Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1123312

Date first listed: 21-Dec-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1986



Ordnance survey map of THE PRIEST HOUSE
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Wethersfield

National Grid Reference: TL 73034 29348


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Reasons for Designation

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3/204 The Priest House (formerly 21.12.67 listed as Priests House)


House. Early C16, extended in C17. Timber framed, weatherboarded and plastered, roofed with handmade red clay tiles. Continuous jetty house of 4 bays comprising a central 2-storey hall range of 2 bays with an inserted early C16 stack in the right bay against the front wall, a storeyed parlour/solar bay to left, a storeyed service bay to right, of which the end wall returns at an acute angle from the front wall. C17 extension to left, also of 2 storeys but lower. Ground floor, 7 C20 casements. First floor, 6 C20 casements. C20 plain boarded door. Exposed bressumer of jetty with spiral leaf carving along most of its length, plain at right end, exposed beams and joists, 3 plain brackets. Below the jetty the side of the main stack protrudes through the plaster, with a recess with 3 trefoiled heads. The left bay of the jetty is underbuilt. Roof of original house hipped at both ends. Original sprockets below eaves at front, rear, and right end. The right (service) bay has chamfered transverse and axial beams from which the partitions have been removed, and plain joists of horizontal section, with a trimmed stair trap, blocked. The next bay has a blocked front doorway with 4-centred arched head, reversed so that the weathered carved front is exposed inside, with pomegranates in each spandrel, and a C17 plain wood-burning hearth blocking the original cross-entry. Back to back with it is the more elaborate hearth which appears through the front wall. The mantel beam has a cranked upper face, and is richly carved with folded leaf, vines, hearts, a bird, a molet, flowers, pomegranates, and the word 'Ihus'. Above the mantel beam is a recessed panel with chamfered jambs and moulded head and sill. In the rear of the hearth are 2 niches, one with a trefoiled head and one with a plain V-head, and at each side there is a seat recess with a 3-centred arched head. Richly carved half-height jowls support a roll-moulded binding beam; the axial beams are similarly moulded. The joists are also roll-moulded, with foliate carved stops, jointed to the beams with soffit tenons with diminished haunches. In the partition at the left end is a doorway to the parlour, with 4-centred arched head. On the upper floor there is a doorway at the front end of the same partition, with a plain straight head and original rebated floorboards. The scarfs in the wallplates are slightly splayed versions of the edge-halved and bridled type. There are hollow-chamfered arched braces to the tiebeams. The roof is of queen-strut construction with clasped purlins and arched wind-bracing. The use of the pomegranate motif on the head of the front door dates the building to the period from the marriage of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII and their joint coronation in 1509, to her fall from favour in 1526. The brick hearth is built round a moulded beam in such a way as to suggest that it is not original, and it probably replaces an earlier timber framed chimney in the same position. Nevertheless, if the pomegranate motif is correctly identified (and it is much less clear in this situation) it was constructed in the same period. The symbolism of the carving is not entirely clear. The molet probably refers to the De Vere family; none of the flowers are four-leafed, so there is no Tudor rose. The pomegranate dating of the main frame provides a useful check on the typological joint dating used in Essex, confirming the evidence recorded in High Garrett House, Bocking, and Latchley's Manor, Steeple Bumpstead, both with pomegranate decoration, and gives a date range for the unusual type of scarf, also found at Knights Templars Terrace, Kelvedon, and Parsonage Farm, Burwell, Cambridgeshire. The original purpose of the building is not clear. It is far from a market town. It seems too highly ornamented to be a farmhouse. The nearest church is 0.6 km. away, in the next parish of Shalford. Some non-parochial ecclesiastical or monastic connection is probable. An added wing, extending forwards from the right end, has been removed in the C20. RCHM 42.

Listing NGR: TL7303429352


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

Legacy System number: 115716

Legacy System: LBS

End of official listing