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The Priest House, Wethersfield

Description: The Priest House

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 21 December 1967
English Heritage Building ID: 115716

OS Grid Reference: TL7303429348
OS Grid Coordinates: 573034, 229348
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9357, 0.5156

Location: Water Hall Lane, Wethersfield, Essex CM7 4AL

Locality: Wethersfield
Local Authority: Braintree District Council
County: Essex
Country: England
Postcode: CM7 4AL

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Listing Text

(west side)

3/204 The Priest House (formerly
21.12.67 listed as Priests House)


House. Early C16, extended in C17. Timber framed, weatherboarded and
plastered, roofed with handmade red clay tiles. Continuous jetty house of 4
bays comprising a central 2-storey hall range of 2 bays with an inserted early
C16 stack in the right bay against the front wall, a storeyed parlour/solar bay
to left, a storeyed service bay to right, of which the end wall returns at an
acute angle from the front wall. C17 extension to left, also of 2 storeys but
lower. Ground floor, 7 C20 casements. First floor, 6 C20 casements. C20 plain
boarded door. Exposed bressumer of jetty with spiral leaf carving along most of
its length, plain at right end, exposed beams and joists, 3 plain brackets.
Below the jetty the side of the main stack protrudes through the plaster, with a
recess with 3 trefoiled heads. The left bay of the jetty is underbuilt. Roof
of original house hipped at both ends. Original sprockets below eaves at front,
rear, and right end. The right (service) bay has chamfered transverse and axial
beams from which the partitions have been removed, and plain joists of
horizontal section, with a trimmed stair trap, blocked. The next bay has a
blocked front doorway with 4-centred arched head, reversed so that the weathered
carved front is exposed inside, with pomegranates in each spandrel, and a C17
plain wood-burning hearth blocking the original cross-entry. Back to back with
it is the more elaborate hearth which appears through the front wall. The mantel
beam has a cranked upper face, and is richly carved with folded leaf, vines,
hearts, a bird, a molet, flowers, pomegranates, and the word 'Ihus'. Above the
mantel beam is a recessed panel with chamfered jambs and moulded head and sill.
In the rear of the hearth are 2 niches, one with a trefoiled head and one with a
plain V-head, and at each side there is a seat recess with a 3-centred arched
head. Richly carved half-height jowls support a roll-moulded binding beam; the
axial beams are similarly moulded. The joists are also roll-moulded, with
foliate carved stops, jointed to the beams with soffit tenons with diminished
haunches. In the partition at the left end is a doorway to the parlour, with
4-centred arched head. On the upper floor there is a doorway at the front end
of the same partition, with a plain straight head and original rebated
floorboards. The scarfs in the wallplates are slightly splayed versions of the
edge-halved and bridled type. There are hollow-chamfered arched braces to the
tiebeams. The roof is of queen-strut construction with clasped purlins and
arched wind-bracing. The use of the pomegranate motif on the head of the front
door dates the building to the period from the marriage of Katherine of Aragon
and Henry VIII and their joint coronation in 1509, to her fall from favour in
1526. The brick hearth is built round a moulded beam in such a way as to
suggest that it is not original, and it probably replaces an earlier timber
framed chimney in the same position. Nevertheless, if the pomegranate motif is
correctly identified (and it is much less clear in this situation) it was
constructed in the same period. The symbolism of the carving is not entirely
clear. The molet probably refers to the De Vere family; none of the flowers are
four-leafed, so there is no Tudor rose. The pomegranate dating of the main
frame provides a useful check on the typological joint dating used in Essex,
confirming the evidence recorded in High Garrett House, Bocking, and Latchley's
Manor, Steeple Bumpstead, both with pomegranate decoration, and gives a date
range for the unusual type of scarf, also found at Knights Templars Terrace,
Kelvedon, and Parsonage Farm, Burwell, Cambridgeshire. The original purpose of
the building is not clear. It is far from a market town. It seems too highly
ornamented to be a farmhouse. The nearest church is 0.6 km. away, in the next
parish of Shalford. Some non-parochial ecclesiastical or monastic connection is
probable. An added wing, extending forwards from the right end, has been
removed in the C20. RCHM 42.

Listing NGR: TL7303429352

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.