Palmer House, Great Torrington

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Palmer House, Great Torrington,Devon. in 2013
Stained glass in Palmer House, Great Torrington, showing arms of John Palmer[nb 1]

Palmer House is an historic residence in Great Torrington, Devon, England, built in 1752 by John Palmer, husband of author Mary Palmer.


Palmer House, which is Grade II* listed, was built in 1752 by John Palmer (later Sir), who was three times Mayor of Great Torrington, and brother-in-law to the famous artist Sir Joshua Reynolds.Reynolds stayed at the house on many occasions, where he painted the Palmers' daughters. Palmer House is unique in that unlike many Georgian properties from this period it retains many original features, which include fine ornate plaster ceilings, original marble and carved fireplaces, original mahogany doors and fine balustraded staircase. The house remained in the ownership of the Palmer family until the 1890s. During that time many famous people visited and stayed at the house. These include Dr. Samuel Johnson, who along with his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds, stayed at the house in 1762, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who had relatives in this area is also known to have visited Palmer House.


The Grade II* listed house is a three-storied building with the front facade made of red brick with Ionic pilasters. In the late 18th century, a wing was added to the back of the house. A gazebo that had been on the property is now located at Rosemoor Gardens in the same town. The 1st floor has a "plaster ceiling with Palmer arms and Ionic mantel." The Palmer arms is represented in stained glass on the half-landing of the staircase.[1]

Nikolaus Pevsner called it the "best house in town".[2] It has also been described as "a most interesting example of brickwork subordinated to a Palladian treatment of pilasters and cornice"."[3]


  1. ^ Arms of John Palmer: "Gules, three escallops", with crest: "A wyvern's head and neck couped", with inscription below: "J N Palmer". A palmer was an old term for pilgrim, and pilgrims to the shrine of St James at Compostella, Spain, distinguished themselves by wearing a scallop shell, the symbol of that saint


  1. ^ "Palmer House Including Garden Wall, Great Torrington". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  2. ^ Bridget Cherry; Nikolaus Pevsner (1991). The Buildings of England: Devon. YALE University Press ACADEMIC. pp. 461–462. ISBN 978-0-300-09596-8. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Palmer House. A new Chapter in its History". The Johnson Society: Dr. Samuel Johnson 1709-1784. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.

Coordinates: 50°57′10.08″N 4°8′41.64″W / 50.9528000°N 4.1449000°W / 50.9528000; -4.1449000