Description of the building
2a. The fabric
(Numbers in brackets refer to the room numbers on the sketch plan, see Appendix4h)
Condition of the building
The building has been unoccupied for several years, the windows were boarded up, and recent internal works include removal of the staircase to first floor, partition walls, and the stacks at attic level. Partitioning for a ground floor toilet and kitchen have also been removed, together with fireplace tiling. Recent removal of plaster allowed some examination of the brick construction of the walls.
The house is rendered and lined in imitation of ashlar, but with extensive recovering and repair. The white-painted plaster and cement render may disguise structural alterations, and blocked windows are evident.
The roof is of thin purple-grey Welsh slates.
The brick walling is in Flemish bond on the front, using glazed or vitrified headers to create a diaper pattern, visible where plaster has been removed from the internal ground floor front wall. The bond used gave a strong wall but, with many bricks extending the full width, the potential damp problem was combated by the use of vitrified headers. The bricks examined are 7"x 2", the small dimensions suggesting manufacture at an early phase in the Brick Tax period (1784 - 1850). They were possibly locally made from clay dug on the north side of the High Street. Stone was used as foundation to the walls, and for window sills.
Description of the exterior
Front door of 4 plain panels is not that described in the List description, which was a more typical 6-panel type. It is set in a plain architrave with corner panels. There are half-ball projections in the corner panels, and a moulded cornice over. The side pilasters appear to have been made narrower and do not match the width of the corner panels, suggesting that the doorway may have been widened.
All the windows are boarded up, but are described here as though visible. The front ground floor left is noticeably wider than the others, with a mid twentieth-century casement frame, probably enlarged for bank purposes. The remaining windows have 4x4-pane balanced sashes in moulded surrounds with thin stone sills and flat lintels. The upper floor window lintels reach eaves level.
There is a projecting band at first-floor level, deepened across the centre of the building to carry lettering when bank signage was added in 1949.
Two metal ties are fixed across the vertical crack defining the rebuilt left gable.
A low mid twentieth-century brick boundary wall to front defines a garden area with front path. It returns on the left, and abuts the house wall in line with the original property line, before the attached cottage was demolished circa 1900.
Doorway slightly right of centre with scar of a shallow porch pitched roof supported on brackets. Original window opening with 16-pane frame to ground floor left and first floor, right (1:4 and 2:3). Narrow landing window (2:5) with blocking below. No original window visible to first floor left (2:4), but a small window only. No evidence of the small addition (a privy?) shown on the 1907 map (see Appendix 4e).
Right return: west gable
Access to the rear garden is along this wall line. A blocked window or possibly a doorway ground floor right, room 1:4. Gable window with 16-pane sash to first floor right, room 2:4.
A 2-light casement window lights the attic.
Left return: east gable
Close to the former Post Office, no.31; viewed from road only.
A much-altered wall, affected by demolition, rebuilding and repair since the attached cottage was demolished between 1896 and 1907. At least five areas of repair can be identified, including two areas of extra wall thickness. Viewed from the front there appears to be a steeply-angled low roof profile which lines up with the eaves level of nos.23 and 25 to the east. Metal strips on the front wall indicate an attempt to tie the demolished cottage wall into the front and rear walls of no.33.
A tall narrow panel of walling, probably of brick, strengthens the left end. Changes in the rendering suggest three further horizontal bands of repair.
Description of the interior
See sketch plan, (Appendix 4h), for room numbering. There are no cellars known in the building, and none shown in the foundation test-holes dug in 2005. The rubble covering the floor prevented close examination.
Level 1: ground floor
1:1 Widened window, this and 1:3 knocked into one room by removal of short partition walls flanking the chimney stack, probably for bank use, 1949. Straight join of rebuilt east gable wall in NE corner. Fireplace blocked.
1:2 Balanced sash window, slim moulded glazing bars, moulded surround; no evidence of shutters. Twentieth-century tiled fireplace. Floor joists visible here and elsewhere as ceiling lath and plaster removed, ten joists roughly cut, some decay.
1:3. No entrance from the central hallway 1:5 , only from the front room. Probably a modification for bank use. Barred window, casement frame for bank use. NE comer partitioned for internal toilet with small ventilator window, mid twentieth century. Straight join in east gable wall, in an area of rebuilding and repair on outside.
1:4 Original window frame; blocked gable opening not visible on inside. Recent and probably original kitchen use; fireplace opening slightly larger than in other rooms. Partitioned SW corner ? store room, walling removed.
1:5 Entrance hall extending through the building, with rear door and stairs. Staircase missing. The two long internal walls are framed with slight studs 2 x 2.5inches, set between floor and ceiling beams and fixed with wooden pegs. Doorways opened from this hallway into front and rear rooms.
Level 2: first floor
All four rooms were heated. No evidence of raised eaves could be seen with certainty on front or rear walls. Good survival of original windows.
Partitions between front and rear walls intact.
2:5 the stair case with closed string has a surviving principal baluster, turned pillar style with roll mouldings to base and cap, finial missing.
Level 3: attic
A single large space with gable end windows; the two four-flue chimney stacks have been demolished to floor level. Plaster ceiling removed to reveal roof structure of four bays with three plain trusses. Two tiers of through purlins, split oak rafters arranged in groups of 6,5,5,6. Long slender braces nailed to the rafters across the two middle bays. Ridges not visible; framework for chimney stacks remain, roofed over.
2b. Architectural plan and style
This is a substantial square-plan, four-room house (see Appendix 4h), facing an important routeway.
It is low and wide, of two storeys and 3 bays, the upper window heads reaching up to eaves level. The window proportions are wider than the earlier 12-pane- glazing-bar sashes, a display of wealth by the builder. There is a projecting band two-bricks deep extending across the frontage at first-floor level, dividing the facade horizontally an emphasising the upper floor. The band has been increased in depth between the outer windows, to take lettering for bank signage.
Classical and vernacular features
The entrance architrave is a simplified version of the classical pedimented Georgian surrounds, more typical of the early nineteenth century, with corner bosses popular in fireplace design by the mid nineteenth century. The door was originally 6-panelled, without an overlight. The design reflects both the vernacular proportions of the building (wide and low) and the simpler Greek revival fashion in classical architecture of the 1820s.
Aspect and room use
The warm south-facing rooms are at the rear of the building. Some thought has been given to the possibility that the house may originally have faced south onto the farm land, with service rooms [as is usual in vernacular buildings] on the colder north side. No evidence for such an early arrangement was identified, and service rooms of the twentieth century were on the south side. One can conclude that the prominence of the house on the road-side was of more importance to the builder than convenience of room use.
The plan is, as can be expected from the balanced fa gade, symmetrical. The central entrance opens into a through-passage with principal reception rooms opening off each side. Towards the rear the doorways open into former service rooms, the kitchen and probably a workroom or closet.
The rooms are all similar in size, with a substantial chimney serving back-to-back fireplaces between the front and rear rooms. The 4-flue stacks originally rose through the ridge, and the roof structure is of one build, with no suggestion of alteration. The back-to-back stacks present a different appearance from the usual Georgian arrangement of gable-end stacks, but the arrangement is known from a mid eighteenth-century house, Upper Watchinwell Farmhouse, near Calbourne (see Brinton, p.80), but with an earlier roof form.
When considering what appears to be a simple plan here, of one building phase, it has to be remembered that for much of the period of its use there was a second, earlier cottage standing just to the south, the 'old cottage of the Tithe map. (see history, below). It would have served as service rooms, brewhouse, privy, and storage or have had farm use. This house always appears to have been a separate property from the attached range to east.