WESTLEIGH PARISH

TORR HOUSE

Torr House is situated opposite and to the south of St Peter’s Church on the road to Trayhill.


The house is believed to be some 300 years old, and it is built on the site of the former manor of Westleigh. It is because of this that the house was known as Mandries and later Mandville until the mid-19th century when the name was changed to Torrville, in the 1920s the name was changed again to its present name, Torr House.


Until 1802, when the last of the Berry family died, Mandries was a working farm on the Berry Estate. When the Torr family inherited the Berry Estate, and renamed it the Torr Estate, Mandville (as the house was then known) remained as a tenant farm for a further 40 years. In 1841, when the tithe map was produced, the tenant farmer at Mandville was John Balsdon who was farming 125 acres to the east of the present Torr House up to the land of the former Vicarage (now known as The White Lodge) and the land around Westleigh House. John Balsdon’s outlying farm buildings at Mandville have been demolished, but the structure of his farm house can still be determined. It is clear that the present Torr House was two attached farm houses, and the present Torr Cottage, which is attached to Torr House, would have been stables, hay lofts, etc.


In 1835 the Rev John Henry Torr, who lived at Eastleigh Manor, but was Vicar of Westleigh and Lord of the Manor of Westleigh, died. His wife, Jane Torr, became Lord of the Manor of Westleigh, and in the 1840s moved to Mandville, renaming the property Torrville. At this time James Berry Torr, Mrs Torr’s eldest son, moved into Westleigh House, and the land previously farmed from Torrville was transferred to Westleigh House. In 1855 Jane Torr died, but James Torr remained at Westleigh House.


After Jane Torr’s death, the Torr family retained an interest in Torrville as Louisa, Jane Torr’s daughter, lived in the house with her husband, James R Andrews R.N. until 1878. Following James and Louisa Andrews, Torrville had a number of owners, but none stayed for a significant time.


In the 1920s the name of Torrville was changed to Torr House. No one family has stayed in Torr House through the generations but two former residents are still local. Mrs Pat Pilkington, whose father Capt. W.B. Churchill-Longman owned the property in the mid-1930s, still lives in Instow, while Mr and Mrs Clifford Dark who left in 1997 now reside in Alverdiscott. For a number of years before Mr and Mrs Dark bought the house it was owned by Mr and Mrs Percy Browne. While he lived in Ton House Mr Browne was the Conservative MP for the Torrington Division of Devon, and Chairman of Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd. The present owners are Thomas and Judith Lowry.


Architecturally Torr House is undistinguished as it is only two tenant farmhouses merged into one. However because it was two houses, and following a number of internal alterations, the house is spacious and well proportioned. There is a garden of about 3/4 acre to the south of the house mainly laid out to lawn with a number of flowering shrubs.


A History of a house by Thomas Lowr