Made largely from cob and stone and located in a prominent situation on the Shebbear village square in Devon, Tyrella House is now a private residence and is currently undergoing renovation.

Over the years as a retail outlet, the building has undergone many changes.
The current owners are in the middle of a 'leisurely' project to replace modern materials with appropriate lime plasters etc. If you would like to know more about the work please E-mail

Shop to lounge
Kitchen renovation
Built circa late 17c in the square of the Devon Village of Shebbear, Tyrella House one time grocers, dentist, butchers etc.

Tyrella House was the main village shop for Shebbear for many years.

We bought it in the summer of 1999 and the shop had been closed for about 8 years.

Despite being closed for so long, the fittings were still largely in place.

The image on the right was taken as we viewed the house in March 1999.

Unfortunately, we do not have any photos of the inside prior to this date.

Shebbear village shop

We soon made an exciting discovery. From behind the old peg board was this wonderful inglenook fire place.

Lyn removing the timber studs.

Unfortunately, the bread oven had long since been hidden behind stone used to reduce the opening size.

Inglenook fireplace uncovered

It didn't take long to take a sledge hammer to clearing the shop alterations to make it more homely.

This shows the lobby at the foot of the stairs being ripped out.

Shebbear village shop converted
Another view of the carnage that we had created. Shebbear village shop ripped out
This shows the tiny door into the snug. Once the only door into the snug, it was sealed when this photo was taken.

The opening has now been widened and a new Oak door made to the same style as what we believe is an original one upstairs. This is also the same as one in the Devil's Stone Inn across the road.

The cement plaster is now removed to allow the cob walls to 'breathe'. When the cement came off the front wall, the walls were streaming with damp but dried very quickly.

Tyrella House snug with new oak door

As can be seen from the pre-war image on the right, the front of the building had two doors and one central window.

The window was used to display goods for the shop and one door, long since obsolete was once used to access the the owners lounge via a cross passage. This lounge was now part of the shop.

Shebbear village shop 1930s

We realised that as there was no chance of the building being used as a shop again so we changed the two doors into windows and the window into a central door.

The image on the right shows one of the new windows fitted and still with the door in place.

On digging up the floor just inside the new window, we discovered that it was very wet indeed.

Water would literally run under the bricks from the back of the house to the front.

This was noted at the time to be dealt with at a later date.

Door opening replaced by a fixed window

Lots of years passed whilst work was carried out on other parts of the house.

The lounge was a store room and occasional dining room.

Eventually the time came when we were ready to bite the bullet and take on the major job of getting ourselves a lounge.

We decide that in order to make the most of the room, we need to remove the support pillar.

On closer inspection we discover that end of the one main timber is rotten with Death Watch and Wood Worm damage.

Perhaps half of the original timbers were seriously weakened by cracks.

Sadly, there was no option but to replace the whole of the ceiling timbers which were also the floor timbers for the bedroom above.

The bedroom had the original floor boards in place. These were in poor condition but salvageable with great care and skill.


Here is the cross section of the floor that we worked to.

It is known as a Hybrid floor, part limecrete, around the perimeter with modern concrete and PIR insulation boards in the middle.

The idea is to allow moisture to avoid being drawn into the walls, a common problem with old buildings with modern floors.
Hybrid limecrete and concrete floor plan in cross section
As there was going to be major work, we decided that it would be the right time to lift and relay the floor.

Hand digging is the only realistic option, so lots of hard graft in the mud sees the floor gradually removed.

The prop could then be taken out and replaced with a temporary acro prop.

Digging out a solid floor

The middle of the floor is dug out and shuttered as we are going for a hybrid limecrete floor with under floor heating (UFH).

The middle has a DPM but a loose lay clay insulation under the DPM helps to reduce the effects of capillary moisture being drawn into the walls too much.

Monte thinks the loose lay clay aggregate is just one big kitty litter.

Here is the concrete slab laid on top of the LECA clay insulating sub base. Waiting for this to cure and dry before insulation boards are laid.

Acro now in place.

With boards, laid, more DPM is laid and the under floor heating pipes are fitted and waiting for the next application of concrete.

The limecrete was laid around the outside of this once cured.

UFH wet pipes fitted

Sean Wheatley nearing the end of his work on laying the floor.

The limecrete mix has LECA aggregate almost the same as that used as the sub-base.

Limecrete mix being laid around the outside of a standard, modern  floor with DPM

The perimeter is complete and waiting for the slate flags to be fitted.

The perimeter is a little lower than the rest as we used lime as the fixing adhesive and needs to be thicker than a modern one which was used on the concrete.

Of course lime could have been used across the whole floor really to make life easier.

Hybrid limecrete floor showing lime perimeter

Building control confirmed this design is fine as we are not just replacing like with like, we are adding extra strength by putting in two main beams instead of the one that had been there for about 350-400 years. It would still be there if damp and worm had been kept at bay over the years.

So we gave this plan to Chippy Roli Jones who can now set to work after the floor cured.

Tyrella House lounge ceiling Oak timber plan

Work begins and all the floorboards are numbered and lifted.

The main timbers are removed. It is strange to have so much headroom and even stranger to have no floor to our bedroom.

Green Oak beams are prepared.

Roli has a good knowledge and understanding of cob as well as being a great chippy.

Roli also has a wicked sense of humour. I returned home to see the beams in place and was horrified at the height.

I found this sign on the far side after a few minutes of angst.

Replacement green oak beams have been fitted. The original mid 17c Yew floorboards had been lifted, numbered, worm damage removed and then carefully replaced.
The old ceiling timbers have been recycled back into the house as a new partition wall.
Now cleaned of the old black paint, the new studwork is now receiving lath on both sides.
With a little help from Dave, we complete the lath on the lounge side and is all ready for the first coat of haired lime mortar.

The other end of the room gets some cork boards fixed into the alcove.

The cork helps with improving thermal performance and reducing the chances of mould forming on the surface of a cold surface.

Lath has been plastered and the slate flagstones are being prepared for laying.


Everything is now painted and ready for the furniture to move in.