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Victorian Ilfracombe

Calthorpe House (Formerly Park Villa)

31 Belmont Road

This is one of the most attractive and best preserved of the early Victorian houses in Ilfracombe, dating, at a guess, from the 1830's. It is in the Regency style, maintaining the classical features of Georgian architecture. When it was built it must have stood in glorious isolation on the lane leading to Slade with only Broad Park House (in an early Georgian style) as its companion. Banfield on his 1868 map named it Park Villa.

13K line-drawing

Like "Una's Tea Garden" next to St Philip & St James', its gable faces the front and is reduced in height to form a pediment, (a low pitched gable), giving the facade the profile of a Greek Temple portico. The idea of a Greek temple has not been entirely lost in the otherwise plain front, since flat pilasters (attached columns) run down at each side near the corners, breaking into the mouldings of the pediment above with slight projections. Carefully placed chimneys on each side of the pediment maintain the symmetry so important to Georgian and Regency builders. This symmetry determines the placing of the windows. Two small windows under a low arch make a central feature within the pediment itself. Two fine French windows with tastefully restrained architrave's (surrounds) are set in the first floor, and originally, no doubt, the ground floor displayed three round-headed windows with extremely delicate window bars. These are placed between four pilasters with fluted columns and curled Ionic capitals. The wall here is rusticated (imitating and emphasising the joints between stones), and the corner pilasters of the first floor are continued in projecting rustication as their base. All this makes up a neat 1, 2, 3 window arrangement, a stable and satisfying balance. The structure is most likely to be of local rubble stone with stucco rendering.

Superimposed upon this (possibly at a later stage) is a delightfully delicate ground floor veranda with balcony above. The latter has lost its finely intricate ironwork, but the replacement is delicately tasteful. The veranda below still has its very slender cast iron columns with their floral brackets and the conservatory-porch on the right, though it spoils the symmetry, is not out of keeping with the rest of the building.

Recent clearing away of inappropriately planted bushes has given a much better view of the house, but it was disappointing to discover that the fine mouldings of the pediment had been replaced by boards. Conservation grants should be available to restore what is one of Ilfracombe's most important historic houses.

Jim Bates - June 1997

Ceramic street nameplates
Geoff Davies and his team are to be congratulated on the most effective restoration of the ceramic blue and white name tiles which are such a significant feature of the older parts of the town.
Please let us look after them and keep them in good order.

Conservation area or not?
I was rather surprised to hear that Broad Park Avenue had been excluded from the conservation area. This contains some of the most interesting houses, mainly Edwardian, in the town and should be protected from inappropriate "improvements".

Created 18/4/99