A La Ronde
Exmouth  Devon

This unusal shaped 16 sided building is located near Exmouth in Devon with extensive views looking over the northern side of the River Exe estuary. The building was constructed in the 1790's  for the two Parminster sisters Mary and Jane, and became a property of The National Trust  in 1991.

Very little of the original Victorian heating system remains in the building. The system installed was a low pressure wet heating system with cast iron distribution pipework serving 5 box-ended pipe coil heaters. Sadly the only one of the pipecoil heaters to survive in the house can be seen in the Library. The other 4 heaters were removed and disposed of as recently as the 1970's.

The heating system is considered to have been installed during the 1860's or 1870's, by dating the style of the pipe heater and boiler.  Unfortunately all the records of the property which were held in the Devon County Record Office archives in Exeter were destroyed due to enemy action in WWII.

The one remaining heater is a 5 tier double row bottom fed
external socket pattern with rectangular box-ends

The  wrought or cast iron boiler which is of the "set into brickwork" pattern still remains untouched in a sub-basement room. The boiler appears to be of the type called "chambered with terminal end"  and has the name "Parkin & Sons  Exeter "  inscribed on the cast iron front plate.  This firm was still trading in 1939.

A most unusual item of equipment noted in the heating system is a cast iron socket & spigot heating pipe coil fitted under the timber seat in the Entrance Hall.  Note the purpose made timber chocks to act as supports. No similar type of heating coil has so far been found in any other National Trust property.

The original gas distribution pipework system with wall lights, complete with glass globes and mantles is still operational . Other replica gas lighting fittings have been added to the system to match with the original styles.

Two types of gas lamps
  - Pendant and Wall


On the North side of the building is a Cob and Thatch Barn. This building has the unusual feature of a rain water and ground water collection system.  Situated at both ends of the building are two large underground storage chambers which are inter-connected by a salt glazed balance pipe. Both storage chambers have a pre-chamber which was filled with coke presumably to act as some form of cleansing filter. The purpose of  the pre-chamber is unknown, so any suggestions about a possible reason would be welcomed by the Heritage Group.

The stored water was then pumped up to a header tank located at the top of the brick tower. The water was then fed by gravity being piped down into the property to supply items of sanitary equipment as was considered necessary.   

AUGUST  2004