Colour image of house - don't miss it!

Hayes Barton,
Woodbury Common

Hayes Barton is the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh and lies on the edge of Woodbury Common, near the village of East Budleigh.

Click on the image for a larger version (182,050 bytes) or eMail the author for Copyright details.

Hayes Barton.

A first point that you should note if you plan to visit the house - it is not open to the public. However it can be viewed from the nearby road. The house belongs to Clinton Devon Estates.
The National Trust are not interested in acquiring it, so an outside view is all you can expect.

The house is a typical Devon farmhouse of the 14/1500's.

It was built in 1484, or possibly earlier, and is constructed using cob walls, based on a stone foundation.

The original house had a basic rectangular layout. The wings and porch were added at a later date. They make its floor-plan into the shape of a letter "E". It is approached from the right of the letter with the porch forming the shorter arm of the letter. This was a common layout at the time. It has been said that this was used as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth the first. She was not born for some 50 years after the house was built, so the assumption is that the modifications took place during her reign.

The craftsmanship is rough - for example every stair tread is of a different width (some claim this to be a means of confusing intruders, but that sounds like a carpenter's excuse to me). However the construction is very solid - the main (or King) roof beam which extends the length of the main block, is rock-hard oak - 12 inches square and 80 feet long.

The following photograph is by Martha Gail Kelly and shows the view from alongside Hayes Barton, looking towards Hayes Wood -
A view of the valley
Further pictures of the area can be found in Francis Kelly's gallery - specifically "Climbing Tree" and "Devon Road".
There are some old photographs of Hayes Barton, eg. the kitchen around 1900 and fox hounds outside the house from the same time.
The following paragraph is from an article by Sally Carter in the August issue of "The Devon Family Historian" (August 1997, page 18) published by The Devon Family History Society (11 Trelawny Road, Plympton, Plymouth, PL7 4LH). "Thomas Carter, a yeoman farmer, married Charlotte Carter of East Budleigh in 1826. He was from a long line of yeoman farmers and she was from a family of small businessmen (builders, butchers) from East Budleigh. The Carters lived at Hayes Barton, the famous birthplace of Walter Raleigh, throughout the 1840s and up until the early death of Thomas in 1858. They had 13 children, all of whom seem to have survived to full age."
The family were descendants of William Suxpitch. His family owned the Marsh Barton farm at Clyst St. George for over 600 years, finally selling it in 1803. Marsh Barton is now one of the largest Industrial Estates in the Exeter area.
Sally also discovered the following - "Robert Suxpitch Carter, the son of Thomas and Charlotte Carter, was born at Hayes Barton in 1828. He left Devon for India in the 1840's and became a pilot in the Bengal marine. Whilst there he married, and a son was born in Calcutta in 1857 - and given the glorious name Walter Raleigh Carter".

There is now a tour advertised which includes a night's stay in Hayes Barton.
The following text is given to visitors to Hayes Barton and is reproduced here by kind permission of the owners.

Hayes Barton, East Budleigh
The Birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh

The original house is believed to have been built about 1450 and is typical of the farmhouse of the district, being built in cob with an arch-braced collar beam thatched roof. In those early days it probably had a single storey central hall with cross passage and screen (note the front and back doors opposite one another). On the side of the existing kitchen there would have been the buttery and pantry with a kitchen beyond and on the other side of the hall there would have been a store with a solar (bedchamber) over.

Not long afterwards, the wings either side were added, the central hall was floored over and the chimneys built. The Devon porch was probably added during the time of Sir Walter Raleigh to form the letter "E" in honour of the Queen, as was common practice at that time. The farmhouse has remained largely unaltered since then.

Hayes Barton has remained the property of two great Estates through its history, first that of Richard Duke and then the Rolle Estate, now known as Clinton Devon Estates. From the letter overleaf (too unclear to be scanned) you will discover that Sir Walter Raleigh tried to buy it in 1584. It is currently farmed by the Down family who have lived there for two generations. The surrounding buildings mostly date from c. 1880 and 1980!

Sir Walter Raleigh's father was tenant here and a Church Warden at East Budleigh where the family crest on the bench end and his step-mother's tomb can be seen today. The house where he is said to have been schooled still exists too (Vicars' Mead) but sadly the River Otter is no longer navigable. In those days, there was a busy harbour in the valley where no doubt Walter spent many hours listening to sailors' tales. A seed was sown!

You will enter through the magnificent 16th Century front door to come into what was once the central hall. The chimney to the fireplace is dated RD 1627. The screen has unfortunately long since disappeared.

At the top of the stairs, look at the window, the earliest surviving. Also note the uneven risers on the stairs (known as "trip stairs", to trap the unwary intruder). You will then enter Raleigh's room and look out to Hayes Wood through the crested window. The crest was added at the suggestion of the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII). Look at the floorboards and antique four-poster bed.

Going along the top of the house, you will get a good chance to look at the arch braces and the great wall beam said to be a single piece of oak 80' long and nearly 12" square. The "smoke room" over the porch contains several interesting momentos of Sir Walter.

The back stairs lead to the sitting room with its recently revealed inglenook and onwards to the fine kitchen. The tasteful modernisation harmonises well with the magnificent 12" table and the wide kitchen grate with its rare below-fire oven. On the right is the usual farmhouse bread oven.

We hope you have enjoyed this slice of history.

The following two maps show the general area of the house -

There is an area of Raleigh, North Carolina, named after Hayes Barton. This link takes you to a site relating to a local festival, where there is a page dealing with the history of that area.

Woodbury Common
main menu
Information Devon web pages available
on Devon County Council's Web Server
Devon main menu
Tourism main menu
This page last updated 30th. November 2001
Some items © Copyright as described above.
Remainder © Copyright Jim Batten, 1996-2001.

Send comments, enquiries, etc. to