Well House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Well House, The Green, West Tilbury, Essex


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Statutory Address:
Well House, The Green, West Tilbury, Essex

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

Thurrock (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Timber framed house of late C15 origin with extensions probably dating to the late C18 and late C19, encased in brick around the 1840s.

Reasons for Designation

Well House, a timber framed house of late C15 origin with later extensions, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Proportion of original fabric: a significant proportion of original fabric survives, including the king post roof and much of the framing of the east, south and west walls; and it is highly likely that more framing survives in those parts of the house currently covered by plaster;

* Architectural interest: one of the most notable elements is the arched brace in the solar, a finely constructed piece that evinces medieval craftsmanship of a high order and indicates that the house was of some status;

* Historic interest: the building has evolved over at least four centuries to accommodate the changing needs of succeeding occupants. In particular, the ceiling over of the open hall demonstrates a key development in the use and plan form of domestic buildings.


Well House dates to the late C15 and was formerly a copyholding with around fifty acres of the manor of West Tillbury Hall. In the late C17 the proprietors of Well House Farm were the Nuthalls, apparently kinsfolk of West Tilbury’s manor lords. In 1687 William Nuthall is recorded as holding the Well House lands, and in the 1760s his descendent Thomas Nuthall had the farm. It then passed into the possession of the local parson David Evans who in 1794 insured the building, described as being of ‘plaister and tiled’, for £300. The same value was also assigned to his ‘new [thatched] Barn near the Well House’. In 1838 however, the farmhouse is described as being devoid of its earlier yard buildings. It remained in the possession of Evans’ daughters and their families until the middle of the C19, and the farmstead was then broken up. Outlying fields were sold for development, and the farmhouse came separately to Philip Benton of Little Wakering. After his death in 1898 it was purchased by the Burness family estate and had ceased to operate agriculturally by the 1920s.

The evolution of Well House is uncertain but it is likely to have originated as a late C15 three-bay timber framed hall house with a two-storey solar. The open hall was later ceiled over, and the ground-floor bay division or screens passage removed. The slender scantling of the framing in the south bay at ground-floor level suggests that this may have been replaced at a later date, possibly in the C18. The earliest available depiction, redrawn from Sloane’s survey of 1764, shows a three-bay house with a pitched roof (Bingley, p. 28). A redrawn map of Asser’s survey of 1804 shows the addition of a large square-shaped extension on the west side (ibid. p. 24). This may have originally been built in brick as there are remnants of handmade red brick on the south side of the extension. The house is described as retaining a flame-blackened inglenook (now gone) in the 1840s. At around the same date it was encased in brick and re-orientated to face the village green. The Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1864 shows the same plan form as Asser’s 1804 survey. By the time of the publication of the 1897 OS map an entrance porch had been added to the east front; and to the rear (west) extension, a scullery containing a copper had been added on the north side and another small extension on the west side. This latter was later removed in the 1960s to make way for a conservatory which has itself recently been replaced with a new conservatory which is excluded from the listing. Also excluded is the 1970s garage and the timber-clad, single-storey building to the west, now also used as a garage.


Timber framed house of late C15 origin with extensions probably dating to the late C18 and late C19, encased in brick around the 1840s.

MATERIALS: timber-framing encased in yellow stock brick laid in Flemish bond with gauged red brick window arches, and roof covering of red plain clay tiles.

PLAN: the house faces east onto the village green and has a complex plan form. The three-bay timber framed element is aligned north-south, and has a late C19 porch on the east side. To the rear (west) is a large, probably late C18 addition, which has a late C19 extension on the north side, and an early C21 conservatory on the west side.

EXTERIOR: the two-storey house has pitched roofs with parapets and cogged eaves at the gable ends. The principal three-bay elevation has an off-centre two-storey gabled porch with an early C19 six-panelled door and three-pane over-light. Over this is a late C20 gabled canopy supported on timber posts. To either side are recessed early C19 six-over-six pane sashes with slender glazing bars on the ground and first floor, with the exception of the windows lighting the first floor of the south bay and the porch, which are replicas. The north elevation presents the gable end, lit on the ground floor by a sash, and to the right is first-floor sash.

The recessed rear extension (of probable late C18 date) has a C19 four-panelled door and a gabled dormer above, followed by the projecting single-storey scullery. The east side of this is blind, and the brickwork of the north gable end has been repaired. It is pierced on the left side by a small C20 two-light window, and a gable chimney stack with a tall clay pot rises through the right verge. The west side is lit by a C20 casement.

Attached to the west elevation of the rear extension is an early C21 gabled conservatory on a brick plinth. The south elevation is lit by an early C19 six-over-six pane sash and there is a bricked up doorway to the right. Above is a large C20 dormer wholly within the roof space. The west elevation of the main timber framed range contains a similar window. The south elevation of this range, from the right, presents the gable end which is lit by early C19 six-over-six pane sashes on both floors. The roof pitch then falls steeply westwards down to ground-floor level over a large horizontal multi-pane C20 window. INTERIOR: the timber frame is partially exposed and it is likely that the remainder is hidden beneath later plaster. The sill beam is visible along the east and south walls, as are all four corner posts, except the north-west post at ground-floor level. The corner posts at the south end are jowled. The former bay division at the northern end of the ground floor is indicated by a chamfered and stopped bridging joist spanning the principal posts which have mortices for former arch braces. The east wall frame has substantial principal and intermediate posts, but in the southern bay and south end wall, the framing is of a slender scantling with down bracing from post to sill beam.

At first-floor level, the west wall has closely spaced framing of large scantling with curved tension braces, heavily weathered, with grooves in the rail where staves were fixed for the wattle and daub. A horse shoe has been inserted between two of the members. The northern bay division has chamfered shallow arch bracing to the tie beam, a graceful piece of carpentry appropriate for the solar. The bay division between the southern bays is indicated by intermediate posts and a chamfered and stopped bridging beam. The roof consists of rough hewn coupled rafters jointed and pegged at the ridge. Cut away sections indicate the position of former collar rafters. The side purlins are supported by inclined struts rising from the tie-beam. Some later bracing has been introduced, including collar rafters which have been nailed into place.

The elements of note in the late C18 and C19 additions to the house include the red and black tiled floor in the entrance porch, and the front door with its brass lock case. In the rear extension the curved dogleg stair rises from the north-east corner and has stick balusters supporting a mahogany handrail. The principal room in the extension has exposed beams with a delicate roll moulding along the edges, and a parquet floor laid in herringbone. The range survives in the kitchen, as does the copper, glazed ceramic sink and pump in the washroom/scullery.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bingley, R, Behold the Painful Plough: Country Life in West Tilbury, Essex, 1700-1850 , (2009)


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

The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

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: 19 Sep 1999
Reference: IOE01/01028/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Robert Brabner. Source Historic England Archive
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