Arlington Court
Barnstaple  North Devon

Arlington Court has been the family home of the Chichester family since its construction in 1820. The main house was enlarged by the addition of the staircase hall and servants wing in 1865.

The National Trust acquired the house and its accompanying estate in 1949 upon the death of Miss Rosalie Chichester. The house is renowned for its collection of  model sailing ships, and the stables which has a collection of horse drawn carriages.

The original heating system installed in the house was a Perkins HPHW type system. This is the first Perkins heating system to be discovered in any National Trust property by the Heritage Group, and was probably installed when the staircase hall was added. Sadly, the majority of the distribution pipework has been removed. However, fortunately two items from the original system still remain which are of great interest and rarity.
For more information about the Perkins family and HPHW heating system. 

Firstly the original iron cased furnace (which was fired by solid fuel), still complete with its refractory brickwork lining and pipework coil is to be found in its original position in a basement room. The furnace was made by the Liverpool firm of Renton Gibbs who was a major manufacturer and installer of Perkins heating systems in the late 19th century. A check made in the Renton Gibbs reference list of contracts dated 1898, shows an entry for Sir Bruce Chichester Arlington Court Barnstaple. Why the Chichester family employed a Liverpool firm for the installation of the Perkins heating system when there were local firms installing Perkins systems must remain conjecture.
For more information about the firm of Renton Gibbs. 


A view taken looking forwards and down into the furnace showing both the pipework coils around the furnace and also the refractory brickwork.

Secondly, either side of the main staircase are two beautifully decorated ornamental cast iron heater enclosures each covering a Perkins spiral type heater coil. These Perkins heater enclosures are the first to be found by the Heritage Group and are wonderful examples showing the Victorian craftsmanship in casting metalwork.

The current wet heating system most likely dates from the very early 20th century, and is fitted with a variety of cast iron column radiators. One small size sectional radiator fitted in the Music Room is a cast iron Ornamental pattern of Rococo design manufactured by the American Radiator Company. This would date the system to the first decade of the 20th century.

JULY  2005