Heritage Open Days – County Hall Tour

For national Heritage Open Days 2014 there will be a tour of County Hall, including Bellair and the grounds. The tour will be at 11am on Saturday 13th September, starting from the Main Reception steps and will finish at around 12:30pm. More info can be found on the Heritage Open Days website.

County Hall Tour2014 is the 50th anniversary of County Hall officially opening its doors for business. From the creation of Devon County Council in 1889, until 1964, the authority had been based at Rougemont Castle in Exeter. During this time it had amassed a variety of outstations throughout the city, including the houses of Coaver and Bellair, which were occupied by the County Planners and Surveyors. The process of design and construction took 12 years, from the purchase of land in 1952, to the formal opening on 14th July 1964. Initially this was at a time of post-war austerity, when new local government building projects were approved only in exceptional circumstances.

The brief was fairly loose, with the Chairman of the Council, Sir George Hayter Hames, requesting ‘a building as modern as possible in its arrangement and engineering, but not too much, as it should not clash too severely with its surrounding buildings or pleasant rural setting…I think we want something really attractive and graceful’. The architect who won the tender was Donald Hanks McMorran (1904-1965), who was a progressive classicist at a time when modernism was all the rage. You only have to compare County Hall with its contemporary, the Civic Centre in Plymouth, to spot the difference in style!

County Hall is a Grade 2* Listed Building because of the quality of its architecture. Bellair dates to the early 1700’s and is Grade 2* Listed in its own right. The grounds form part of the St. Leonards Conservation Area.

Booking is essential. Booking opens: 1 September 2014 10:00am. Booking will be available Mon-Fri 1000-1600. For booking contact Bill Horner (Devon County Archaeologist) –  email: bill.horner@devon.gov.uk or call: 01392 382494.