BLACKBOROUGH HOUSE was built in 1838 by George Francis Wyndham, the fourth and last Earl of Egremont. Designed by James Thomas Knowles, a Senior who specialized in Italianate architecture, it was originally planned to be a much grander house but a change in the Earl’s personal circumstances led to the house being re-designed as the two semi-detached houses that you see today.
The Earl resided in one half and the local rector, a relation, lived on the other side. In its heyday, the house boasted 2 towers, nearly seventy feet high but since demolished. Still remaining but in great need of attention, an Italian-style loggia, encircles the ground floor and 12 huge chimneys make this property stand out in the Devon countryside.
The central court yard, now exposed to the elements, was a Great Hall, 3 stories high and covered in a glass dome. During his 7 years as an earl, George Wyndham, a prolific and extravagant builder, spent his way through £300,000. This house was never fully completed and from the time of his death in 1845 to the present day, the house has been in decline, never having had money spent on its upkeep.
It remained a rectory until 1894 and during some of that time, it was also a school for the local children. From 1913 it remained empty for 10 years, then was sold and gradually the lead roof and interior fittings including 25 marble fireplaces were stripped out and sold.
In 1930, the house was sold to the council, re-roofed and used as a training home for ‘wayfarers’ – young, homeless men with no jobs or skills – until the outbreak of war. Between 1940 and 1946, it became a Quaker training centre for war relief workers. This period of the building’s life is well-documented in the published book : “Spiceland, Quaker Training Centre 1940-1946 – Cups Without Saucers”. After the war, and to the present day, the building has been virtually derelict with an emphasis on the surrounding 11 acres as a motor car scrapyard.