Building record NDG 005 - Vine Cottage

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Massive Elizabethan chimney stack & pots with large open `4 arched' fireplace on first floor inside small (later) C17 timber framed cottage.


Grid reference Centred TM 0113 4929 (17m by 17m)
Map sheet TM04NW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Massive Elizabethan chimney stack & pots with large open `4 arched' fireplace on first floor inside small (later) C17 timber framed cottage. Cottage built on to earlier C16(?) timber framed cottage. Refurbishments in 1975 to C16 cottage located circular burnt hearth on bricks in centre of floor (i.e. no chimney), which ws lowered so now destroyed, mummified cat between ceiling & first floor (near Elizabethan fireplace) and childs shoe containing complete `fertility stone' (now broken & half missing) sealed in mortice joint at first floor level (see sketch plan in file)(S1).
Chimney suggests more substantial building, possibly surrounded by C13(?) moat - see Med.

Vine Cottage typifies the evolution of English domestic houses between the 15th and 17th centuries, and is among the most complete examples of its kind in Suffolk. It has four distinct phases of construction that can be identified within its timber frame. The oldest part of the structure belonged to an open-hall house of the early-15th century that was never entirely rebuilt, as in most cases, but was successively altered and adapted over some 200 years to keep pace with local fashions. As the influence of the European Renaissance penetrated even into rural Suffolk at the turn of the 16th century, the draughty, smoky medieval hall (open to its roof in the manner of a barn and heated by a bonfire-like open hearth) was provided with the new sophistication of a chimney. This chimney was inserted into the angle of the cross-passage and front wall, leaving the ‘high’ table and bench intact. At the same time, or perhaps a few decades later, a ceiling was inserted, and glass may even have made it way into windows that had previously been little more than smoke vents. Towards the end of the Tudor period the former open hall was entirely rebuilt to accommodate a fireplace in the newly fashionable position between hall and parlour, but timbers from both the original hall and its inserted ceiling were recycled to tell their tale. Finally, around 1630, the parlour was again rebuilt to meet the growing need for more space in what had become a family living room rather than simply a
bedchamber, and to incorporate the latest in central heating - an impressive brick chimney of three flues. This fourfold pattern of housing development is well recognised, but very rarely illustrated so thoroughly in a single building. When the extraordinary discovery of medieval pots beneath its floor is added to the equation, together with fine ovolo-moulded windows and evidence of 17th and 18th century superstition in the form of a child’s shoe and mummified cat, Vine Cottage is revealed as a fascinating microcosm of English history (S2).

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2005. Historical Survey: Vine Cottage, Nedging Tye.
  • <S1> (No record type): Unnamed builder, January 1993.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: sketch plan & elevation.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Nov 13 2019 4:04PM

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