A medieval hall house, now divided into three premises. The building dates from the period around 1400 and has C17, C18, C19 and C20 additions and alterations.
Reason for Listing
Nos. 31-35 High Street, Droitwich are designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: the solar wing of this medieval house, is a thoroughly-considered design which contains joinery of considerable quality.
* Rarity: a house of c.1400 which retains its plan form and a significant part of its structural detail and is a distinct rarity.
* Intactness: The building has undergone a degree of change, which is to be expected of a structure of such age in the centre of the commercial area of a town. Nonetheless, the timber frame of the solar wing is complete in all its essential details and the central truss and structural timbers of the hall range are also intact, as is the outer form of the eastern end.
The building, which is known as Nos. 31-35 High Street Droitwich, was listed at Grade II in 1973 as a row of three early-C19 shops. Since the date of their listing, however, these properties have been found to be medieval in origin. It can be seen from the surviving fabric that together they formed a substantial house which dated from circa 1400. The westernmost property (No. 31) was the solar and its gabled wing also included the cross passage. The central property (No. 33) was the hall, which was formerly open to the roof but which had a first floor inserted at an unknown date, and the eastern property (No. 35) was a further wing containing a chamber at first floor level with a shop to the ground floor, or possibly sevice rooms.
During the post-medieval period the house was divided into three separate commercial properties and an extension to the north was added to No. 31 in the C17 and largely rebuilt in the C19. A scheme of renovation was also undertaken to the external elevations fronting High Street in the early C19, which contributes to the buildings' current external appearance.
The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1885 illustrated these buildings as three separate properties. The western building (No. 31) was shown as an inn and the map revealed that there was a passage to the east of the ground floor which accessed a courtyard to the rear of No. 33. This courtyard was enclosed by buildings to the north and to the east fronting Gurney's Lane. The form of these buildings remained similar on the 1903 Ordnance Survey map with the exception of an extension to the rear of No. 33. By the time of the publication of the 1927 OS map, the buildings fronting Gurney's Lane had been cleared but the courtyard was still enclosed by outbuildings at the rear of the properties. The modern Ordnance Survey map reveals that the extension to the rear of No. 33 has been removed and the outbuildings have been demolished.
MATERIALS: The original structure is timber framed with lath-and-plaster infill, and later, brick infill and additions and some walling of rubble stone. The roof is of plain tiles.
PLAN: The solar range is to the west and incorporates a cross passage at ground-floor level. The solar and an ante-room are to the first floor. The hall is at the centre and further rooms, which may have been built as service rooms or a shop space with a chamber above, are to the east. The hall was originally open to the roof, but a floor has been inserted at a later date.
EXTERIOR: Nos. 31-35 High Street are predominantly early-C19 in appearance. Their facades have been rendered and the roof above No. 33, and possibly also that above No. 35, has been raised so that the eaves level of all three buildings is now uniform. No. 31 is aligned with its gable facing the street. At first-floor level it has a large, tripartite sash window, and at ground-floor level there is a round-headed doorway to the cross passage at right and a C19 shop window with C20 glazing to the left of the ground floor. There is internal evidence that the first floor was formerly jettied and the ground floor has been underbuilt in brick. To the east, Nos. 33 and 35 are slightly recessed and aligned parallel to the High Street and have modern shop windows at ground-floor level and three, six-over-six, sash windows above.
There is a moulded cornice to the top of the wall. Gabled dormer windows have been inserted into the roof of No. 33. The west flank is adjoined by No. 29 High street, the east flank has been rebuilt with C19 brick and has a hipped roof. To the rear of the properties is a large courtyard bounded by the rear elevations of No. 33 and No. 35 and the west elevation of the extension to No. 31. Nos. 33 and 35 both have gabled wings which project into the courtyard. No. 35 is whitewashed with a single-storey, modern brick lean-to and No. 33 has two gabled projections to the rear. The eastern gable is timber-framed with a blocked window to the first floor and a glazed opening to the ground floor. Abutting this, to the west, is a larger wing constructed of sandstone blocks with a brick gable. It has a timber, six-over-six, sash window to the first floor.
From the courtyard, the eastern elevation of the rear section of the No. 31 High Street is visible. A brick addition, apparently of service areas and rooms connected with the inn, extends the length of the courtyard and appears to be predominately C19, with a small C20 addition with a flat roof. The rear elevation of the original building is also partially visible and reveals elements of timber-framing with C19 or C20 brick nogging.
INTERIOR: The ground floor of the solar wing contains the cross passage to the east of No. 31. This passage has been partitioned to provide two small rooms and an entrance porch and has two visible pairs of moulded, arched braces, which connect from square wall posts to moulded, cross-axial timbers. The ground floor room in No. 31 has panels of timber framing, with a deep mid rail, showing to the dividing wall with the cross passage. The ceiling has moulded, transverse beams which are in-line with the roof trusses at first floor level. They are supported by arched braces. To the centre of the room is an axial beam and there is a carved boss in the form of a flower at the central intersection.
The first floor of No. 31 is accessed via an inserted staircase of C18 or C19 date to the north of the medieval structure. The first floor is divided into two rooms, the anteroom to the north and the former solar to the south. The anteroom has been plastered and has door surrounds of early-C19 date which lead through to the rear wing. The solar has timber-framed walling to three sides, with large, curved braces rising from the mid rail to connect with the wall posts. To the top is a carved wall plate with brattished decoration. The southern gable wall has been rebuilt in brick. The room is divided into two principal bays with a prominent central truss. The truss has moulded wall posts which support a pair of generous knee braces, whose deep blades rise to connect with a cranked collar which has a boss at the apex carved in the form of a flower, as in the room below. The two bays are in turn divided by subsidiary trusses which also have arched braces, although these start above the moulded wall plate and also rise to connect with a cranked collar. The roof has two ranks of trenched purlins. Below these are two ranks of deep wind braces, which are arched and cusped. A doorway with an ogee head, to the north-east corner of the room has been blocked. This would have led to the exterior of the building and may indicate a former access from an external stair. The north-west wall has a painted stone fire surround with a moulded, square opening and moulded cornice (F W B Charles, writing in 1967, had apparently seen a similar fireplace at ground-floor level; see SOURCES). The walling behind this and to the right has been partially replaced and the moulded wall plate in this bay has gone. There is another fireplace, apparently of early-C19 date to the south-west wall with cast iron grate. At some stage (most probably in the early-C19) the room was given a suspended ceiling and this has caused the timbers designed to carry this work to be suspended from the trusses above. The roof joins with that above the hall range on the eastern side. This triangular opening has recently been sealed with concrete blocks.
No. 33 has a large, decorated truss which is visible at first floor level. The hall was originally open to the roof, but a first floor was inserted at some point and the roof was raised to create an attic storey. The truss has been incorporated in a dividing wall. It has deep arched braces which rise from the wall posts to connect with a chamfered tie beam. The principal rafters are cusped and so are the central Queen struts. Further heavy timbers show in the walls of this part of the building, including arched braces, a sill plate and vertical timbers to the eastern side wall of the cross passage. There is some C17 panelling with a fluted frieze and a door made up from panelling.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.