Description: Read Hall
Date Listed: 26 July 1979
English Heritage Building ID: 279401
OS Grid Reference: TM1266962673
OS Grid Coordinates: 612669, 262673
Latitude/Longitude: 52.2212, 1.1121
Explore more of the area around Mickfield, Suffolk at Explore Britain.
MICKFIELD NORWICH ROAD
TM 16 SW
- Read Hall
Read Hall is a former farmhouse of C15 date with C16, C17 and later alterations, renovated in the 1970s.
Timber framed with rendered panels and tile-covered gable roofs.
Generally of two storeys with attics above the service range to the east and cross-wing at the west. A C17 ridge chimney with moulded, angled pots is off-centre to the west. The earliest configuration was a 2 bay open hall with cross passage; buttery and pantry to the east with storage and chambers over; and solar (parlour) to the west of the open hall with chamber over. In the later C16 a cross wing was added to the west, reconfiguring the solar. A stair and stack bay was inserted between the hall and cross wing, and the hall floored over. In the C17 the main entrance and a lobby was added to the south of the stack giving the hall a lobby-entrance plan.
The north elevation has restored hall window openings in the centre, probably converted into an oriel in the C16 as evidenced by the handmade brick panel which supported the corbels for the window. Square mullioned windows to the right and left were revealed during the renovation.C20 work indicated by the use of diamond mullions. To the left, a boarded C20 door with 2-centred arched head marks the entrance to the cross-passage. The cross-wing to the right has a slight jetty supported on moulded timber brackets; its rear elevation is blind apart from a later opening inserted in the gable apex. The south elevation became the principal façade in the C16 and has restored casement window openings of C16 and C17 date with later frames with ovolo moulded mullions. An off-centre, C20 or earlier, porch has been added to the front of the stack bay. The cross-wing has a slight jetty on moulded brackets beneath which is a small oriel flanked by tripartite casements; to the right the stairs are lit by a range of 7 lights. In the centre there are extensive four-light casements with leaded glass and tripartite windows at the service end. The east elevation is rendered; the west elevation has a large 6 pane casement with leaded lights on the ground floor and a four pane casement on the first, both flanked by tripartite casements.
The C15 framing remains substantially intact and comprises close stud work, cranked midrails, sole and wall plates, of considerable scantling and pegged in place. On the ground floor the east cross-passage frame remains with buttery and pantry door openings, one blocked. There is evidence for two stairs into the first and attic rooms of the service end are apparent. The west cross-passage frame has been lost, although the grooves for the screen are evident in studwork on the north and south wall frames. Fine C17 panelling has been inserted close to the position of the cross-passage and is believed to be in situ. In the C20 renovations, part of the attic flooring was removed to reveal the impressive C15 crown post roof with coupled rafters. Massive cranked tie beams with arched braces support the roof with a central octagonal crown-post with moulded chamfered base and cap from which 4 upward braces (two of which have been replaced) rise to the crown plate.
The C16 work comprises floor frames with deeply chamfered axial bridging beams and joists with diagonal cut stops. Brick floors on the ground floor were re-laid in the C20 but are otherwise contemporary. The back-to back inglenook fireplaces have some replaced brickwork, but are substantially intact. To the west, the ground floor framing of the cross-wing has roll-moulded transverse bridging beams, sole plate and midrails. The room above has well-crafted wall framing, with roll-moulded bridging beams and an arched brick fireplace. The attic space above has an intact common coupled rafter roof with clasped purlins and windbraces. The C16 winding newel stair, positioned to the south of the stack, services the cross-wing and is intact; large floorboards on the landings are likely to be C16 or C17.
In the C17 the south pitch of the roof was raised to accommodate larger windows, but kept in situ the rafters of the C15 structure. A door opening in the south elevation was inserted in front of the stack bay to create a lobby-entrance. Very little alterations appear to have been done in the C19, although the roof of the service end was probably partly replaced then as it comprises tree and shrub branches and thin nailed rafters. The C20 renovation was masterful in revealing the best features of the halls different phases. Of particular note is the creation of a gallery at attic height overlooking the restored open hall, partly retaining the C15 configuration by exposing the fine C15 roof.
Read Hall was one of the manors of Mickfield, previously known as the Manor of Sheppard's, that family owning it from the C16 to C18. The current hall dates from the C15, but a moated enclosure to the north indicates a greater antiquity to the site. In Lay Subsidy records of 1524, Thomas Sheppard is stated as being the richest resident in the parish, an accolade subsequently bestowed on both his son and grandson who continued to live at Read Hall. This family of Yeoman farmers owned land and property in other nearby parishes in addition to the Manor and their wealth is manifest in the remodelling of the C16 when an oriel window replaced the hall window, the hall was floored over, a cross-wing was built at the west end incorporating a chimney stack and newel stairs. In the C17 the roof was raised at the east end and a new lobby added to the west end of the south elevation, creating a lobby entrance plan. In the late 1960s, the building was somewhat dilapidated, but was purchased and faithfully restored, receiving a Civic Trust Award for the renovation works.
Sandon, E 1977 'Suffolk Houses A Study of Domestic Architecture' (see drawings by John Le Comber p. 76)
Stewart, A and A, 'Read Hall' (unpublished summary report incorporating material from dissertation by Mrs P.M Smith).
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION
Read Hall is recommended for upgrading from grade II to II* for the following principal reasons.
* It is an outstanding and unusually intact example of an evolved C15 and later timber framed former farmhouse, which retains notable features of more than special interest including an intact C15 moulded crown post roof, C16 cross-wing with roll moulded timbers and jetty on decorated brackets and C16 newel staircase.
* Historical research sets the building in its social and economic context, adding value to the understanding of the hall and the people who lived in it.
* Retaining fabric and features of more than special interest, encapsulating the change in the form of domestic dwellings from a C15 open hall, floored over to become a C16 remodelled Yeoman's house of some status, to a C17 lobby-entrance plan farmhouse.
Listing NGR: TM1266962673
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.