Portledge and its owners


Portledge, a splendid example of 17th century architecture, is placed in a setting of great beauty and surrounded by a park noted for its loveliness. Parts of the house date back to earlier years, and the doorway which led into the old Great Hall has remained untouched since it was built about 1234. The 13th century arch of the chapel still stands and the Brew House is reminiscent of the days when hops were grown extensively on the estate. The old Great Hall has lost its Minstrel Gallery, which was moved over 100 years ago to Alwington Church, a lovely 15th century church containing many monuments to the Coffin family. The dining-room retains a   beautifully plastered ceiling which contains a fine example of heraldry. The courtyard was roofed in and made into a new hall in the middle of the 18th century. There are many pieces of fine old furniture, ancestral pieces, carved  stone coats of arms ,Spanish armour and Armada guns; priceless panelling and heavily studded doors There is also a belfry and a Spanish armada courtyard. It is also a constant reminder that in their day such famous men as Raleigh, Grenville and Sidney were visitors to Portledge.

The Coffin family is of Norman origin, the elder branch living at Coutitout near Falaise, Calvados at the time of the Conquest. It is believed that Richard was the first of the family to come to England with William the Conqueror and was granted land around Portledge about 1086. From then until 1766 there was nearly always a Coffin at Portledge. The charter granting Free Warren  over all the manor of Alwington, given to Sir Richard Coffin in 1454 is still in the possession of the family. The connection between the Pine and the Coffin families began with the marriage of Edward Pine and Dorothy Coffin at Alwington Church in 1671 .Their grandson ,Rev  John Pine inherited the estate and by Act of Parliament in 1797 assumed the name and arms of Coffin.The law at the time discriminated against females who were banned from inheriting property. In order not to lose the Coffin name off the inheritance it was decided to join the names as all the property had to go to the Reverend Pine. In 1642 the Coffin family went to the New World  so all the family members from there are still called Coffin.

Should anyone be interested in further information regarding the family ,I have published two books on the subject

These are:-

The Boer War diary of John Edward Pine- Coffin- One Man’s Boer war

and Coffin family letters 1600-2002. Both books are available from Walter Henry’s Bookshop making good presents at £15 each., or your local library.

Susan Pine -Coffin

The house is   no longer  owned by the Pine -Coffins and is now in private hands-  no part of the house or grounds is open to the public.

11 Responses to Portledge and its owners

  1. geoffrey E. Coffin says:

    I am still trying to contact present owner and arrange a visit………have been there about 10 years ago and want to return. If anyone knows of a contact there please email to me when you can. Thanx; Geoffrey Coffin (jed2coffin@gmail.com)

  2. Hugh Loxdale says:

    Dear Susan,

    I was interested to read your webpage, as above. I am trying to contact descendants of Lt. Col. John Trenchard Pine-Coffin. Any help would be gratefully received.

    With best wishes,

    Hugh D. Loxdale

  3. Nicole says:

    I have been researching my family line and Richard Coffyn is my 15th great grandfather. I would be interested in obtaining an image of the the charter granting Free Warren over all the manor of Alwington, given to Sir Richard Coffin in 1454. I am a descendant of the line through Tristram Coffyn who came to the USA. I live in Canada. I would also be interested in “Coffin family letters 1600-2002″ is there a way to obtain a copy or view it here in Canada?

  4. Gordon F. Coffin says:

    Hi from Canada. We are traveling over to visit our daughter who now works in London. We are making plans to travel to Bideford for a few days. Is there a place that we can do some family research?
    Thank you
    Gord Coffin
    Town of Kensington, P.E.I.

  5. James Noble says:

    I remember the first thing the new owner did in 98 was quietly fence over the public footpath that ran through the grounds to the beach. Was very disappointed as it was a lovely walk through the wood.

  6. Geoffrey E. Coffin says:

    Hello; I am so pleased to have visited Portledge and grounds 5-7years ago; Owner (I believe Mr Cannon) was away at the time however, caretakers allowed me free to walk the grounds……….I thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful afternoon there……walked to beach, swam in the ocean and allowed my mind to drift back hundreds of years to a time when my ancestors played and enjoyed all aspects of the property. I would like to return and visit the Manor House; anyone with info on how to contact Michael please get in touch with me; Thanx so much. GC

  7. M Curtice says:

    I grew up in Fairy Cross and when I was about 12years old, as my father worked on the grounds and gardens of the then hotel,we moved to a cottage located near the hotel.We later moved up to the lodge until father left the employment to move into Bideford. I appreciate the owners wish to retain privacy but now aged in my seventies would love to take a trip down memory lane where I spent many happy years. My dads younger brother also worked there as head gardener when it was a private house before Mr Hart took over and opened it as a hotel .
    It was during Mr P H Moselys reign that my father was employed

  8. Randy Coffin says:

    My wife and I are traveling to England in late May, early June 2013. I know the Portledge Manor is privately owned. Besides Portledge Manor, are there other things to see in the area related to the Coffin Family? We are considering travelling to Bideford and areas nearby.

  9. Buffy Ansett says:


    My mother and myself have been handed a few documents relating to our family history. We have been given information that puts us as descendants of Sir William Coffin. Alexander Thomas Coffin and Caroline Henrietta Bathurst came to Okains Bay, Akaroa, New Zealand on the ship called “the samarang” and had children in which are my mothers great great grandparents. We are very very much intrigued on our family history and would love to have some more information regarding the “coffin manor” or anyone else that is related.

  10. Maggie Hock says:

    I am a Coffin descendent and would like to visit Portledge Manor, how do I make contact with the owner? Thank you for your consideration.

  11. Mrs. Tammy Miller says:

    Rev. John Pine was my great Grandfather. Although I do have documentation, I would like to know more about my ancestors.

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