Building of the month: The Old Vicarage, 13 Weech Road, Dawlish

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The potential repair of these beautiful but sadly neglected structures in Devon is a long running SPAB case. We are increasingly concerned at their rapid deterioration; in June 2021 part of the roof over the 17th-century bay collapsed. Unless urgent action is now taken to help these listed buildings, the situation will become critical.


The building in 2020. Credit Pete Taylor

About the building 

The Old Vicarage is formed of two ranges; one dating from the late 17th/early 18th century and the attached Victorian wing. The ground floor to the earlier range is built of stone, the upper floor of cob. The Victorian range is of stone construction. At the rear of the site is a detached building known as The Gig House (part stables, part carriage store), which is also constructed from cob and was originally thatched. The condition of these structures is very poor.

The early range of the Old Vicarage is particularly significant; it is unusual for cob to be used to construct such a formal building. It has a very symmetrical appearance with regularly spaced architectural features including the bays of mullion and transom windows. The building has evolved and undergone numerous changes over the years as demonstrated by the addition of the Victorian range. The Gig House is a good example of a 17th/18th century ancillary structure, which forms part of this grouping. Despite the deterioration of the fabric of all three structures, they maintain their special interest as demonstrated by their Grade II listing.  

The Vicarage was sold to the Great Western Railway Company in 1939 and was subsequently converted to both offices and staff accommodation. The building was later returned to domestic use but has now been vacant for decades.  


The house in the early 20th century. Image supplied by Mike Trigger, Dawlish Nub News

Why is this happening? 

There have been several applications proposing complete demolition or significant loss of historic fabric, two of which have been dismissed at appeal. Despite enforcement notices from the local authority, no works to protect the structures have been undertaken by the owners resulting in the unnecessary loss of more historic fabric. 


What’s next? 

Our casework team have been working with the local authority to support their efforts to help the building. Providing the right protection and ensuring the buildings are weathertight will allow more time for suitable options to be explored and developed while minimising any further losses and harm.

The work required to prevent total loss of this listed building, one of the oldest in Dawlish, will now need to be dealt with by serving a Repairs Notice, which – if not complied with – could lead to the compulsory purchase of the building and its associated land.

We hope that two SPAB contacts, specialist conservation architects, will help the local authority prepare the detailed specification of works needed to repair the building.

In addition, funding has been released by the local authority to make the site safe and secure. It is hoped – but not yet agreed – that Historic England will agree to underwrite the costs the local authority will incur in serving the Repairs Notice.  

The building in 2020. Credit Pete Taylor

How to get involved 

The local authority plans to work alongside the Devon Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT) and the local community to secure a positive future for the site. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact the DHBT at 

Is there an old building (pre-1720) that you're concerned about? Get in touch.


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