Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Lichfield (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


1908/0/10014 25-JUL-02

SHENSTONE MAIN STREET Upper Stonnall (North side) Marlais House and Wordsley House


Inn, later farmhouse and now two houses. Late C17, remodelled c1850-70 and with some late C20 alteration. Rendered over brick; plain tile roof, hipped to front, with rendered axial and end stacks. PLAN: double-depth with integral service ranges to rear including a kitchen to rear left, a possible back kitchen to right and a stair to the centre. The latter rises to the attic storey, and on the first floor was clearly linked to an axial corridor in the manner of other early double-pile houses of the mid/late C17. Wordsley House occupies that part to the left, Marlais House that part to the right. Late C19 wing to rear left. EXTERIOR: 2 storeys with attic. 3-window south front. Tuscan porch; mid C19 6-panelled door with margin panes to overlight. 6/6-pane horned sashes to left, mid C20 12-pane windows to right; 3 gabled dormers with bargeboards. The rear elevation has a tall stair window with stained glass to margin panes. INTERIOR: C18 and C19 doors in moulded wood architraves, including mid C18 to first floor of Wordsley House, and oak floorboards throughout; first floor of Wordsley House has fine mid C19 fireplace with reeded surround and cast iron grate, Marlais House has large mid C19 marble fireplace. The former kitchen, to the rear left of Wordsley House, has cavetto-moulded beam and ovolo-moulded bressummer to open fireplace, and there are stone steps to the cellar lined in sandstone; brick vaulted cellar to Marlais House. There is a dumb waiter in the area between the kitchen and front room of Wordsley House, adjacent to the stack and fronted by an early/mid C18 sash window. Ground floor of both houses has mid C19 plaster cornicing, Wordsley House having an early C20 staircase and Marlais House having a very fine late C17 dog-leg staircase, with heavy turned newels to closed string and ball finials to newels. Two late C17 plank doors with iron strap hinges to attic floor of Marlais House. The roof structure is formed of cranked principal rafters, the purlins trenched into them, which facilitate access through out the upper floor; one purlin, although not one that survives in situ, is inscribed S.I.E and dated 1677.

HISTORY: a bill of sale dated 1736 records this building as the 'Welsh Harp' Inn, the property being sited just to the north of Watling Street, the main London-Chester road. An inventory of 1730 records a Great Parlour (probably the right-hand ground-floor room of Marlais House), a hall with a long table (probably the front room of Wordsley House), a kitchen, a back kitchen with breadmaking equipment (probably to the rear right of Marlais House), a Coachman's Parlour and a great many other small rooms.

This former inn represents a significant addition to the double-pile plans, with access to the first-floor rooms from an axial corridor, that were introduced into England in the C17 and that in the following century had a fundamental impact on the planning of domestic interiors. Inns had formerly made use of gallery access to chambers, but contemporary examples such as at Scole in Norfolk were making early use of the more compact double-pile plan. These plans often used innovative new roofing systems to span full widths; the use of cranked rafters is in part rooted in the cruck building tradition, and they were also used where access was needed for commercial purposes, there being contemporary examples of these associated with the textile trade in south Gloucestershire, and for farm buildings. It was clearly internally refitted in the early/mid C18, the date of many of its door architraves. This building's interest as an inn of the post-Restoration period is enhanced by its association with the outbuilding to its west, for the accommodation and servicing of horses and vehicles.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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