Lower Green Farmhouse

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1352370
Date first listed:
18-Apr-1988
Date of most recent amendment:
02-Nov-2020
Statutory Address:
Lower Green, Felsham, Suffolk, IP30 0PP

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
Lower Green, Felsham, Suffolk, IP30 0PP

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

County:
Suffolk
District:
Mid Suffolk (District Authority)
Parish:
Felsham
National Grid Reference:
TL9486157190

Summary

A C16 vernacular farmhouse extended and altered into the C17, and subject to some further modification in later centuries.

Reasons for Designation

Lower Green Farmhouse, built as a vernacular dwelling in the C16 and extended in the first half of the C17, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* For the display of local distinctiveness in its materials and craftsmanship, making use of timber framing, wattle and daub in-filling, and clay plain tiled roofs;

* For the survival of its C16 three-cell plan form;

* For the high quality of the close studded timber framing;

* For the evidence of an original high quality scheme of painted decoration in the first floor parlour chamber;

Historic interest:

* As a C16 vernacular farmhouse which has survived in a substantially complete fashion since the last major alterations in the first half of the C17;

* For the layers of historical value found in its surviving internal features, especially the C17 painted decoration and the high quality panelling in the parlour, and the kitchen fireplace, pump and copper.

History

The farmhouse is a substantial C16 vernacular building that has been extended and altered in various phases throughout its history. At the time of the house’s construction the medieval village of Felsham was well established. The house is named ‘Lower Green’ Farmhouse for its relationship to one of the two village greens, and is also known as Apple Hall.

The building’s first phase was organised around a traditional three-cell plan form, with a service end at the south, a central hall with a cross passage, and a parlour at the upper end. Between the hall and the parlour was a chimney stack, possibly timber framed, which has since been replaced in brick. The service end was originally unheated and this large two-bay space shows signs of some small subdivisions, and a trimmer for a staircase against the western wall. The building has always been floored and contains its original roof structure over the hall and service bays: plain crown post trusses with wind-braced clasped purlins.

The upper end was significantly extended in the late C16 to provide a cross wing with a gable on the western elevation and, probably, a jetty on the principal eastern elevation. The timbers of the (then) newly constructed roof retain clear carpenters’ assembly marks. This was joined in a later phase by a second gabled cross wing attached to the west of the hall.

In the early C17 the service end was converted to a kitchen, with a brick-built chimney inserted against the south wall, broad enough almost to fill the width of the room and containing a bread oven. Apotrapaic marks along its oak bressumer indicate a concern for the supernatural that was common to many C17 households. Around the first half of the C17 further works to the interior also took place, including the introduction of small-field panelling throughout the parlour, and in the chamber above it a decorative scheme of wall painting showing patterns, birds and floral motifs. The painted scheme partially survives and is of a relatively high quality more usually found in urban and minor gentry houses in Suffolk.

Over the course of the C18 and C19 the building underwent several significant changes. The timber framing to the front (east) elevation, and to the north was covered over in render and its windows replaced. The 1838 Tithe Map for the Parish of Felsham shows that the building was divided into two dwellings, suggesting a decline in status that was common to vernacular farmhouses in this period. The subdivision of the house is likely to have caused the removal of all original staircases and the insertion of two new stairs. One of these stairs cuts across the line of the original cross passage. Surviving significant features from this period include a substantial ‘copper’ boiler adjacent to the fireplace in the old service end, and in the same room a C19 internal water pump.

By the C20 the house had been converted back into a single dwelling and has been remarkably little altered since. A fire in March 2020 has caused damage to areas in the earliest phase of the farmhouse, but without major loss to the building’s fabric.

Details

A C16 vernacular farmhouse extended and altered into the C17, and subject to some further modification in later centuries.

MATERIALS: the house is oak framed and stands on a brick plinth. The external walls have wattle-and-daub infill between close studs. The roof is covered in plain tiles and has two brick chimney stacks.

PLAN: the building has an L-shaped footprint, facing east with rear projects at the north end of the plan. Its original three-cell plan remains legible, but is overwritten by a lobby entrance between the parlour and hall, and a second front door into the kitchen that survives from the historic subdivision of the house.

EXTERIOR: the long principal elevation facing east shows the house’s two principal storeys, and a plain tiled roof, hipped at the north-eastern corner. Two chimneys break through the roof, one beneath the ridge line at the south end, and one through the ridge above the northern entrance. Scored render conceals the timber frame and the building’s six structural bays. There are two C19 gabled timber porches, the southernmost has a metal roof covering and a four-panelled door, and the northernmost has a tiled roof and a partly glazed door, possibly early C19 in origin. The fenestration is formed of irregularly placed timber casement windows: three each on the ground and first storeys. The two northernmost ground-floor windows use slender glazing bars common in the early C19.

The north elevation displays several phases of close-studded timber framing over two storeys, with a pitched roof hipped at the east end. The timbers are scarred with nail holes indicating the former presence of a lathe and render covering. The frame reveals certain areas of change: a long mullioned window inserted in the late C16 or early C17 at the ground floor is now blocked. The sill of an original window at first floor remains beneath a widened opening for a C19 three light casement. Alterations to the frame at the east end of this elevation suggest an earlier structure may have been added and removed.

The west elevation of the gabled extensions continues the close studding on all storeys, including the attic. The roofs of the gables meet in a valley and terminate in uncarved barge boards. The floor plate of the northern gable is lower than its neighbour. A vernacular mullioned window is placed roughly centrally on each storey of both gables.

The southern, return elevation of the gables has close studding at the first floor and a rendered wall surface at ground. There is a six-light timber window at ground floor and a simple wooden doorcase. The floor plate of the first floor has notches at its base and has been subject to alteration. The close-studded framing at first floor is original except for a timber casement window inserted centrally.

The west elevation of the principal range has two storeys beneath a pitched roof and continues the close studding found elsewhere. Vernacular mullioned windows are positioned in one corner of each structural bay on both storeys. A fire damaged entrance marks the former cross passage.

The gabled south elevation has no windows and does not display any timber framing. At the ground floor it is walled in red bricks laid in Flemish bond, and above that is a plain wall of render.

INTERIOR: the building’s roof structure is well preserved and includes in the four southern bays of the principal range plain crown posts and wind braced, clasped purlins. This section of roof also features some C19 graffiti. The two parallel east-west roofs of the cross wings are or different phases with common rafters and collars. The northernmost cross wing contains a set of clear carpenters marks across most of the timbers. At the north-east corner, the hipped roof appears to belong to a separate phase and may coincide with the removal of an east-facing jetty.

High quality historic flooring materials can be found throughout the house, with many rooms as well as the attics containing very wide oak boards. At the ground floor rooms make use of either pamment or brick flooring.

The building contains several significant internal features of note. At the first floor these include the partial survival of a decorative scheme of wall painting in the room above the parlour; showing a patterned frieze on three walls, and floral motifs beneath them. The same room features a small, early-C19 cast iron hobgrate in a plan surround. Three sections of re-sited small-field panelling can be found between the two southernmost rooms.

At the ground floor, the parlour walls are almost entirely clad in early- to mid- C17 small-field oak panelling, including around the outside of a chamfered structural beam (now completely concealed). The panelling has been designed to fit the precise proportions of the room and there are areas missing where windows were present historically. Some areas appear to have been reconfigured where alterations were made, and where the Art Nouveau fireplace has been inserted with its pine surround. Adjoining the parlour to the east is a utility room with a WC accessed under a staircase; the WC is entered through a C16 arch. The south wall of the utility room contains a blocked mullion window. In the former dairy/kitchen at the south end of the house there are a number of significant historic features, including a C19 pump above a well-hatch, hooks set into the ceiling beams, a C19 copper and large C17 fireplace with its bread oven. The chimney bresummer features numerous apotropaic taper burns and daisy wheels.

None of the three staircases remaining in the house are original, but may date from the late C18 or early C19.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
280805
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Other
1838 Tithe Map
Applicant supplied sources

Legal

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: 19 Jul 2006
Reference: IOE01/14902/22
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Maxwell Newport. Source Historic England Archive
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