The Parish records show that Mornacott dates back to 1286 and reference is made to Mornacott in the Doomsday Book although most of the current buildings are of 17th Century origin. Earlier occupation of Mornacott is however evidenced by the remains of a hill settlement atop one the many valleys which has been dated back to the 5th Century BC by English Heritage.
In 2006 the task was begun to restore Mornacott to its former glory.
The house and buildings, which had become run-down with many of the smaller buildings almost derelict, were the subject of a major rejuvenation project sympathetically undertaken with due regard to the English Heritage listing of many of the buildings.
Many of the previous repairs carried out to various of the buildings had been undertaken through expediency rather than with sympathy for their character and style and modern materials had been used to undertake many of the works. Softwood timber, cement based mortar and unsightly concrete blocks had been used to make good buildings in many areas and these were quickly replaced with natural materials, including oak sourced from the hitherto unmanaged and overstocked woodland at Mornacott together with traditional lime mortar and cob. Much of the stone used in these works came from the quarry on the land which had been unused for many years.
The works have also allowed the flexibility to adopt the best of modern technology and the house and associated cottages and buildings are now heated with bio-mass energy from woodchip fuel sourced, sustainably, entirely from the land.
The land area was increased to 650 acres through the purchase of several adjoining blocks and has also benefited from many reclamation works.
Five miles of overgrown hedgerows were re-laid in the traditional manner, 12 miles of fencing was replaced, 10 miles of ditches were cleared, 6,000 tonnes of stone was used to make good rutted and dysfunctional farm tracks and 236 field gates were replaced.
In conjunction with The Woodland Trust a planting programme was begun to create three new native broadleaf woods at Mornacott which will further enhance the land as they grow and mature over the forthcoming decades.
The River Yeo which bisects Mornacott was cleared of fallen dead trees alleviating much flooding at times of heavy rain and the old Tiverton to Barnstable railway line, closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960’s, was resurfaced as a farm access track.
In the early stages of undertaking these works an old droveway was unearthed which would have been used many years ago for driving sheep and cattle to nearby markets. With some financial assistance from Natural England this was reclaimed and now forms a convenient North to South access across many acres of farmland.
Much of the land at Mornacott has now been rejuvenated sufficiently to support a herd of over 250 Devon Red Ruby heritage cattle and a breeding flock of Poll Dorset ewes.
Today Mornacott looks much as it would have done in its heyday benefiting from the fabulous views which stretch from Exmoor to Dartmoor, classic North Devon plunging valleys and lush natural pastures in the most tranquil of settings yet conveniently close to the A361 North Devon Link Road.
With the passing of the centuries the change in farming practices required buildings of a different nature to the small barns that has been a feature of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries and the old buildings used as stables for the horses that worked the farm, storage for farm implements and feed became redundant.
Finishing in 2012 four of these were restructured to form the three holiday cottages and the entertaining barn that we have today. The cottages were further enhanced in 2014 with the addition of a luxurious 13 metre indoor pool and sauna located in a purpose build stone and timber clad building set under a natural slate roof.
Each of these unique buildings benefits from vaulted oak beamed ceilings with oak floors, staircases and external joinery in keeping with the traditional nature of Mornacott and no expense has been spared in the works that have served to make Orchard Cottage, Barn Cottage and The Old Stables amongst the most luxurious available.
Tastefully furnished with solid oak furniture and quality soft furnishings the cottages have the feel of the perfect home from home. In brief they offer the following accommodation:-
Orchard Cottage Four bedrooms (2 doubles and 2 twins/doubles with “zip and link” beds) all with ensuite bathrooms, large open plan living and dining area with wood burner and two main seating areas and an integrated kitchen area. Outside: large private terrace with barbeque and access to the orchard.
Barn Cottage Three bedrooms (1 double and 2 twins/doubles with “zip and link” beds), family bathroom and ensuite shower room, open plan kitchen dining area and separate “snug”. Outside: private garden with terrace and barbeque.
The Old Stables Three bedrooms (1 double and 2 twins/doubles with “zip and link” beds) two ensuite bathrooms and one ensuite shower room, large open plan living and dining area with integrated kitchen and downstairs cloakroom. Outside: large private terrace with barbeque.
And whilst many come to Mornacott to simply unwind and get away from it all there are a plethora of activities to make your stay enjoyable and interesting.
Many visitors choose to explore the wide open spaces of Exmoor National Park and the beautiful North Devon coastline with its many beaches and holiday activities but others welcome the opportunity to walk the varied paths and routes available at Mornacott just outside their back doors. Particularly popular with children are the opportunities to see and feed livestock and our evening “safaris” which help young people understand the countryside in an exciting and inclusive environment.
At appropriate times during the year we are happy to arrange “camera stalking” for the herd of up to 100 red deer that roam amongst the woodland at Mornacott and complement the huge abundance of wildlife in evidence in this wonderful area of the country.
“Foodies” too will not be disappointed. From our own natural water at the tap (delicately filtered but untreated with harmful chemicals) to our own meat that is counted in "food yards" as opposed to "food miles". We are usually able to offer packs of our own Ruby Red Devon beef for barbequing and to take home at the end of your stay in addition, at various times of the year, to our own lamb, sausages and bacon.