Lupton, Brixham

Lupton House, built by Charles II Hayne (1747-1821), Sheriff of Devon in 1772 and Colonel of the North Devon Militia. Palladian south front, original entrance front, viewed in 2013, still "sadly derelict", wings now missing Palladian gables [1] visible in 1793 Swete watercolour (see below). Derelict formal garden in foreground
"Lupton, seat of Sir Francis Buller", 1793 watercolour, view from south-west, by Rev John Swete. The Palladian gables topping both wings of the south front are now missing
west front, remodelled c.1840 to design of George Wightwick to form new main entrance with porte cochere[1]
Lupton House, view from west, left: west front; right: south front

Lupton is an historic manor in the parish of Brixham, Devon. The surviving manor house known as Lupton House, is a Palladian Country house built by Charles II Hayne (1747-1821),[1] Sheriff of Devon in 1772[2] and Colonel of the North Devon Militia. It received a Grade II* listing in 1949.[3][4] The park and gardens are Grade II* listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[5]

At some time before 1792[6] it was sold by Charles II Hayne, who had only lived in his new house for about twenty years, to the judge Sir Francis Buller, 1st Baronet (1746-1800), of nearby Churston Court, which he let to a tenant.[7] Judge Buller had another residence, on bleak Dartmoor, known as Prince Hall,[8] where he was a pioneer of moorland reclamation.[9] In about 1840 the house was remodelled in the neo-classical style by his grandson, Sir John Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baronet (1799–1871; created Baron Churston of Churston Ferrers and Lupton in 1858), to the designs of George Wightwick. In 1862 further alterations, since demolished, were made to the designs of Anthony Salvin,[1] who in 1826 had designed Mamhead House for the first baron's father-in-law, Sir Robert William Newman.[10]

Descent of the manor

Domesday Book

The manor of Lupton was listed as Lochetone in the Domesday Book of 1087 and formed one of the 107 Devonshire holdings of Juhel of Totnes, within his feudal barony of Totnes. Before the Norman Conquest of 1066 it was held by the Saxon Otre (Othere).[11]


Arms of "Peniles of Luckton" (sic), according to Sir William Pole (d.1635): Argent, on a chevron azure three fishes or.[12]

Lupton later became a seat of the Peverell family, which according to the Devon historian Tristram Risdon (d. 1640) occupied it for ten generations.[13] Pole (d.1635) called this family "Peniles" of "Luckton (which) lieth in this parish of Brixham".[14] Vivian (1895) called them "Pennells".[15] John Peverell (alias Pennells, Peniles, etc.) was the last of the male line and his heir was his sister, Agnes Peverell (or Pennells, etc.), wife of John Upton of Puslinch,[15] the descendants from which marriage thus inherited the manor. Pole gave the arms of "Peniles of Luckton" as "Argent, on a chevron azure three fishes or".[16] These arms are visible as the 4th of 8 quarterings of the arms of Sir William Strode (1562–1637) of Newnham on his mural monument in St Mary's Church, Plympton St Mary.


Arms of Upton: Sable, a cross flory argent[15]

The ancient family of Upton originated at the Cornish manor of Upton.[15] A notable member of this family was Nicholas Upton[17] (1400? – 1457), English cleric, precentor of Salisbury, and writer on heraldry and the art of war.


Arms of Hayne: Or, on a fess invected azure a rose argent seeded of the first barbed vert between two plates in chief a greyhound courant sable[20]

Charles I Hayne (d.1769), Sheriff of Devon and Colonel of the 4th Battalion Devon Militia, of Lupton and Fuge House in the parish of Blackawton[21] in Devon, was the eldest son and heir of Cornelius Hayne (d.1733) who had inherited Lupton from his Upton ancestors. His son and heir was Charles II Hayne (1747-1821), Sheriff of Devon in 1772 and Colonel of the North Devon Militia, who inherited from his father Lupton and Fuge.[22] The Hayne family had come to prominence in the person of John Hayne (d.1671) (grandfather of Cornelius Hayne), a merchant at Dartmouth during the reign of King Charles I (1625-1649), who had "acquired by inheritance and purchase various properties in Devon".[23]

Charles II Hayne was only 22 when he inherited Lupton in 1769 and he built Lupton House which largely survives today. He did not marry but lived there alone for about twenty years.[24] In 1788 he sold Lupton to Judge Francis Buller and made Fuge House his principal residence. He died in 1821, having bequeathed Fuge House to his great-nephew Charles I Seale-Hayne (d.1842) (on condition he should adopt the additional surname of Hayne), the second son of Sir John Henry Seale, 1st Baronet (1780–1844), of Mount Boone, Dartmouth, the son of his sister Sarah Hayne.[23] The son of Charles I Seale-Hayne was Charles II Seale-Hayne (1833-1903), Member of Parliament for Ashburton in Devon (1885-1903) and Paymaster-General (1892-1895), who by his will founded Seale-Hayne College near Newton Abbot in Devon.


Sir Francis and Lady Susanna Buller

Lupton House, 1793 watercolour by Rev John Swete titled: "Lupton, seat of Sir Francis Buller"

Sir Francis Buller, 1st Baronet (1746-1800) of Churston Court and Lupton, was the third son of James Buller (1717-1765) of Morval in Cornwall and of Downes, Crediton and of New Place, King's Nympton in Devon, a Member of Parliament for East Looe in Cornwall (1741-7) and for the County of Cornwall (1748-1765). Francis Buller's mother was Lady Jane Bathurst, his father's second wife, a daughter of Allen Bathurst, 1st Earl Bathurst. Morval, the most ancient Buller seat, and Downes, were inherited by his father's eldest son from his first marriage, and thus Francis as a younger son, had to make his own fortune. The Buller family had a history of service in politics, church and law. Francis was an excellent student and at the age of seventeen he entered the Inner Temple to study law. In the same year he married Susanna Yarde, six years his senior, daughter and heiress of Francis Yarde of Churston Court, one mile north of Lupton House. He began practicing law at age 19 and was immediately successful.[25] Aged 32, he became a judge and in 1789 he was made a baronet. Judge Buller also had a residence on Dartmoor known as Prince Hall[26] where he was a pioneer of moorland reclamation.[27] In 1788 Francis bought Lupton House. He immediately began an extensive program of planting and landscape improvement. Rev. John Swete visited the house in 1793 and painted the property as shown above. He noted that the north drive passed through 'newly planted grounds' and 'a most luxuriant shrubbery' which included a variety of flowering shrubs.[28]

Francis died in 1800 and his son, also named Francis, inherited Lupton house. Francis the younger incorporated his mother's maiden name into his surname, and thus became known as Sir Francis Buller-Yarde-Buller, 2nd Baronet. He married Elizabeth Hallidat. The couple did not live at Lupton House and for some years it was let. The baronet's son and heir was John Yarde-Buller, 1st Baron Churston (1799-1871), who made extensive improvements to the property to the design of George Wightwick, in 1860 by royal licence dropped the first "Buller" from the family surname.[29]

Sir John Yarde-Buller 1st Baron Churston and Lady Elizabeth Yarde-Buller

Sir John Yarde-Buller.

John Yarde-Buller was born in 1799 in Staffordshire. He was educated at Oxford and in 1834 was elected to Parliament as the member for South Devon. He held this position for about 20 years. In 1823 he married Elizabeth Wilson-Patten, the daughter of Thomas Wilson-Pattern, a wealthy land owner. The couple had two children John and Bertha.[30]

In 1833 John inherited Lupton house and some years later made significant changes to the house and garden. A notice appeared in 1841 in a local newspaper;

“The recent alterations and improvements at Lupton, the splendid residence of Sir J Yarde Buller having been completed the Honourable Baronet has again returned to it with all of his establishment." [31]

These alterations were made by George Wightwick, a well-known architect. Twenty six plans exist of the additions that he made to the house.[32] The entrance to the house was moved from the south to the west side and a Doric porte-cochere was added. A Tudor Gothic lodge was also added to the property. At the same time formal gardens and terraces were constructed to the south and east of the House. A new south drive was constructed, and cedars and pines planted in the park.[33]

Wightwick also designed the stables, conservatory and kennels as plans also exist for these structures. At about the same time Samuel Cook the artist was commission to paint, in the staircase on the walls, the views that were immediately outside the house.[34] Further remodeling of the house was made by John in 1860 when he commissioned Anthony Salvin to make more additions.

James Veitch, landscape designer for Lupton House.

It seems that two famous designers were involved in the laying out of Lupton Gardens in 1840 – James Veitch and George Wightwick. The Italian gardens appear to have been at least partially designed by George Wightwick as a detailed coloured plan exists in his portfolio, “Design for the Italian gardens, Lupton House, near Brixham: general plan and elevation and section of balustrade on its dwarf wall”. An online copy of this plan is given at this reference.[35]

Ordnance Survey Map of Lupton House in 1869 showing the garden as described

A very graphic description of the whole garden was given in a garden journal in 1869. This article states that James Veitch designed the gardens, road and the kitchen garden. Some of the highlights of the garden outlined in this two part magazine feature are as follows:

"The garden is bounded and likewise partially divided round the centre with a strong balustraded wall furnished with iron supports and chains drooping between the uprights. These chains prove capital training places for creepers and are well covered. The whole garden is carried out on a level with the base of the mansion. It is laid out on a solid basis of gravel and granite walks, the chief paths being edged with stone. The figure is very simple – a square cut into two by a centre walk which converges upon a fountain, the fountain itself being picked out upon the inner line of the semicircle that completes the boundary of the garden. The secondary arrangements as they may be termed or the dividing of these spaces into beds harmonise well with the general outline, architectural position and character of the garden."[36]

The second part of the feature describes the kitchen garden in the following terms:

“The garden is divided into two portions – the fruit garden and the vegetable garden; good wide slips of ground are also carried all round outside the walls for cultural purposes and a nice young orchard of thriving trees occupies a space between the garden and a public road. The ground in the fruit garden has been made almost if not quite level that in th vegetable garden has a regular and even fall. Immense quantities of earth had to be moved to secure these forms of surface and it was turned to account thus:- At the boundary of the fruit garden a thick retaining wall was built; in front of this the back wall for a range of glass running right across the garden was built leaving room for fruit rooms, sheds stoke holes etc. between the two walls. All the spare earth was thus used to fill up the space between the two walls and to carry a terrace walk right across the garden, eight or ten feet above the vegetable ground."[37]

John died in 1871 and his grandson inherited the property as John's only son had predeceased him.

John Yarde-Buller, 2nd Baron Churston and Lady Barbara Yarde-Buller

Lupton House circa 1900.

John Yarde-Buller owned Lupton for about 40 years from 1871 until his death in 1910. He was born in 1846 and until his inheritance served in the Scots Guards. After he became 2nd Baron Churston in 1871 he resigned from the military and concentrated on his estate. He married Barbara Yelverton, daughter of Admiral Sir Hastings Reginald Yelverton. They had three children, the youngest of whom, Giles, died of pneumonia at Lupton House in 1900, aged 24.

After John inherited his grandfather's property he became interested in local community affairs. He was President of the Churston Cricket Club and Torquay Club and it was mainly through his efforts that the Churston Golf Club was established. He was also a keen yachtsman and belonged to the Royal Yacht Squadron.[38] He was a friend of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George and Queen Mary) and was a member of the house party that entertained them at Ugbrooke Park when they visited Devon in 1899. John died in 1910 and his son, John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller inherited Lupton House.

John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baron Churston and Lady Jessie Yarde-Buller

John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller.
Jessie Smither

John was born in 1873. He was educated at Winchester and after this he served for many years in the Scots Guards. A photo of him in this uniform is shown on the right. He served in the Boar War and was awarded the Queens Medal. Later he was Aide-de Camp to the Viceroy of India and the Duke of Connaught.[39]

In 1907 at the age of 36 he married Jessie Smither, an actress whose stage name was Denise Orme. When they married the newspapers reported the event. After the death of his father in 1910, John inherited Lupton House. John and Jessie had six children, including Joan Yarde-Buller, who, in 1936, married Prince Aga Khan in Paris. In 1926, a very serious fire in the house occurred and the third story had to be removed as it was so badly damaged. Much of the fine paneling and decorative plasterwork were lost. John died in 1930 and his son, Richard Yarde-Buller, inherited the property. He owned it until 1960 but during that time it was mostly rented out as he did not live there. In 1943 both the house and land were requisitioned by the military. The estate played a major role in the support and training of the U.S. Infantry in their preparations for Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings.[40]

Modern history

In 1926 much of the interior was destroyed by fire, and the house was rebuilt, but with the top floor omitted.[1] During World War II the house and grounds were used by American forces. Following the war it became a hotel and then housed successively three schools, Fenton School, Lupton House School, and, between 1990 and 2004, Gramercy Hall School.[41]

In 1960 the property was acquired by Rowland Smith (d. 1979), proprietor of Rowland Smith Motors in Hampstead, North London, and of the Palace Hotel in Torquay, and who in 1949 had purchased as his country residence nearby Coleton Fishacre House.[42]

In 2008 the Lupton Trust was established which currently uses the house and grounds for a variety of commercial activities, mainly concerning community groups, charities and social enterprises, all designed to assist in financing a restoration.[43]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, pp. 829, 833 ISBN 978-0-300-09596-8
  2. Risdon, Tristram (d. 1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, UK (1811 list of sheriffs, p. 15)
  3. Gramercy Hall School, Lupton House profile,; accessed 19 April 2014.
  4. Lupton House profile, Parks & Gardens UK; accessed 21 April 2014.
  5. Historic England. "Lupton Park (1000696)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  6. Swete, vol 1, p. 88, written in Rev. Swete's journal of 1792
  7. Gray, Todd & Rowe, Margery (eds.), Travels in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of Reverend John Swete, 1789-1800, 4 vols, Tiverton, 1999, vol 1, p. 88
  8. Prince Hall profile,; accessed 19 April 2014.
  9. Swete, vol 1, p. 91
  10. ,; accessed 19 April 2014.
  11. Thorn, Caroline & Frank (eds), Domesday Book, (Morris, John, general editor), vol IX, Devon, Parts 1 & 2, Phillimore Press, Chichester, 1985, pages 1, 17, 28
  12. Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.496
  13. Risdon, Tristram (d. 1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, 1811, p.158
  14. Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.283
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Vivian, Lt. Col. J.L., (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pedigree of Upton, pp. 743-744
  16. Pole, p.496
  17. Risdon, p. 158
  18. History of Parliament biography here
  19. Vivian, p. 459, pedigree of Haydon; p. 744, Upton
  20. Burke, Sir Bernard, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain, Vol.I, London, 1871, p.605, pedigree of "Seale-Hayne of Fuge House and Kingswear Castle"
  21. Pevsner, p.186
  22. Street, John. A Genealogy of the Rouses of Devon (2002), p. 72.
  23. 1 2 Burke, 1871, p.605
  24. Burke, Sir Bernard, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain, Vol.I, London, 1871, p.605, pedigree of "Seale-Hayne of Fuge House and Kingswear Castle"
  25. James Oldham, "Buller, Sir Francis, first baronet (1746–1800)" profile, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required)
  27. Swete, vol 1, p.91
  28. "Lupton Park", English Heritage online reference here
  29. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of Cornwall: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1530, 1573 & 1620; with additions by J.L. Vivian, Exeter, 1887, p.60, note 1
  30. The Illustrated London News, 16 September 1871, p. 259; online reference here
  31. Morning Post, Friday 19 November 1841, p. 3.
  32. Royal Institute of British Architects. Online reference
  33. English Heritage, "Lupton Park" entry; online reference here
  34. Plymouth Institution and Devon and Cornwall Natural History Society, 1881 Annual Reports and Transactions, p. 393; online reference here
  35. Royal Institute of British Architects website,; accessed 19 April 2014.
  36. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 13 March 1869, p. 281; online reference here
  37. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 20 March 1869, p. 309; online reference here
  38. The Western Times, 1 December 1910, p. 4.
  39. Hull Daily Mail, Saturday 19 April 1930, p. 1.
  40. Powling, Margaret, "Lupton House and Its Secret Garden”, Savista Magazine, February 1914.
  41. "The History of Lupton",; accessed 19 April 2014.
  42. ,; accessed 19 April 2014.
  43. "The Project",; accessed 19 April 2014.
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Coordinates: 50°23′05″N 3°32′42″W / 50.3847°N 3.5449°W / 50.3847; -3.5449

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