Downes is lived in by Henry and Susan Parker. It has been home to the same family for over 330 years. It was originally built in 1692 by Moses Gould, a prosperous merchant from Exeter. His granddaughter Elizabeth married into the Buller family in 1739 when it became the seat of the Buller family until it was inherited by Henry’s mother, Rosemary Parker, in 1975.
The tours include all the main rooms in the house. The cosy sitting room contains panelling dating back to 1604 and displays 23 heraldic shields with the Coats of Arms of the Bullers and their families.
The Main Staircase is mentioned by Pevsner in his Buildings of England. There is a splendid ceiling above it with high relief plasterwork over beaten copper in the tradition of John Abbot’s work of 1681 in the Customs House in Exeter.
The family museum includes a painting of Henry Parker’s great-great uncle, Redvers Buller, winning his VC in the Zulu War when he personally saved three men from certain death. Visitors will also see Zulu shields and spears from the elite regiments of the Zulu army. Also on show are numerous presentations made to General Sir Redvers Buller following the relief of Ladysmith from the Boers in 1900 when he was Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in South Africa.
The tour takes in many stories of other members of the family depicted in portraits around the house, including that of Sir Jonathan Trelawny whose daughter married into the Buller family. He was one of the seven bishops locked up in the Tower of London in 1688 and who subsequently became the hero of the Cornish National Anthem for the refrain ‘And shall Trelawny die’.
We hope visitors will enjoy looking around a well loved and lived in house which is still very much a family home. Those who join the tour can also take a walk around the garden which commands wonderful views over the Creedy valley.
For tour information:
Group tours:Group Visits