This week’s local history article is somewhat of a milestone as it is the 60th article I have written for the Journal.

What started out as a one-off piece on the very earliest beginnings of what was to become Exmouth has grown into a regular column that I know from your feedback is much valued and for that I thank you. It is always a pleasure to write on the town I grew up in and that of my late mother, Pauline’s family (The Clapp family of Clapp’s Café) who first came to Exmouth in 1863. As long as there is a demand for local history, I will do my best to keep writing these articles and hope you all continue to enjoy them as you have so far.

In Victorian and Edwardian times Exmouth had several substantial country houses, and while not on the scale of say Marpool Hall, Marley House or Bystock, were nevertheless still large houses and have interesting histories.

Travel up Withycombe Village Road past the church and opposite the parade of shops there is Burnside Road, which is shaped a little like a horseshoe, and this once led to a large country house called Nutbrook.

This was a substantial house built with exterior rendering and a slate roof. The ground floor consisted of an entrance hall 20 ft x 12 ft, drawing room, 15ft x 17ft, dining room 15 ft x 17ft, morning room, lounge 20 ft x 10 ft, conservatory, cloakroom and WC, butler’s pantry, a further pantry, kitchen and scullery, a large coal store, larder and WC. There were two staircases. One was to a mezzanine floor which had a bathroom and WC, two bedrooms and as linen cupboard and the other to the first floor which had a landing and five bedrooms. On the second floor was the attic, three bedrooms and laundry. Outside there was a shed, small summer house, two greenhouses, garden store, boiler house, a further large greenhouse  and two garages.

As there is no reference to Nutbrook on any census until 1861, it is presumed it was built shortly before then. In the 1861 census it is owned and occupied by Mary Gilbert, 61, landowner, her two children, Mary, 21, Henry, 26, and granddaughter Mary Gilbert, 5. She employed two servants, Mary Westcombe, 24 and Emma Smith, 20. In 1871 she was still resident with her daughter Mary, 28, Lydia, 46, daughter-in-law, granddaughter Mary, 15 and grandson Edmund, 7. They employed a cook, Jane Bennett, 26 and housemaid, Jane Sandercock, 26.

By the time of the 1881 census Mary Gilbert,71, has moved across the road to the Vicarage where she is living with her daughter Mary H Nicholls, 48 and her husband Henry, 50. They employ a cook, Emma Maria Coppleton, 67. Nutbrook is now occupied by Charles J Strong, 66, a clergyman, his wife, Ann, 79, and a cook, Nancy Canterbury, 34 and a housemaid, Jane Elise Murphy, 19. In the 1891 Census it is just Charles Strong living at Nutbrook  with a cook, Rachel White, 68 and a housemaid, Rose Jarman, 15.

What happened to Nutbrook after 1891 is unknown as there is no further reference to it in any census. Whether the Stanley family bought it as well as Burnside is unknown. The only clue being that when the valuation of Burnside took place in 1948, Nutbrook was also valued with it. At that time it was noted that Nutbrook was in need of considerable repairs and its interior was described as 'in fair to poor condition'. This was reflected in the valuation of £11,500. It was eventually demolished to make way for the Burnside housing development in the 1950s. I would be delighted to hear from any of you who can provide more on Nutbrook.

In the meantime, you can find out more about Exmouth Museum by visiting or email Mike at