Poltimore House
Poltimore House is a sixteenth century listed Grade II* manor house just outside Exeter, Devon and originally the Bampfylde family seat. It was a finalist in the first series of BBC Television's Restoration series in 2003.


Early history
The Bampfylde family were bequeathed the village of Poltimore in 1298 by William Pontyngton, a canon of Exeter Cathedral. There is no record of where the family lived for the first few hundred years, although it is thought that they lived in or near the village. There is no evidence that there was a previous house on the site of the present one. Poltimore House was built by Richard Bampfylde, who started the works in 1550 . There is no record of when the house was finished, although when Richard died in 1595, he left the house to his son, Amyas, in his will. As Richard had been appointed Sheriff for Devon in 1576, it is considered that his grand house was complete by then. Two wings of his original house can still be seen in the present building. It is not known what form the original house took ”“ whether it was just these two wings forming a "L", or if there was a third or even a fourth wing forming a courtyard in the middle. Later members of the family added to the building, with the last major building works in 1908, to give the present house.

Later history
It was lived in by the family until 1920, when it was put on the market with its grounds and estate. The estate was sold but not the house and grounds, which were instead leased to a girls' school and became Poltimore College. The school closed in 1939. In 1940, the boys from Dover College were evacuated to Poltimore House. The House became a hospital in 1945, at first a private one which was used by the National Health Service when it came into existence in 1948. Later it was taken over by the NHS. It closed as a hospital in 1974. It then went through a series of owners before suffering an arson attack in 1987 and being left empty from then on. It suffered from theft and vandalism and has fallen into a state of disrepair. Poltimore House Trust was set up in 2000 to try to find a use for the house and restore it. The first phase was to encase the house in scaffolding with a roof to protect it, which was done in 2005. In 2009 the Trust secured £500,000 from English Heritage to begin the restoration process.

Future plans
Poltimore House Trust published its Strategic Business Plan in 2009. It is based on an ambitious vision. By 2019 the Plan states that the renovated Poltimore House will have become:
  • A showcase for the Arts and Creative Industries: a venue for arts, crafts, media companies, filmmakers and software developers.
  • A home for Creative Entrepreneurs: high-specification workspaces, hot-desking and studios with excellent communications.
  • The Poltimore Forum: high-profile lectures, workshops and mentoring sessions will bring leading-edge thinkers to the South West.
  • The Club at Poltimore House: a meeting venue for the region with super-equipped meeting spaces for briefings, networking and research.
  • Intensive innovation: exposing new thinking, practice, learning, skills: linking academia, heritage, industry, technology and the arts.
  • A different day out: Poltimore House will attract visitors seeking inspiration, skills and learning, networks, relaxation and fun.
This range of projects is designed to bring Poltimore House and its grounds back to use as an important resource for local and regional businesses, arts and the community. The Trust has created The Poltimore Foundation as the vehicle to drive this vision forward in partnership with regional businesses, entrepreneurs, policymakers, universities and the voluntary sector. The University of Exeter has pledged its support and will be closely involved in the development of the Foundation’s strategy and business plan.

  • The Friends of Poltimore House, PO Box 409, Exeter, UK, EX4 5WZ email: chairman@poltimore.org.uk
  • Poltimore House Trust, PO Box 409, Exeter, UK, EX4 5WZ email: secretary@poltimore.org
  • Poltimore Foundation