Architecture - 7 Walnut Tree Road

Observations

The left hand side of the house (facing the front), is an older 2 bay cottage arranged gable end onto the road. The front (nearest the road) bay was originally an open hall. Internally we can see the first floor was inserted later due to the arrangement of the main ceiling beam and joist ends, and also the floor levels in the front and rear first floor rooms are slightly different which suggests they were independently built. The rear bay appears to have been the original buttery and pantry with solar over, accessed by a ladder type stair. A central ceiling beam divides this room into two. The beam may be original but was altered when the chimney stack was inserted at a later date. The rear wall of the room has no exposed timbers and has been subject to alterations in the past as has the south west wall in part.

This part of the house probably dates back to the late 15th/early 16th Century. It is of post and truss construction with clasped purlin roof. The principal posts are  jewelled. The walls are studded with timbers fairly widely spaced apart. Due to the later alterations to the roof where the side wing was added, the original rafters above the open hall have been removed and those that are retailed, are concealed from view. Very little of the roof structure is visible due to the presence of insulation, plastic sheeting and plaster finishes. The visible timbers in the roof above the rear bay are a mixture of rounded and larger squared rafters in addition to modern timber, suggesting a number of changes in the past.

The large centrally situated chimney stack in this wing is a later addition as it is built around the central tie beam and probably dates from the 17th Century. It appears that the floor was inserted into the former open hall at around this time and a staircase built to provide access. The staircase wraps around next to the chimney tightly up against the wall of the hall and does not pass below the central roof truss tie beam which divided the two bays. Access to the two first floor rooms was independent until the tie beam was cut through at a much later date and after the additional wing was constructed to the side.

The house was extended to the side, three storeys in height but at least constructed over two floors This is a more complex way of extending and suggests two possibilities:- firstly, a  third bay was present to the existing house in front of the open hall, meaning that the house was closer to the road. Extending off the central former open hall would create a “T” shaped plan. Secondly, the land ownership did not extend far enough beyond the hall bay to build a cross wing. The enclosure maps appear to show a line passing closer to the house than at present and it is possible in the seventeenth century that that boundary of Little Green was right up against the front of the house.  This is a similar arrangement to Ivy Cottage, Crab Tree Lane, where the lack of space to enlarge to the front has necessitated enlarging to the side.

This additional wing was built unheated and had a catslide roof to the rear over the small outshut. This part was open up to the roof and separate from the first floor room as the timber studwork is evident on the current landing. Some carpenters marks are present to some of the vertical timbers. This wing consists of a single bay with clasped purlin roof. The purlins are jointed to a ridge beam that was inserted into the roof over the original part of the building. One of the purlins has a through splayed scarfe joint but is nailed rather than jointed suggesting the timber is reused or the work of an unskilled craftsman as it is a simple joint. The timbers are of a “lighter” type than to the original and are braced diagonally at first floor level by straight tension braces which are typical of late 17th/early 18th century.

The fireplace was built externally on the side wall in brick and internally is curved. A similar fireplace design was found inserted into an earlier fireplace opening at 16 Great Green, and another similarly designed contemporary fireplace has been seen at Warrengate Farm, Tewin, Herts, built in the early 18th Century (English Heritage Building ID: 356239). A fireplace is also present at first floor level.