Three Gables


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Three Gables, Anchor Lane, Dedham Heath, Dedham, Colchester, CO7 6BX


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Statutory Address:
Three Gables, Anchor Lane, Dedham Heath, Dedham, Colchester, CO7 6BX

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

Colchester (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A C17 thatched and timber framed cottage.

Reasons for Designation

Three Gables Cottage in Dedham Heath, Essex, dating to the C17, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * for the near complete survival of the timber frame and remaining wattle and daub infill; * for the clear legibility of the original plan form of the cottage.

Historic interest: * as a rare surviving example of rural vernacular architecture dating originally to the C17.


Three Gables cottage appears to date to the late C17. It is one of the earliest surviving properties remaining in Dedham Heath. The First Edition Ordnance Survey (Essex, 1875) shows the building with the current footprint, although it appears to show a further structure beyond the remaining lean-to which is no longer evident on the 2nd Edition OS (Essex, 1923). The 1875 map shows the property surrounded by several orchards and other smaller dwellings. Census returns in the later C19 and early C20 show that the house was lived in by George Lott, perhaps part of the same local family as William Lott who has become closely associated with John Constable’s The Haywain, and 'Willy Lott’s Cottage' which features in the painting. The house has had only two owners in the second half of the C20 and has recently been refurbished by the current owners. This has included removal of two chimney stacks to the rear of the property. There are french doors and a dormer in place of the stack on the rear elevation.


A late-C17 thatched and timber-framed cottage.

MATERIALS: the primary materials of the building are its timber frame and red-brick skin. The roof of the cottage is thatched and the lean-to is slated. The windows are timber-framed replacement units, though there is one historic small lead paned window.

PLAN: the building has an L-plan footprint which is formed of the main block of the cottage and a lean-to which projects from the southern end of the rear elevation. There is a small porch on the front elevation.

DESCRIPTION: the cottage is of a single storey with attic, and has a box timber frame. The front elevation is symmetrical with the gabled porch in the centre and two casement style windows on either side. The original timber frame of the front (west) elevation has been given a single course brick skin in stretcher bond. There is a mid-late C19 single storey lean-to to the east elevation. The lean-to is rendered and has simple pargetting decoration. The south elevation is rendered and has a small original window on the ground floor and a later offset window opening on the upper floor. The northern elevation has a lower section of painted brick, the upper section is weather-boarded. The windows have been replaced with timber-framed double-glazed casement units to match the previous glazing pattern. The roof is thatched and there are three gabled wall-head dormers. A central brick ridge stack rises above.

INTERIOR: the interior retains its original floor plan of two rooms at ground and first-foor levels, with a central axial passage way on the ground floor. There is a porch which appears to have been added in the C19, but which retains the earlier front door as the main entrance to the building.

The timber frame remains intact and is extensively exposed throughout the building. There are chamfered spine beams with cross joists in the dining and sitting rooms on the ground floor, many of which contain nail holes from the attachment of laths. The walls are composed of close studwork resting on a sill and supporting the wall plate, which has been renewed in places. Cross braces are visible in the ground-floor rooms, linking the posts and studs. Some of the original timber frame within the dining room and sitting room is concealed behind new stud walling.

There is a large inglenook fireplace with large exposed bressumer in the dining room. The brick stack is visible as it rises through the cottage. There are a pair of corner cupboards in the dining room with classically detailed door-cases with fluted pilasters and a dentilled cornice. The stair splits to left and right as it rises. There is a bedroom and small WC to the left, and the master bedroom is to the right. There is also a small landing above the entrance passage below. The master bedroom contains a panel of exposed wattle between the door and the exposed brick chimney stack, and has a cupboard which may have previously had a coffin hatch.

The roof is a collar purlin structure; the collars exposed in the two bedrooms and the remaining structure remains in-situ above recently installed ceilings. The later lean-to contains the kitchen and is lined with timber boarding. The timber frame with brick noggin infill is exposed in the western wall, which was the exterior wall of the building when first constructed. Other original features in the building include a number of historic boarded doors, retaining historic ironwork.

This list entry was subject to a minor amendment on 14 February 2019.


Books and journals
Brunskill, R W, Timber Building in Britain, (1994)


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

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