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Widecombe History Group Talks
The Restoration of Buckland Court by David Burke.
David and Jill Burke are the present owners of Buckland Court, which is in our neighbouring parish of Buckland in the Moor. They bought the property in 2010 and have devoted their time money and energy since into the massive task of bringing it back to an habitable state. Jill was unable to be with us so David gave an illustrated talk on the work that they have done.
There are records of a Buckland Manor as far back as 1284 this could well be the site.
The present house is about 200 years old and has been added to over the years. We were shown a plan of the layout of the house and an explanation was given as to how it has developed and extended.
The Bastard family owned it from 1614 - 1926 when it was sold to the Whitley family who owned it until 1958. It was then bought by the Merrick family and they sold it to the Bromage family who began restoring it but lost it through bankruptcy when David and Jill Burke purchased it.
The Bastards used it more like a summer lodge as they lived mainly at Kitley in South Devon according to a mention in Billing’s Directory of 1850.
There is a date inscribed on a back wall of 1820, this possibly alludes to extensions done in the early 1800s.
During World War II it was commandeered by soldiers from North America and they ill treated the property, burning doors etc in the fireplaces and generally ruining the property. Photographs were shown of the state of the building in 2007 through to 2010. Rusty galvanised roofs in places in desperate need of attention. The windows were in a sorry state and there are some in the building which are of a rare Venetian Style, they have now been properly restored.
The energy needs of a house that size are considerable and they have installed ‘hot rock’ style water heating system. Some of the under floor heating and plumbing arrangements were shown to us in photographs. They have achieved this by drilling 10 x 100metre holes into the ground and the water supply is diverted through this, filters and ultra violet treatment works. The floors in some of the rooms had tongue & groove timbers which they wished to keep but, on lifting some of them, the mess they found underneath was horrendous. Rotten joists, some comparatively new timber, only a couple of years old, were completely rotted. Water was seeping through under the property and causing mould and rot due to there being no insulation or proper ventilation.
There are some lovely pieces of ‘Purbeck Marble Flooring’ and this has been cleaned and improved and replaced as necessary. Some pieces have fossils in them and still carry the chisel marks of the craftsmen of old who cut the stones.
Now the house is becoming a home. Central heating has been installed including under floor heating in places. The electrical wiring has been rectified and a beautiful piece of old ‘stencil work’ has been uncovered and retained.
There were some ‘high notes’ besides the view. Some lovely old hinges and latches from the old window shutters and a remarkable old door latch which has been now lovingly restored and a key made to fit it.
Why on earth did they buy it when it needed so much restoration? Reply; The view! It is wonderful!
The roofs leaked, the kitchen and bathroom were hardly fit to stay in, no mains water - what a challenge!
‘If you take on a challenge like this you must never look back, you must have positive attitude. It has cost far more than originally thought but you can't stop now.’ We wish them all the luck in the world in their massive task and hope that they are able to enjoy the fruits of their work for many years.
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