The house at Killerton

Killerton surrounded by winter mist.

The house at Killerton is now closed until further notice. We look forward to welcoming you back in the future, and while the house is closed read on to find out about its history.

A brief history of Killerton house

'There's no point in having a nice place like this unless we can get it full of people' - Sir Francis Dyke Acland, 1923

Sir Francis loved to use his home for large parties, with rooms full of people enjoying Killerton. This is still so today, after Sir Richard Acland donated Killerton to the National Trust in 1944, the house is still a place for people to enjoy the gift that the Acland's gave to everyone.

There has been a house on the site since 1610, however in the late eighteenth century this was replaced with a simple, well-proportioned rectangular two-storey house, designed by architect John Johnson. This house was to be a temporary residence for the family of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Baronet, until a grander residence could be built.

James Wyatt's design for a new house at Killerton circa 1772
James Wyatt designed a new house for Sir Thomas Acland at Killerton, Exeter, in 1772
James Wyatt's design for a new house at Killerton circa 1772

However, the building of this grand Palladian-style mansion met with many difficulties and was never finished. The temporary residence became the permanent family home and was greatly modified, with extra rooms added as the family grew and in the late 1890s electricity and heating added.

The final modification of Killerton came in 1924 when Sir Francis Acland, the 14th Baronet, had the entrance porch, which you enter through today, built.


Exploring Killerton house

Entrance Hall

Following a fire in 1924 Sir Francis, 14th Bt, rebuilt this as an open space suited to this large, hospitable family.

Feel at home in the Entrance Hall
A view into the entrance hall at Killerton, Devon
Feel at home in the Entrance Hall


Sir Charles, 12th Bt, built the study in 1900. Tenants and employees used the door at the far end so they would not disturb the household. Later generations used the study for more light-hearted activities including wood-turning, boat-building and darts.

Music Room

Originally the Dining Room, the room is named for the chamber organ installed for Lydia Acland, new wife of Sir Thomas, 10th Bt. They also added the bay window to make room for their family of ten children.

In the 1920s and 1930s this room was the centre of family life. Sir Francis and his family had breakfast and tea here, and gathered after dinner for music and conversation.

Killerton's atmospheric Music Room
The music room at Killerton, Devon
Killerton's atmospheric Music Room

The corridor

The long corridor runs through the house from the original front door. Hardly altered since 1778, it shows Johnson’s simple, elegant design.

Drawing Room

Sir Charles created this room for balls and grand functions, moving the front entrance away from here and opening out the front lobby into the adjoining room. However, the family used it properly only once.

Telling the stories of Killerton
Volunteer in the drawing room at Killerton
Telling the stories of Killerton


The library and the current dining room were the principal rooms in the original house. The library was the ‘Little Parlour’. It was so light that Henrietta Acland, the 9th Bt’s wife, considered putting paper panels over some of the windows.

You're welcome to choose a book and read it in the library
A view into Killerton's library, Devon
You're welcome to choose a book and read it in the library

Dining Room

The dining room was the ‘Great Parlour’ – the only room Johnson decorated elaborately, with a frieze and columns. Sir Charles added images of agricultural work and silhouettes of himself and his wife, Gertrude, to the ceiling.

A house party outside of the main entrance at Killerton, Devon

The Aclands left Killerton for you to enjoy 

The Acland family, who left the estate to the Trust in 1944, did so for the benefit and enjoyment of everybody. Find out more about the history behind the large estate, which includes 6,400 acres of land, 250 cottages and 18 farms.