esq., to William, Prior of Tottenesse and Convent. In £100. To abide the arbitration of Richard Lord Bishop of Exeter on all causes depending between them.
He married Agnes Kelloway (died 1518), great-grand-daughter of his step-mother Anna Cammell, and daughter of John Kelloway, son of John Kelloway of Sherborne, Dorset, by his wife Johanna Barrett, daughter of Henry Barrett of Whiteparish, Wiltshire, by his wife Anna Cammell.[8] In 1478 John Kelloway settled various lands on his daughter Agnes and her husband Thomas Pomeroy.[8] The Inquisition post mortem of Agnes states her to have died seized of Bowden Manor in Totnes Magna.[12]
  • Richard Pomeroy (fl.1531) of Bowden and of Rousdon, Devon, son and heir, who married Eleanor Coker, daughter of John Coker of Mappowder ("Maypowder"), Dorset.[8] An heraldic escutcheon showing the arms of Pomeroy impaling Coker (Argent, on a bend gules three leopard's faces or) existed at one time in Bowden House, as recorded in a Roll of Arms made by Sir George Carew.[13] Richard Pomeroy had a son Henry Pomeroy, who married Agnes Huckmore, daughter and heiress of William Huckmore. The marriage settlement commences: "in consideration of a marriage to be had, celebrated and solemnized between Henry Pomerey, son and heir apparent of Richard Pomerey of Bowdon, esquire, and Agnes, daughter of the said William Hokemore".[14] Richard Pomeroy sold Bowden to John Giles (died 1552/3) of Totnes and his son William Giles.


  • John Giles (died 1552/53), who in 1542 with his son William, purchased from Francis Knollys for the sum of £800 the manor of Ashprington. Also with William in 1543 he purchased from Richard Pomeroy premises in Magna Totnes, Bowden in Totnes, Tybecombe, & Asprington. The purchase was not without legal difficulties as at some time between 1544–51, with his son William and with Richard Pomeroy, he brought a lawsuit in Chancery against "Nicholas the grandson & heir of John Carsewell, Esq, & William Webber (Webster) his father-in-law, 'a grete captayne and rebell in the late commocyon in the weste partyes', for detention & forgery of Deeds relating to messuages & lands called Bowden".[16] He was a merchant in Totnes, a Mercer and Merchant Stapler, reputed to have been the wealthiest man in Devon in his time. He was Mayor of Totnes in 1517-18 and in 1529 was elected the first Member of Parliament for the Borough of Totnes.[17] He married Ellinor Towkerman.[18]
  • William Giles of Totnes, who together with his father purchased the estate.[19] He married Joane Blackall, daughter of John Blackall (alias Blackaller) of Totnes.[18]
  • John Giles (died 1606), son, who married Agnes Stucley, a daughter of Sir Hugh Stucley (1496–1559) of Affeton, Devon,[20] Sheriff of Devon in 1545.[21] He purchased the adjoining estate of Sharpham also in the parish of Ashprington, from Edward Drewe.[22] He was buried at nearby Dean Prior, Devon.[18]
  • Sir Edward Giles (1566–1637), son, MP for Totnes, of Dean Court, Dean Prior, Devon, possessor of Bowden at the time of the writing of the manuscript on the history of Devon by Sir William Pole (died 1635).[20] He was knighted in 1603 and married Mary Drewe, daughter and heiress of Edmond Drewe of Hayne, Newton St Cyres, near Crediton, Devon, and widow of Walter Northcote (1566–1587), younger brother of John Northcote (1570–1632) of Uton and Hayne, Newton St Cyres, the latter who was ancestor of the Northcote Baronets and the Earls of Iddesleigh. He died without children and was buried in St George's Church, Dean Prior,[18] where survives his monument erected in 1642.[23]
  • Richard Giles (1581–1648), first cousin, son of William Giles (died 1581), 2nd son of William Giles and Joane Blackall. He married Dorothy Carew (died 1662), daughter of "Peter Carew",[18] possibly Peter Carew of Bickleigh Castle, near Tiverton, Devon.[24]
  • Peter Giles (died 1653), son, who died unmarried.[18]
  • Edward Giles (died 1669), younger brother, who married Mary Burthogg (sister of Richard Burthogge (1637/38–1705) of Devon, a physician, magistrate and philosopher), by whom he had a daughter Elizabeth Giles (died 1663/64), who predeceased him[18] and another daughter and sole heiress Mary Giles who survived him, the wife of Sir Richard Gipps (1659–1708), Knight, of Suffolk.[25]



The Trist family owned Bowden for several generations[27] until about 1800.[28]

  • Nicholas Trist (1668–1741), who in 1704 purchased Bowden from Sir Richard Gipps.[26] In 1722 Nicholas Trist effected major alterations to the mansion house, which produced the surviving Georgian east and south fronts.[28]
  • Browse Trist (c. 1699 – 1777), son[26]
  • Hore Browse Trist (c.1736-80), son[26]
  • Rev. Browse Trist (c.1742-91), brother, who died leaving three daughters as his co-heiresses, who in about 1800 sold Bowden to William Adams (1752–1811), MP.[26]


  • William Adams (1752–1811). Bowden was acquired in about 1800[28] from the Trist family by the merchant William Adams (1752–1811), MP for Plympton Erle (1796–1801) and for Totnes (1801–1811),[31] who made it his seat.[25] He was the eldest son of William Adams of Totnes by his wife Mary Chadder, daughter of William Chadder. In 1774 he married Anna Maria Dacres, daughter of Richard Dacres of Leatherhead, Surrey, by whom he has 2 sons and 2 daughters.[32] He was made a freeman of Totnes in 1779, of which borough he was three times elected mayor, and was appointed to the honourable position of recorder in 1807. He was probably a partner in the Totnes General Bank of Adams and Company.[32] The armorials of Adams appear in the plasterwork of the main reception room of the east front.[28] He was descended from the same family origin as Nicholas Adams (died 1584) of Townstal (alias Tunstall), Dartmouth, Devon, Member of Parliament for West Looe 1547, and four times for Dartmouth, twice in 1553, and twice in 1554. Nicholas Adams was from an ancient Somerset family formerly seated at Charlton Adam, 4 miles north of Ilchester.[33][34]
  • William Dacres Adams (1775–1862), eldest son and heir, Private Secretary to two Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, namely Pitt the Younger, 1804–06 and the Duke of Portland, 1807-09. He was Commissioner of Woods and Forests (1811–1834). He married the daughter and heiress of Mayow Wynell Mayow (died 1807) of Old House, Sydenham, Kent. He inherited from his wife the Old House estate which he made his seat. He allowed Bowden to be occupied by his younger brother, Lt-Gen. Sir George Pownall Adams (1779–1856) during his lifetime.[26]
  • Rev. Dacres Adams (1806–71), eldest surviving son and heir.[26]
  • Rev. William Fulford Adams (1833–1912), son, who in 1887 sold Bowden to Sir Mortimer Singer (died 1929)[26]


Descent c.1914-1990

In about 1914 Bowden was purchased by Montague Bush, who sold it to Robert William Campbell-Davidson (fl. 1923). In the Second World War it was requisitioned for use by the US Army, and was later used as a special school. In the ca. 1965 it was purchased by Ayles family who in 1976 sold it to Christopher and Belinda Petersen, who sold in 2000 to Mrs & Mr R. Taylor; sold 2005 to Jan Mosbacher; who sold in 2014 to Bowden Housing Cooperative.[26]

Bowden House Community

Bowden House Community, present day owner and occupier of the Bowden Estate, is a "group of families and individuals developing conscious, authentic and eco-mindful living within a culture of singing, working, eating, gardening, celebrating and learning together".[36] As part of this community Bowden House itself is owned by the Bowden Housing Cooperative Ltd. and is shared by its residents.


  1. Listing text
  2. Historic England. "Bowden House (1236034)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  3. Thorn & Thorn, part 2 (notes), Chapter 1, entry 34
  4. Pole, p.293, Regnal date 8 Edward II
  5. Sanders, I.J. English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Oxford, 1960, p.106
  6. Sanders, p.106, note 9
  7. Thorn, Caroline & Frank, (eds.) Domesday Book, (Morris, John, gen.ed.) Vol. 9, Devon, Parts 1 & 2, Phillimore Press, Chichester, 1985, part 1, chapter 34, entry 48
  8. Vivian, p.607 pedigree of Pomeroy
  9. "See". Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  10. "See Pomeroy Connections website". Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  11. 1491 deed: Devon Heritage Centre (South West Heritage Trust) 312M/TY120
  12. "Text see Henry VIII Series II. Vol. 34 (65) Inquisitions post Mortem". Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  13. Sir George Carew’s Roll of Arms, number 625: Ar. on a bend g. 3 leops’ faces de or. This coate standeth impaled with Pomeroye in Bowden House by the name of Cauker. (Cawker, Coker. This is Mr. Gyles his house at Bowden, impalled with POMEROY by the name of Cawker, q. by the Ea. of Hartford Archived 2015-04-22 at the Wayback Machine. Possibly George Carew, 1st Earl of Totnes (died 1629), noted as an antiquarian
  14. "Quoted in the inquisition post mortem of William Huckmore". Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  15. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.409
  16. National Archives, Kew, ref:C 1/1253/33-43 ; see Archived 2015-04-22 at the Wayback Machine
  17. See
  18. Vivian, p.409
  19. Pole, p.293, who makes no reference to his father
  20. Pole, p.293
  21. Vivian, p.721, pedigree of Stucley
  22. Risdon, p.167; Gray, Todd & Rowe, Margery (Eds.), Travels in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of The Reverend John Swete, 1789-1800, 4 vols., Tiverton, 1999, Vol.4, p.103
  23. Pevsner, p.333
  24. Vivian, p.136, Peter Carew of Bickleigh by his wife Elizabeth Chudleigh had a daughter named Dorothy, whose brother Sir Henry Carew was born in 1599
  25. Risdon, 1810 Additions, p.380
  26. Nick Kingsley,
  27. Risdon, 1810 Additions, p.380; Pevsner, p.195
  28. Pevsner, p.195
  29. lion rampant gules per Burke, 1838, p.444, sable per Vivian, p.9
  30. Vivian, p.9
  31. History of Parliament biography
  32. History of Parliament biography
  33. Burke, 1838, pp. 434–4, Adams of Bowden
  34. Vivian, p.9, pedigree of Adams of Tunstall
  35. Pevsner, p.839
  36. "Bowden House Community website". Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-04-17.


  • Burke, John, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Enjoying Territorial Possessions or High Official Rank but Uninvested with Heritable Honours, 4 volumes (1833–1838), Vol. 4, ("Small Paper Edition"), London, 1838, pp. 434–4, Adams of Bowden
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, pp. 195–6, Bowden House
  • Pole, Sir William (died 1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p. 293, Bowedon
  • Risdon, Tristram (died 1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, 1811, with 1810 Additions, p. 166, Bowden, Ashprington
  • Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p. 409, pedigree of Giles of Bowden

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