1, 3 & 5 Park Street


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Old Hatfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 5AT


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Statutory Address:
Old Hatfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 5AT

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

Welwyn Hatfield (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


House built in the third quarter of the C17, very likely originating as an inn, subsequently used as a dwelling by the early C19, and converted into shops by the late C19 and then offices in the late C20.

Reasons for Designation

1, 3 & 5 Park Street, a house built in the third quarter of the C17, very likely originating as an inn, subsequently used as a dwelling by the early C19, and converted into shops by the late C19 and then offices in the late C20, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for the very rare survival of the two examples of C17 painted wall decoration;

* for the remarkable intactness and excellent condition of the ‘grotesque’ scheme which is finely executed work of particularly high quality for a building of this middling status;

* for its surviving historic fabric, including square panelling, late C17 oak staircase, and the original queen-post roof, which provides evidence for the construction and evolution of the building.

Historic interest:

* for the discovery and identification of the painted wall decoration which has brought to light rare and important survivals, providing valuable evidence of the history of vernacular decoration.

Group value:

* for its group value with nearby listed buildings, including the Old Coach House to the north and the Eight Bells Public House to the east, both listed at Grade II.


1, 3 & 5 Park Street has undergone a number of phases of alteration, extension and adaption. It was very likely built as an inn in the third quarter of the C17 on the site of a former inn known as Chequers from which it took its name. At this date, it was a timber-framed building comprising a main range of two rooms heated by a large central chimney with a staircase turret behind to the west, and a south cross-wing. The building is also likely to have had a north-western rear wing, possibly forming a kitchen or brew-house attached to the inn and served by a large chimney. By the later C17 the inn was associated with the Searancke family, most probably Flemings who promoted the introduction of hopped beer into the area, and whose brewery occupied a substantial site immediately to the west of the building. In 1667 they issued a copper halfpenny token with a central device in the form of a chequered shield. One of these was found during an excavation carried out in 1972, along with a Chequers Inn drinking mug which also depicted the chequerboard motif.

In the early C18 the building is described in records as a messuage tenement or inn, still in the ownership of the Searanke family. Around this time a corridor was created in a panelled first-floor room. Various innholders are recorded in fire insurance records, and in 1790 a fire policy taken out with the Sun Fire Company lists Charles Beechcroft in occupation. The policy mentions a dwelling and ‘chaisehouse’ worth £500, with further stock and utensils mentioned in adjoining stables and a rear yard.

In the early C19 the north-western rear wing and the rear western part of the building were extended. By this date the Searanke family owned twelve public houses in the parish but court records suggest that the Chequers had since been converted into a private house, and it was used for some time thereafter as the brewery residence. In around 1815 the brewery business was sold and subsequently changed hands numerous times throughout the C19. Photographic evidence shows that by the late C19 the building had been divided into a number of shops. A trade map of Old Hatfield from about 1900 notes a draper, H Andrews, and a china and glass dealer, T Gregory, occupying the premises. By 1967, number 3 was occupied by an electrical goods shop. In the 1960s the northern end of the building was demolished, and in the mid-1970s, as part of the heavily criticised redevelopment of this area of Old Hatfield, the Commission for New Towns carried out a restoration of 1, 3 & 5 Park Street which turned out to be highly destructive of its historic fabric. In more recent years, the building has been used as offices.

During works to convert the building into residential units in 2019, faint traces of wall painting were observed around the masonry of a chimney breast in one of the upper rooms. Subsequently, another much better preserved painting was found on the formerly rear external wall, preserved beneath later fabric. Painted decoration in buildings became prevalent when larger glazed windows (as opposed to small unglazed ones) and chimneys (as opposed to open hearths) made rooms cleaner and more visible. The richly patterned interiors popular from circa 1575 were replaced about 1610/20 by a new taste for plain schemes. These enhanced the timber structure by usually applying a single colour to the timber frame and leaving infill panels unpainted or painted white. The scheme found in 1, 3 & 5 Park Street reflects the ‘grotesque’ ornamentation of the later C16 or early C17. The design derives from print sources inspired by the rediscovery of first century paintings in Rome at Nero’s Golden Palace from the C15 onwards. These were used in royal palaces and elite residences from the 1530s onwards, occurring in houses further down the social scale by the late C16.


House built in the third quarter of the C17, very likely originating as an inn, subsequently used as a dwelling by the early C19, and converted into shops by the late C19 and then offices in the late C20.

MATERIALS: timber frame on a flint basement with either an original or later C17 brick façade, now covered in early C20 roughcast render. The lower frame has been partly replaced. The roof is covered in plain tiles.

PLAN: the building faces east onto Park Street and has a long rectangular plan. The principal range consists of a central chimney and staircase behind with a room to the north and south, and a south cross-wing, together forming the original C17 building. The original north external wall was removed to accommodate an early C19 extension.

EXTERIOR: 1, 3 & 5 Park Street has two storeys under a steeply pitched roof, the south cross-wing at the left end slightly projecting under a hipped roof. A tall mid-C17 red brick chimney stack with six square joined shafts rises from the ridge in the centre of the main range. On the left hand side of the main range, the first-floor wall surface is slightly raised, suggesting a string course or plat-band, typical of the late C17 and early C18. The window arrangement is asymmetrical and consists of five two-over-two pane sash windows on each floor, almost all having been replaced in 1975. The three windows to the right at ground-floor level replaced earlier shop fronts. The entrance to the left retains late C18 or early C19 shaped brackets supporting a flat hood, although the door itself is of C20 date. A single bay at the northern end of the range is under a mono-pitch roof and contains a C19 door and a casement window above.

The south cross-wing is dominated by a corner shop-front with full-height plate glass display windows on each elevation. The fascia has been removed but the shaped and reeded brackets at each end indicate that the shop front had late C19 origins (although the windows and double doors are of C20 date). The doorway is flanked by large wooden Tuscan columns which are likely to have supported a former projecting hood or doorcase before being repositioned to form the shop-front. The first floor of the cross-wing is lit on the front and return by two sash windows.

The rear (west) elevation is faced in red brick, although it is possible that the timber frame of the cross wing is actually faced in mathematical tiling. To the left is the projecting stair turret, followed by a Crittall-style window in a C19 cambered arch window surround. Adjoining the south-west corner of the building is a pair of Victorian chamfered gate piers of red brick with decorative iron gates. INTERIOR: this has been greatly altered over the years as a result of numerous changes of use and the destructive restoration carried out in the 1970s but it nevertheless retains a number of historic fixtures and fixtures, of which the wall paintings are the most significant.

The substantial central chimney has openings in the flanking rooms to the north and south. In the latter room the original C17 brick survives at the back of the fireplace, including traces of a blocked bread oven, but due to a fracture in the timber bressumer (strengthened by early riveted iron straps), the brick jambs have been rebuilt, and a central brick pier added in the C20. In the room to the north, the fireplace has a wide, chamfered timber bressumer, supported by original chamfered brick jambs. A small cupboard door with butterfly hinges survives on one side. A Victorian cast iron stanchion supports a boarded joist which probably conceals an original beam. The late C17 open well oak staircase has a closed string and slender turned balusters supporting a handrail of fairly flat profile with square newels. These rise to shaped caps which clearly had ball finials, since sawn off. The walls retain historic plaster. To the north of the stair is a small storage cupboard with boarded shelves and C17 or C18 metal hooks, and a ledged and braced door hung on pintles with large strap hinges and a ventilation lattice. The south cross-wing is one single-space, formerly occupied by a shop, retaining a few wall posts, two joists, and early lime plaster on the ceiling.

On the first floor, the landing is laid in wide oak floorboards. Doorways leading to rooms on the west, east and north sides retain C18 architraves, although the doors themselves do not survive. To the south of the central chimney stack, what was originally one room with a unified decorative scheme was partitioned along the western side to form a corridor in the early C18. This, along with the room, has square panelling along the bottom half of the wall with a shelf-like dado and historic plasterwork above, as well as wide pine floorboards of C18 date. The room is lit by two C19 windows with shallow seats. To the right of the chimney breast is a small closet with a two-panelled C17 door with H-hinges, a common arrangement during this period. At the northern end of the corridor, a thin C18 two-panelled door with HL hinges leads into a small cupboard on the left side of the chimney breast.

During the 2019 conversion, a wall painting was discovered on the west wall of the corridor (which originally formed the external wall), preserved beneath later fabric. The scheme is painted onto a probable lath and plaster base and covers the entire wall, covering a total of 5.7m in length by 2.6m in height. The lower part is obscured by late C17 or early C18 panelling but the small area exposed shows that it is in excellent condition. The finely executed scheme reflects the ‘grotesque’ ornamentation of the late C16 or early C17, depicting a large chimera-type creature with a lion’s head and abstract scrollwork emerging from its mane. Adjoining it to the right is a classical column, rendered with mouldings, an emerald green boss, and draped textile festoons at the head. The background is white with a pattern of black dots.

The room to the north of the central chimney also has wide floorboards and a small cupboard with L-hinges adjoining the chimney breast. The two east windows date to the C19, one of which has a low seat. The most notable feature on the front and side of the chimney breast, and extending across the top of the closet door, are traces of wall painting, also discovered in 2019. Though mostly masked beneath many layers of limewash and paint, some distinguishing features can be observed, including a central decorative device above the fire, with curled decoration on each side, and patterned stripes. Initial consultation suggests that these are characteristic of a late C17 imitation textile scheme.

The south cross-wing forms a single panelled room of high status. The panelling, which mostly survives, is divided by a dado into a short panel below and a taller panel above: proportions typical of the late C17 or early C18. The ceiling has a heavy box cornice and the floor is laid in wide boards of probable C17 date, under which the original floor structure with two heavy principal joists remains in place. The east windows have panelled seats. Traces of early paintwork of a dark grey colour have been revealed on the panelling by the stripping away of later lining papers.

The well-constructed C17 roof over the principal range is divided into three bays by queen-post trusses with staggered butt-purlins. The east pitch appears to be largely intact but the majority of the rafters on the west pitch have been replaced.

The cellar, which lies beneath the principal historic range, is now accessed via a modern stair at the front of the building but was originally entered from the main stair via solid brick treads with timber tread-ends, which partly survive. The southern end of the cellar retains early brick flooring and walls of uncoursed flintwork, partly rebuilt in C18 or C19 brick.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Gowing, and Pender, All Manner of Murals: The History, Techniques and Conservation of Secular Wall Paintings, (2007)
1-5 Park Street, Old Hatfield, Hertfordshire: Historic Building Recording, Archaeological Solutions Ltd (2019)


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

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 30 Jun 2001
Reference: IOE01/13086/07
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Robert Walkley. Source Historic England Archive
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