Discoveries from the Deverills, Part 7: Marvin’s: a good stone house
Following on from my last blog about the wealth of architectural detail found in the relatively humble village of Kingston Deverill, attention is turned to Marvin’s; a substantial mid-late 17th century rubblestone and flint house much altered and extended to the north. It is situated next to Humphrey’s Orchard, mentioned in my previous blog. Marvin’s Farm was known in 1887 as Newport’s Farm suggesting that this and Hedge Cottage, a building also mentioned in a previous blog and confusingly also known as Newports Farm, were linked in some way.
At the front of the house are two 3-light ovolo-moulded mullioned windows with hood moulds. The term ovolo comes from the Latin word for egg, and means a rounded convex shape. The way that the stone frame of a window is treated is very helpful in finding out how old it is. The very earliest stone frames in farmhouses and cottages were just simply chamfered inside and out to help allow light to penetrate the interior. From the late 16th century onwards the ovolo moulding appeared and was the universal shape for window frames, door frames and all sorts of moulded details until the beginning of the 18th century.
Marvin’s has been altered substantially, but retains a very good timber-framed stair with moulded finials to the newel posts. This sort of rather fiddly detail is very vulnerable to being lost, and it was fairly recently found that the staircase in the Merchant’s House, Marlborough, a town house with good 17th century details, once had moulded finials from the trompe-l’oeil, or painted mirror image discovered on the stair wall that had been recently uncovered. The below example is in the less-used attic and as a result has been left in peace.
Dorothy Treasure, Principal Buildings Historian, Wiltshire Buildings Record