Stokesay Castle: Gatehouse

StokesayGH2

At the time of the compilation of the Domesday Book in 1086, Stokesay formed part of a prosperous estate called Stoches. An Anglo-Saxon word which suggests the presence of a cattle farm, Stoches was held by the Lacy family who became lords of Weobley and Ludlow. The first recorded tenants appear to have built a small keep with an adjacent hall (Jenkins, 2003). Dendrochronological evidence shows that building at Stokesay did not begin until after 1285 when the local wool merchant, Laurence of Ludlow, owned the rights of the manor – purchased some four year earlier. Laurence erected the impressive manor house with crenellated tower and built walls round an inner bailey. His family occupied Stokesay until 1598.

StokesayGH6

While Stokesay is a castle in name only, when the antiquary John Leyland passed through Shropshire in 1543 he described it as “buildid like a castel.” The title of Stokesay Castle only became common during the 16th and 17th centuries which no doubt reflected the social pretensions of its owners and as Alec Clifton-Taylor (1986) notes, “a castle was a good address.” Although a stone curtain wall was built to enclose Stokesay, the present gatehouse was not built until 1640. Nothing remains of the original gatehouse which was likely to have been of stone construction (Summerson, 2009). Unique to the Middle Ages, castles, or feudal residences, were more often than not lived in than fought over. Simple gate towers were in use throughout the medieval period, usually as secondary gates, and the ostentatious embellishment of gatehouses had their part to play from the 14th century onwards (Friar, 2003).

StokesayGH5   StokesayGH3

The widow of a former Lord Mayor of London, Dame Elizabeth Craven, purchased Stokesay in 1620. Her son William was a soldier who spent much of his time abroad and he made permanent alterations to the appearance of Stokesay between 1640 and 1641. The gatehouse timbers are dated between 1639-1641 – when William was busy with building work. Given the ornately decorated character, the gatehouse was not concerned with defensibility. The two storey gatehouse is half-timbered and features a central passageway with a studded door. The ground level walls are close studded with the first floor jettied out above. Carved along the lintel above the entrance is the biblical story of the fall of man with the trees of life and the knowledge of good and evil at each end. Adam and Eve appear on the ornately carved brackets flanking the entrance with others exquisitely depicting angels, acanthus leaves and dragons. “A real touch of the Renaissance – what fun those craftsmen had!” (Clifton-Taylor, 1986)

StokesayGH8

At some point the gatehouse became a refuge for a coiner and by 1877 there was a caretaker living in the building. When the architectural historian Thomas Hudson Turner visited Stokesay in 1845, he described it as “one of the most perfect and interesting buildings which we possess.” Following the death of Jewell Allcroft in 1992, Stokesay was placed in the guardianship of English Heritage and a four year campaign of restoration got underway.

StokesayGH4

Referred to as domus defensabiles in the Domesday Book, fortified homesteads were both a residence and a personal stronghold. The inherent desire to provide a facade with a “satisfying architectural climax” (Friar, 2003) is more than evident at Stokesay. What survives at Stokesay Castle is a remarkable example of a fortified manor house and the “breezy Jacobean gatehouse is a gem” (Jenkins, 2003).

StokesayGH7

“I do love these ancient ruins: We never tread upon them, but we set our foot upon some reverend history.” John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1612)

The gatehouse is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

StokesayGH1

Advertisements

Stokesay Castle: The Great Hall

StokesayGH3

South wall

Early medieval houses tended to have halls of aisled construction but gradually the obstructive posts were omitted resulting in a magnificent building type. The 13th century carpenters were experimenting in methods which would obviate the need for aisle posts and the cruck form of roof construction, which transferred the weight of the roof to the walls, eventually made them unnecessary. There is no evidence that the hall at Stokesay ever had aisles but there was likely to have been a screen across it. Reducing the size of the hall when it was used for its principle function, a wooden screen would have provided shelter from the draughts from the screens passage which led to the service rooms – the buttery, pantry and kitchen (Friar, 2003). The hall in a medieval castle or manor house, such as Stokesay, was the nucleus of an estate and considered the most important room in a dwelling. The walls of the hall would have been plastered and whitened and some of the original plasterwork can be seen on the north and south walls at Stokesay (see above). The hall at Stokesay stands on the western side of the courtyard and was built in the early 1290’s.

StokesayGH4

Built of sandstone rubble and retaining its extraordinary timber roof, the Great Hall at Stokesay is described as “one of the most evocative medieval halls” (Friar, 2003). Built to replace an earlier wooden hall, it comprises four bays with separate gables above each window and the doorway. The roof was originally supported by three pairs of crucks with each pair braced by two collar beams. Each cruck rested on a stone corbel above the hall floor but they were replaced by stone pilasters in the 19th century. The roof is a fantastic range of raised crucks, aisled end trusses and an unusual example of collar-purlins without crown posts (vertical king or crown posts provided extra stability). The fabulous cruck timbers cover the whole expanse of the hall and the three great wooden arches over the room are a rare survival for this period. Each supported by two horizontal collars, the topmost collars are supported below by pairs of struts. The arches are linked by purlins (the horizontal beams) which run along the side walls of the roof.

StokesayGH5

It is unknown where Laurence of Ludlow obtained his timber however, following his death some years later, his eldest son William was recorded as buying 24 oaks from the royal woods at Bushmoor and Haycrust – five miles north of Stokesay. Under the supervision of the carpenter, trees were cut up where they fell and the same marks of arcs and circles are found in the north tower, hall and solar block. The timbers have been dated by dendrochronology to the late 1280’s and show that these buildings were erected at the same time and possibly overseen by the same carpenter. The two upper floors of the north tower are accessed from the hall via a wooden staircase (below). Similar to the roof, this staircase survives from the late 13th century and the same carpenter’s marks occur on both. Using high quality wood, the treads of the staircase are cut from whole tree trunks and the sturdy brackets supporting the landing also date to the 1290’s (Summerson, 2009).

StokesayGH6

North wall with 13th century timber stair

Three large windows feature on the east and west walls and as was usual in the 13th century, only the upper parts of the windows were glazed. The lower levels were commonly open to the elements in fine weather and covered by wooden shutters in cold or rain. Shutters were almost invariably fitted to window openings with surfaces often painted with heraldic and other decoration. With glazing an expensive commodity, shutters were often braced like doors with pulleys and ropes used to close larger sets (Friar, 2003). The pointed trefoil head to the lights, which was much more common during the 13th century, feature at Stokesay and the hall windows have soffit cusps – more usual for the period are cusps built as part of the chamfer of the lights (Wood, 1994).

Enchanted by what he saw, the writer Henry James visited Stokesay in 1877 and remarked: “I have rarely had, for a couple of hours, the sensation of dropping back personally into the past so straight as while I lay on the grass beside the well in the little sunny court of this small castle and lazily appreciated the still definite details of medieval life.”

StokesayGH2

North end with wooden window shutters

Fordhouses: Moseley Old Hall

Moseley8

Adjacent to the border of Staffordshire, in the suburb of Fordhouses on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, is the charming half-timbered Moseley Old Hall. Thought likely to date to 1600, the Hall was built by Henry Pitt of Bushbury, a merchant of the staple who had purchased the estate in 1583 from a Codsall family. On his death in 1602, it was inherited by his daughter Alice who subsequently married Thomas Whitgreave of Bridgeford, Staffordshire. Moseley Old Hall and estate then passed by direct descent in the Whitgreave line until its sale in 1925. In the late 19th century, the Hall’s dilapidated state seems to have been the cause of the change of name to Moseley Old Hall – in 1600 it was referred to as Mr Pitt’s new Hall at Moseley.

Moseley9

Until 1870 there appears to have been little structural alteration to the building. The outer walls were rebuilt at this time and the Elizabethan windows were replaced by casements. Much of the original panelling and timber framing within the house still remains and is clearly visible throughout. Despite falling into disrepair and seriously affected by mining subsidence, the Hall remained in use as a farmhouse until the estate was sold in 1925. In 1940 it was acquired by Will Wiggin of Bloxwich but his efforts to repair the building were interrupted by wartime restrictions and were not completed at the time of his death. The Wiggin family transferred the Hall and one acre of land to the National Trust in 1962 and they opened the building to the public in 1963.

Moseley10

After his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II was on the run for 41 days with a price of £1000 on his head. On the morning of 8th September of the same year, the King arrived at the back door of Moseley Old Hall disguised in rough woodman’s clothes. Thomas Whitgreave and his priest, Father Huddleston, greeted the King and welcomed him inside. Whitgreave was a Catholic and his mother Alice, who was also in the house, had suffered heavy fines for their faith from the Parliamentary authorities. The King was found a safe hiding place in one of Moseley’s priest holes. By the time he left Moseley two days later, the King had devised a practical plan of escape to France. Those who had helped the King lived in fear of execution for the next eight and a half years until Charles was restored to the throne in 1660. The King dictated his own account of the dramatic six weeks of 1651 to Samuel Pepys in 1680. Thomas Whitgreave became known in the family as ‘the Preserver’ and he described the events at Moseley in a manuscript. The original manuscript still belongs to his descendants but has been reproduced, along with many other versions of the story, in the exhibition about Charles Ii in the Dressing Room.

Moseley2

The Ante Room walls display five 17th century prints of the Stations of the Cross by Nicholas de Bruyn. Also known as Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross are a series of images that commemorate Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. The room has exposed timbers, uncovered wooden floor and fireplace.

Moseley1

The corridor on the first floor (above) was constructed in the 19th century to give privacy to the bedroom from which it was divided. The walls display collections of contemporary engravings which depict people and events connected with the King’s flight. Also on display are various Acts and Ordnances issued by the Commonwealth of England, including a document that dates to September 1651 offering a reward of £1000 for the capture of ‘Charls Stuart Traytor’.

Moseley5

The Bedroom on the second floor has a large oak bedstead which has rope springing to support a straw palliasse or mattress. Similar bedrooms of the period would only contain a bed and possibly a chest to hold clothing.

Moseley6

The Chapel (above), or Oratory, was originally open to the rafters. The barrel-vaulted ceiling was added following the Relieving Act of 1791 which allowed Catholics greater freedom of worship. The blue and gold star decoration above the altar was executed following the issue of a licence for the Chapel on 14th July 1791. The room was regularly used for services until the 20th century. The Whitgreave crucifix was made in Spain and the room features two carved Yorkshire/Derbyshire chairs.

Moseley11

The Attic contains much of the original timber framing and the facing wall has an infilling of wattle and daub. The garret is the room in which Huddleston’s three pupils kept watch during Charles visit to Moseley. The adjoining section of the attic is a small hiding place, next to a chute to the Brewhouse on the ground floor. The brewing ingredients were stored here, under the roof, to keep them dry until required for use.

Moseley3

One of the principle features of the garden at Moseley Old Hall is the Knot Garden. A knot, as it was developed in Tudor times, was a small, usually rectangular, bed upon which was outlined a pattern. The Moseley Knot is worked in the living green of dwarf plants with spaces filled with coloured gravels. The garden follows one of five designs laid out by the Rev. Walter Stonehouse, Rector of Darfield in Yorkshire in 1640.

Moseley Old Hall is Grade II* Listed.

Lapworth: Packwood House

Packwood1

Packwood House is located in the village of Lapworth and has wonderful views of Two Pits Park and 1.5 hectares of formal gardens. The two storey late 16th century house derives its name from the Saxon ‘Pacca’s Wood’ with the earliest mention of the name dating to 1190 when Walter Chaplain of Packwood witnessed a deed. Much of the surrounding land belonged to the Benedictine monks of Coventry but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s, the property changed hands repeatedly. Packwood House was sold to John Fetherston for £340 in 1598. The Fetherston family had been living in nearby Knowle since the 15th century and John is believed to have built the core of the present Packwood, including the tall gables of his new ‘great mansion howse’.

Packwood9

The inventory made in 1634 suggests that the building was furnished like a prosperous farmhouse. The timber framed building has been covered with cement render since the early 19th century and underwent an extensive restoration programme in 1925-1932. Supervised by Edwin Reynolds, the restoration included alterations to the interior, construction of the single storey Long Gallery and replacement of the 19th century fenestration with timber mullion and transom windows.

Packwood18

The Hall

The Hall had a light oak balustraded gallery on three sides with a wrought iron chandelier before being substantially altered by Baron Ash in 1931. Characteristic of the Edwardian era, the walls were still pierced with mullioned windows and there was frieze high panelling. During the 20th century renovations, the timber ceiling was inserted, a single gallery of linenfold panelling was built and a new floor of oak from Lymore Park in Montgomeryshire was laid down.

Packwood10

The Long Gallery

The Long Gallery was created by Baron Ash to join the two Great Halls together. His architect, Edwin Reynolds, had considerable experience of remodelling historic buildings such as Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall. The oak floorboards were taken from Lymore Park and the panelling taken from Shaftsmoor in Hall Green.

Packwood4

The Long Gallery is embellished with rich tapestries which include The Coronation of Marcus Aurelius and St Remy crowning Charles VII before Joan of Arc. 

Packwood6    Packwood5

Beautifully detailed 17th century stained glass adorns the windows along the Gallery.

Packwood15

The Great Hall

The Great Hall was formerly detached from the house and used as a cow-byre and barn. The 17th/18th century barn is linked on the north west corner of the house by the Long Gallery and it took its present form in 1924-1927. A sprung floor for dancing was installed and the hayrack has been adapted into a balustrade for the gallery. The grand oak refectory table measures 6.4 metres long and is the centrepiece of the room. The Jacobean pattern supports are early 17th century and the table was purchased by Baron Ash from Cecil Ferrers at Baddesley Clinton in the mid 1930’s. Pre-war photographs show that the table was previously placed against the tapestries in the Long Gallery. The beautiful exposed roof timbers spring from corbels modelled on originals at Carcasonne in south west France. The Great Hall is surrounded by stunning hanging tapestries some of which depict portuguese scenes, 16th century scenes portraying the story of Saul and a 16th century series from Brussels which were bought from Aske Hall in Richmond.

Packwood8

The Inner Hall

The Inner Hall is accessed from the west end of the Screens Passage. This was originally the entrance hall until the drive across the causeway in the park was given up in the 19th century. The wonderful original timber framing was revealed when the Edwardian panelling was removed. The room is decorated with mostly 17th century furniture and 17th century Dutch textiles bought from Baddesley Clinton.

Packwood12

The Study

The Study adjoins the Inner Hall and has original, richly embellished, Jacobean panelling. The fireback is English and dates to 1635.

Packwood14

The Dining Room

Although the moulded ceiling beams are original, the Dining Room has been much altered. The focal point of the room is the 17th century English oak table with six walnut chairs which date to between 1650-1675.

Packwood7

Queen Margaret’s Room

Queen Margaret’s Room is named after Henry VI’s Queen who is said to have slept in the bed (above) in 1471 before the Battle of Tewkesbury. The pillars and canopy are upholstered in a light woollen material with red braiding. The bed was bought by Baron Ash at the sale of the contents of Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire in 1927. The cloth inscription above the bed reads:

“A conservationist and collector. I do this as an antidote to the decay and demolition of so many old houses all over the country. I am rescuing whatever I can from other places and preserving it here. Graham Baron Ash, c1935 “

When the Packwood Conservation and Engagement Team moved the bed, they discovered that at some point in the past, repairs had been made to the head cloth and that to attach it to the frame, the cloth had been stretched around the head posts and stitched to linen tapes nailed to the frame. Before the head cloth and valances were reinstated, they were cleaned and the damage repaired with stitch Velcro along the top edge.

Packwood16

The Yew Garden, according to legend, represents the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and are over 350 years old. Part of the ground was originally set out by John Fetherston between 1650 and 1670. The area in front of the house had remained as a lawn since the Second World War and the decision to reinstate this scheme was taken in 2004. The scheme restored the link between the house and the Yew Garden. Work was completed over two winters between 2005 and 2006 and the Breedon gravel paths offer a practical solution to Packwood’s numerous visitor numbers.

Packwood17

Converted 17th century stables flank the east side of the building and feature an asymmetrical facade with double arched doors, engaged brick piers and stone mullioned windows.

Packwood3

Packwood House, Barns and Stables are Grade I & Grade II Listed.

Packwood2

Bury St Edmunds: Mustow Street

MustSt3

Number 17 Mustow Street is a timber framed two storey building which was built following the demolition of a row of timber framed buildings in the street in 1926.

MustSt1

Rebuilt entirely of re-used timbers, the building is jettied on two sides and features ornately detailed wooden panels between the studs.

MustSt2

 

The building is Grade II Listed due to conserving the high quality timbers.

Henley In Arden: George House

GeorHse

Located on High Street is George House, formerly the Old George Inn. Dating to the 17th century,
the building features a timber framed and brick frontage, balcony above the open porch, leaded glazing and the roof having two gabled dormers. George House is Grade II listed.

 

 

Henley In Arden: Thai Cottage

Thai1

Located on High Street is the timber framed building now home to the restaurant – Thai Cottage.
The two storey former private dwelling dates to the 17th century and features a jettied gable cross, canted bay window with tiled roof and casement windows.
Thai2
The painted brick exterior on Station Road
The building is Grade II listed