Author condemns demolition plan

Loss of historic homes in Honiton a ‘terrible concept’, says Terry Darrant.

Terry Darrant, who wrote historical book Honiton - A Glimpse Back, has spoken out against plans to demolish two homes in the town.

Holyshute House and Holyshute Cottage, in Monkton Road, could be flattened to make way for a complex of retirement apartments.

“I think it is a terrible concept that these two properties could be demolished,” he said.

“There are only three of the Honiton tollhouses left and, originally, Holyshute House had over 15 acres of surrounding ground that has already been built on (The Chase and Langford Avenue).”

Mr Darrant has conducted research into the history of Holyshute House and has provided the following information:

The house took its name from the Holy Shute spring that lies in the grounds. In 1941, John S Amery wrote that “presumably there was a holy well in Honiton, the water from which is now conveyed by means of a shute through the wall of the grounds of Holyshute House”.

Most Read

This spring is reputed to have had medicinal qualities and was once frequented by invalids. In a New Scientist publication of 1965, commenting on the construction of the Honiton bypass, it was stated that “the presence of a nearby mineral spring called the Holy Shute suggests that the region was once a swamp and animals were fatally bogged down as they came to drink”. The bones of the hippos and elephants found during the bypass construction were said to have “probably had some connection” to this spring.

Some of the past residents of Holyshute include Daniel Garrett, who was a Commissioner of His Majesty’s Customs. He lived in the house in about 1820 and his daughter married a son of Sir Edward Thornbrough, a British Admiral involved in the American Revolution’s Battle of Bunker Hill. A John Harvey Danby, who worked in the Bengal Indigo Trade and whose grandson became Dean of Salisbury until 1907, also lived there.

Captain John Sackville Swann lived in the house in the 1870s. He was a retired Army Captain from the 22nd Foot. He became a Major in the 1st Devonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, was Mayor of Honiton in 1875 and wrote Notes of the Discovery of a Roman Villa at Holcombe.

The house was later occupied by William Every, who was a senior partner of local law firm Everys solicitors. After his death in 1906 ,the house was occupied by Henry Rundle, a partner in another local law firm, Dunning, Rundle and Stamp. Mr Rundle lived there until his death in 1942.

The house was owned by the Halse family in more recent years.