Edge, Branscombe

Edge, (originally, Egge[1]), is an ancient and historic house in the parish of Branscombe, Devon, England and is today known as Edge Barton Manor. The surviving house is grade II* listed[2] and sits on the steep, south-facing side of a wooded valley, or combe, close to the Fosse Way. The building was not in origin a manor house, but was one of the first stone-built houses in "Branescombe", on a villein holding called La Regge.[3] It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in England, and is constructed from the local Beer stone


Edge Barton, Branscombe, view from south-west; right: 1888 drawing

The existing building is U-shaped and may originally have been built around a courtyard. Only a short section of the original dry moat survives.[4] An early circular stone staircase tower is contained within the angle of the north wing to give access to a second floor that was created by the addition of a raised ceiling to the great hall. The stone splay of an upstairs window shows ancient, graffiti-incised drawings of sailing ships that are thought to represent those of the Spanish Armada that was becalmed offshore near Branscombe in 1588.


A chapel attached to the house dates from the end of the thirteenth or early fourteenth century.[5] Much of the rest of the house's architecture is from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The chapel, thought to have been built by Walter Branscombe, Bishop of Exeter from 1258 to 1280, occupied the present south wing, where a large rose window containing four cusped trefoils originally set within the outer gable of the west wall survives on what is now an internal wall, hidden behind a later chimney stack in the attic.[6] In 1822, Samuel Lysons described the chapel as being in a poor state of repair and desecrated. An ancient stone piscina has also survived; this was reset into a wall in the hall.

Descent of the manor


Historically, the manor of Branscombe belonged to the See of Exeter, but during the reign of King Edward III (1327–1377) the estate of Edge was acquired by the de Wadham family[8] who took their name from the manor of Wadham, Knowstone in north Devon and held Edge for eight generations,[9][10] eventually moving their principal residence to Merryfield, Ilton in Somerset around 1400, after which point Edge seems to have been used as the family’s dower house.

Dorothy Wadham's bedroom, Edge Barton

In 1618 on the death of Dorothy Petre (1534/5- 1618), widow of Nicholas Wadham, Edge and his other possessions passed to the descendants of his three sisters:[14]


Following the death of Dorothy Wadham in 1618, Edge passed into the families of the sisters and co-heiresses (at least in their issue) of Nicholas Wadham; namely, the Martyns of Athelhampton, Dorset, the Wyndhams of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset, later Earls of Egremont at Petworth House in Sussex, and the Strangways of Melbury House, Dorset, later, as Fox-Strangways, Earls of Ilchester[16], who retained co-ownership until 1933 and in the interval let Edge to a series of tenant farmers.[17]


Edge was at one point occupied as tenants by the Langdons, of Chard in Somerset, and was described in the eighteenth century as "derelict in appearance".

Early in the twentieth century it was tenanted by a Mr. Richards, of Sidmouth, who was born in Branscombe.


Edge was purchased in 1933 by Captain Frank Masters, an architect. The house was in a decayed state and with the former chapel being used as a dairy. He began extensive renovations in 1935, but did not live to complete the work.


The renovations begun by Captain Masters were completed by Robert Blackburn, an aeronautical engineer.

de Savary

Peter de Savary owned the property (via Slatecroft Properties) for a short time and sought to run it as an activity centre for "25-30 boys from overseas".[18][19]


Leese did extensive modernisation and decorations.


The Neuman family lived at Edge, and built the current conservatory for which there was placed a 15th century French gargoyle. The family did extensive landscape work to the gardens, restoration to the reception room on the ground floor and re-thatched the barn.


In 1996, Edge was acquired by retired businessman Michael Silvanus Robinson ( Silvan Robinson) CBE[20] and his wife June,[21] (née Wood), a former Conservative mayor of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The Robinsons established a link with Wadham College and in June 2010, to mark the 400th anniversary of the college's founding they entertained Sir Neil Chalmers, Warden of Wadham College and a number of the Fellows at Edge.[22]

Further reading



  1. Sir William Pole, Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, p. 141
  2. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-88678-edge-barton-manor-branscombe-devon
  3. http://www.branscombeproject.org.uk
  4. Listed building text
  5. A fine chapel at Edge in 1290 is mentioned in The Three Edwards, Prestwich, p.20. Transactions of the Devonshire Association; quoted by Ronald Branscombe <http://www.branscombe.net/genealogy/timelines/1200.HTM Archived 2017-03-05 at the Wayback Machine>. Also, see <http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-88678-edge-barton-manor-branscombe-devon> Finally, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner dates the rose window from the early fourteenth century
  6. Listed building text; www.branscombe.net
  7. Devon heraldry
  8. William Wyndham in The Wadhams and Merrifield, (1934), hazards a guess at 1377 for the date of their acquisition of Edge. Nicklaus Pevsner in his Buildings of Devon (1952) suggests a Wadham presence at Edge from 1317 but gives no reference.
  9. Pole, Sir William (died 1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p. 141
  10. Wadham pedigree in T.G. Jackson's Wadham College, Oxford; pp. 4-17, 28.
  11. John Prince, Worthies of Devon, p. 748.
  12. Roger Virgoe, "WADHAM, Sir John (d.1412), of Edge in Branscombe, Devon and Merrifield in Ilton, Som.", History of Parliament Online
  13. Roger Virgoe, "WADHAM, Sir Nicholas (by 1472-1542), of Merrifield, nr. Ilton, Som.", History of Parliament Online,
  14. T.G.Jackson, Wadham College Oxford; p. 9
  15. Strangways, Sir Giles II of Melbury House, Melbury Sampford, Dorset.
  16. See John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetter of England & Wales, 1870-72 and Billings Directory of Devon, 1857 for the landholdings in Devon of the Earl of Ilchester, many inherited by the Strangways family as co-heirs of Nicholas Wadham.
  17. Listed building text: "It was occupied by tenant farmers 1618–1933"
  18. "Planning Application 75/C1590" (PDF). EDDC Planning Portal. 22 January 1975. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  19. "Planning Committee report - planning application 75/C1590" (PDF). EDDC Planning Portal. 17 April 1975. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  20. See
  21. Sidmouth Herald Newspaper, 12 June 2010, erroneously stating Mrs Robinson's name as "Dawn"
  22. Sidmouth Herald Newspaper, 12 June 2010 & 1 July 2010
  23. See
  24. See listed building text
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