More Than Meets The Eye

43 College Square, Stokesley:

In May 2015 members of the North Yorkshire Vernacular Architecture Study Group conducted a survey of an unpretentious cottage on College Square. To all outward appearances, this is of early Georgian date, but closer inspection revealed a number of quirks which had the investigators fascinated.
While the detailed results with accompanying drawings will not be available until later, we are delighted to be able to publish a brief set of preliminary findings provided by local expert Barry Harrison, who for many years has conducted study groups all over the Riding and beyond.

Barry says of the cottage:

"This seems to be one of a row of at least four two-storey cottages, one and a half rooms deep with brick walls laid in stretcher bond (a relatively early type). They are likely to be of c.1720-40 date.
The plan of No.43 is however more archaic, suggesting that has been rebuilt at this period but preserving features of a mid/late 17th century type:

(1) The fireplace of “inglenook” type, with its long bressumer beam1 running between the front wall and a heck partition. The face of the beam has been smoothed out, but a continuous chamfer at the rear shows it to be a genuine 17th century member. Of similar date is the door into the passage at the south end. It is of a type associated with the mid-17th century.
(2) Beyond the fireplace there is a deep recess which has certainly been a passage (“heck passage”) to a door in the north gable of the building. Alternatively this door once led into a passage between this house and a similar house which formerly stood to the north, where a 3 storeyed stone house of c.1800 now stands. Joints in the walling suggests that this too was rebuilt from an earlier structure.
(3) The cottage was almost certainly single-storeyed in its earliest phase. The walling was renewed and the eaves heightened (allowing proper upstairs rooms rather than a loft area) early in the18th century. A new roof (of softwood construction) was inserted, probably at the same time.
(4) The present staircase is almost certainly Victorian. The original “ladder type” staircase would have run along against the back wall of the living room. The living room would thus have been larger before the Victorian insertion, with the front door opening directly into the room.

This house is thus of great interest, parts of it going back circa 350 years. It would be interesting to carry out inspections of other cottages in the row, which may well have similar features.
A full report and a set of drawings will be available later in the Summer"

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