24th Oct, 2017

Historic Droitwich's amazing discovery - High Street premises hid 500-year-old building

Lorna Morris 17th Mar, 2017

RESEARCHERS from the Historic Droitwich project have discovered the remains of a unique 500-year-old building, a style never before seen in Worcestershire, hidden behind a town shop and house.

Using detailed building surveys, researchers revealed the unique architectural discovery hidden behind the late 18th Century brick frontage of Hereford House at 24 High Street.

The substantial remains are of a rare type of medieval house, never found in the county before, which tree-ring dating has proved was built in 1455.

Thanks to a grant of £36,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Historic Droitwich project was launched in October 2013 and will run to the end of March 2017 with the aim of researching the oldest surviving historic buildings in the town.

Historic buildings investigator Stephen Price, who has been working on Droitwich’s ancient buildings for the project, said: “This is the first example in Worcestershire of a type of medieval house that is well represented in south-east England, especially Kent and Sussex, where it has been dubbed the Wealden house.

“Scholars have traced examples in Warwickshire and Herefordshire, but until now no examples have ever been found in Worcestershire.”

Owner Robert Pritchard welcomed the news about the building’s age and significance and said: “We knew the building had once been a public house, the Waggon and Horses, and that because of the extraction of brine it achieved local fame as The Crooked House with its uneven floors and tilting walls, but we had no idea of its antiquity.”

The Historic Droitwich project has more results to reveal about the dates of other Droitwich buildings and will launch its website next Saturday (March 25) at Droitwich Library starting at 10am with a talk by John Holden on Captain Coningsby Norbury.

Lyn Blewitt, chair of the Historic Droitwich Project, said: “We would never have suspected that a 500-year-old building lay behind the 200-year-old façade of Hereford House.

“Without National Lottery players, the ready co-operation of the owners and occupiers of the town’s ancient buildings who have welcomed us into their homes and businesses, discoveries like this would not have been possible.”

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