Birches and barn to the east


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Cleeton St. Mary, Kidderminster, DY14 0QR


Ordnance survey map of Birches and barn to the east
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Statutory Address:
Cleeton St. Mary, Kidderminster, DY14 0QR

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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Hopton Wafers
National Grid Reference:


Smallholder's or squatter’s cottage, originating in the late-C18 or early-C19, and barn, mid-C19.

Reasons for Designation

Birches, a late-C18 or early-C19 cottage, and the associated barn, are listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * originating in a period where there is a presumption in favour of listing, the cottage retains a substantial proportion of the historic fabric from the first, and later-C19 phases of building; * an increasingly rare representation of a very humble, simple form of domestic accommodation, once common in the rural area; * inherently plain and meagre in their construction and interiors, the buildings retain their simple plan forms, and their historic development is evident in the building fabric; * the cottage is a locally distinctive building which embodies vernacular traditions in terms of its form and materials, particularly through the incorporation of an animal shelter into the domestic accommodation.

Historic interest: * a squatter’s or small-holder’s dwelling and barn, reflective of the development of the rural economy through its association with small-scale agricultural and industrial practices.


Birches is a smallholder’s or squatter's cottage which stands on the edge of Silvington Common and Catherton Common, and to the east of Clee Hill. The moorland of the area provided common grazing for livestock, and, increasingly from the C16, farming was supplemented by the industrial activity of mineral extraction. These coal mining and stone quarrying opportunities drew ‘pioneer’ smallholders, who would often build cottages on a piece of wasteland paying an annual fee to the landowner. Smallholdings and squatters' cottages can be found fringing these industrial sites and encroaching onto the moorland.

The first available map evidence for Birches is the Ordnance Survey original series 1” of 1832, which shows a single range, as does the Tithe map of 1845. A joint in the masonry of the main range of the building suggests it was built in two phases; the western part is presumed to be the earliest, and initially was a single-cell, two-storey cottage, onto which an animal shelter was built to the east, and another room to the west. The associated barn had been built by 1885.

The animal shelter was turned into domestic accommodation in the mid-C20. The first floor, and internal doorways, have been inserted. The original external entrance to the animal shelter, on the south elevation, has been blocked and replaced by a window. A large extension (excluded from the listing) was built along the south elevation of the building in the early to mid-C20.


Smallholder's or squatter’s cottage, originating in the late-C18 or early-C19, and barn, mid-C19.

MATERIALS: the cottage is constructed from painted rubble stone and has a synthetic slate roof. The barn, also stone, has a tiled roof.

PLAN: the cottage occupies a rectangular footprint orientated east-west. It has a substantial external chimneystack on the west gable, adjacent to which is a small extension. A large, C20 outshut extension stands against the southern elevation.

The small barn stands a short distance to the east, separated by the access driveway. It is rectangular on plan, orientated east-west.

EXTERIOR: the cottage is a linear range of a single storey with an attic, with a pitched roof. The northern elevation is blind but for a small square window opening. The southern elevation is largely obscured by the large, mid-C20 kitchen extension* (excluded from the listing), above which rise two pitched dormers. On the right is a window, formed from an earlier door opening into the former animal shelter. A wide, stepped stone chimneystack stands external to the west gable, abutted by a single-storey extension beneath a pitched roof. The east elevation has a window on the ground floor; windows are irregularly sized and have C20 casements.

The barn is a simple pitched-roofed structure with a doorway and small square window in the southern elevation. There is a square taking-in door in the western gable end.

INTERIOR: as would be expected in such a humble building, interiors are plainly detailed. The principal room on the ground floor has a wide fireplace with a C19 cooking range, and two deep axial beams in the ceiling. In the eastern room, formerly an animal shelter, the joists to the inserted first floor are exposed. The winder stair is enclosed with simple panelling. On the first floor, there is a bedroom on either side of the central landing; that to the west has a cast iron fireplace. Both bedrooms have matchboarded ceilings with the single rank of purlins exposed.

In the barn, there are roughly-hewn joists supporting the floor above. The loft is ceiled with matchboarding.

* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that C20 extension adjoining the south elevation of the cottage is not of special architectural or historic interest.




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 buildings are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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