Stonehouse, Plymouth

Coordinates: 50°22′15″N 4°09′45″W / 50.370833°N 4.1625°W / 50.370833; -4.1625
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Stonehouse from Mount Edgcumbe
Stonehouse is located in Devon
Location within Devon
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtPL1 3xx
Dialling code01752
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
List of places
50°22′15″N 4°09′45″W / 50.370833°N 4.1625°W / 50.370833; -4.1625

East Stonehouse was one of three towns that were amalgamated into modern-day Plymouth. West Stonehouse was a village that is within the current Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall. It was destroyed by the French in 1350. The terminology used in this article refers to the settlement of East Stonehouse which is on the Devon side of the mouth of the Tamar estuary, and will be referred to as Stonehouse.


Settlement in the area goes back to Roman times and a house made of stone was believed to have stood near to Stonehouse Creek. However other stories relate to land owned in the 13th century by Robert the Bastard. This land subsequently passed from the Durnford family, through marriage, to the Edgecombe family in the 14th and 15th centuries. The site of the original settlement of Stonehouse is now mostly occupied by the complex of Princess Yachts.[1]

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the areas of Emma Place and Caroline Place were home to many of the west country's top-ranking admirals, doctors and clergy. Those streets together with Millbay Road used to form Plymouth's red light district. Union Street, originally built across marshland, was for almost a century the centre of the city's night life with about a hundred pubs, a music hall and many other attractions. Much of it was destroyed by bombing in World War II. After the war the area between Union Street and the dock has been used by small factories, storage, car dealers and repairers. For decades it remained underdeveloped compared with other parts of Plymouth.[2]

Administrative history[edit]

Stonehouse was historically a chapelry of the parish of Plymouth St Andrew's, covering the part of the parish which lay outside Plymouth's borough boundaries. Stonehouse was made a separate parish in 1746.[3] The parish of East Stonehouse was made a local government district in 1872, governed by a local board.[4] Such local boards were reconstituted as urban district councils in 1894.[5]

East Stonehouse Urban District was abolished in 1914, being absorbed into the county borough of Plymouth, along with neighbouring Devonport.[6] East Stonehouse remained a civil parish until 1974, but as an urban parish it had no practical functions, being directly administered by Plymouth Corporation.[7]

Notable buildings[edit]

Significant buildings include the Royal William Victualling Yard,[8] the Royal Marine Barracks, Stonehouse[9] and the Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse.[10] Of these three defence complexes only the Barracks remain in Naval possession.[9]

During the reign of Henry VII defences at the mouth of the Tamar were strengthened by the building of cannon-bearing towers. One of these, the Artillery Tower at the sea end of Durnford Street, has been preserved and is now a restaurant.[11]

Two of the surviving buildings close to the dock at Millbay are the red brick Portland stone-faced Georgian assembly room that is still called the Long Room, and the exquisite late Georgian or early Victorian Globe Theatre 300 metres north within the barracks.[12]

On the higher ground towards North Road are two major churches. Firstly the Anglican St Peter's with its tall spire in the centre of Georgian style Wyndham Square. A few hundred metres east is the mid Victorian Roman Catholic cathedral of St Mary and St Boniface (1858).[13]

During 1882, Arthur Conan Doyle worked as a newly qualified physician at 1 Durnford Street, East Stonehouse. Plaques bearing passages from his works featuring Sherlock Holmes have since been set into the pavement in Durnford Street.[14]


Between 1993 and 1998 the part of Stonehouse to the west of Durnford Street (including the Royal William Victualling Yard) was designated as one of the three areas of the city under control of Plymouth Development Corporation. Gradually affluent residents are moving back into the district which has been comparatively poor since the Great War. Durnford Street is being regentrified. The former Naval Hospital (adjacent to the Millfields – formerly part of Stonehouse Creek) is a gated community with security guards.[15] However, Royal William Yard, also a walled site, welcomes the public freely (apart from car parking charges) to its increasing number of food outlets, and has part of the South West Coast Path running through it, using a staircase specially constructed in 2013.[16] In 2013 a marina was opened within Millbay Docks.[17]

On Stonehouse Creek, a branch of the Tamar, off the estuary known as the Hamoaze are the modern shipbuilding sheds occupied by the luxury motor-yacht firm Princess Yachts who employ hundreds of local tradesmen to construct and fit out expensive vessels.[1] The creek now ends at Stonehouse Bridge (for many years a toll bridge) and to the north east the wide river bed which led up past Millbridge to Pennycomequick and beyond to the bottom of Ford Park Cemetery, was reclaimed and infilled in 1973[18] to provide the playing fields of Victoria Park and rugby pitches for Devonport High School for Boys.[19]

Stonehouse is the site of Plymouth's international ferry port at Millbay with at least daily sailings to Roscoff in Brittany (except in winter) and frequent ferries to Santander in northern Spain.[20]

There is a regular passenger ferry from the tidal landing Admiral's Hard to Cremyll in Cornwall which is used by visitors to the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, and commuters to Plymouth.[21]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sailing out of Plymouth loaded to the gunnels with luxury". The Telegraph. 29 August 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Is there any hope left for Union Street?". Plymouth Herald. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the local administrative units of England, Volume 1: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. p. 98. ISBN 0901050679.
  4. ^ Kelly's Directory of Devon and Cornwall. London. 1914. p. 497. Retrieved 13 August 2023.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ "Local Government Act 1894",, The National Archives, 1894 c. 73, retrieved 13 August 2023
  6. ^ "Local Government Board's Provisional Order Confirmation (No. 18) Act 1914" (PDF). The National Archives. Retrieved 30 December 2023.
  7. ^ "East Stonehouse Civil Parish / Chapelry". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Clarence Store Royal William Victualling Yard, Plymouth, City of Plymouth".
  9. ^ a b "Cuts could force Royal Marines from Stonehouse Barracks and hand site to developers". The Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Royal Naval Hospital". Pastscape. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Artillery Tower". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Royal Marine Barracks The Globe Theatre (1244645)". National Heritage List for England.
  13. ^ "History of The Plymouth Cathedral". Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface website. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  14. ^ "Walk 72 – Plymouth Waterfront Walk". Devon County Council. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Introduction". Millfields. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Stairway to Devon opens up at Plymouth's Royal William Yard". South West Coast Path. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  17. ^ "UK's first new marina in five years opens in Plymouth". Motor Boat and Yachting. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Ancient and Modern". Devonport High School. Archived from the original on 3 January 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  19. ^ Historic England. "Devonport High School for Boys (1386309)". National Heritage List for England.
  20. ^ "Contact details for reservations". Brittany Ferries. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Cremyll Ferry". Plymouth Boat Trips. Retrieved 26 February 2018.