Great Larkbeare House in Holloway Street has a fascinating convoluted history. Situated at the base of what is now Roberts Road, it sits in a dip of Holloway Street created by the ancient Larkbeare stream. There was almost certainly an estate and house at or in the site from the first half of the 13th century but by 1530 it was in the hands of one John Hull who set about remodelling using our Heavitree Stone. The large ashlar blocks of stone used is typical of this period. There is a castellated mansion with a gatehouse and round tower shown on John Hooker’s map of 1587.
There was an extraordinary expansion in the Georgian period when the Barings, of later banking fame, extensively remodelled and extended whilst retaining the medieval core. The resulting grand mansion boasted two wings and a classical façade, which must have made an impressive sight on this route into the City centre. By 1889, however, it was demolished, with the 16th century Heavitree Stone section being the only remnant. What is now Roberts Road was built on the old estate. The current 19th century frontage onto Holloway Street was added at that time.
In 1977 the remnant was saved again from demolition by Exeter City Council and the Devon Historic Building Trust, proving that it is one extremely resilient section of heritage!
The gargoyle is a fun, modern addition.
- Exeter City Historic Environment Record – http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Application.aspx?resourceID=1054
- WG Hoskins (1960) “Two Thousand Years in Exeter”
Demolition Exeter blog – http://demolition-exeter.blogspot.com/2013/03/old-larkbeare-house-shitbrook.html