Building record WBG 131 - The Bridewell, 91-93 New Street

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A late-medieval timber-framed merchant’s house, dating from the final quarter of the 15th century.


Grid reference Centred TM 2724 4915 (19m by 9m)
Map sheet TM24NE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

A late-medieval timber-framed merchant’s house, dating from the final quarter of the 15th century. The present name of the property relates to its use in the 17th century as a gaol. The building follows the standard room plan of medieval houses but contains a number of unusal features. The central hall was open to the roof, and heated by an open hearth or bonfire that burnt on the floor, but the ends of the house were provided with upper storeys from the outset. The roof timbers of the hall are still heavily encrusted with soot from the medieval hearth. To the right of the hall lay the cross-passage by which the house was entered (as it still is), and beyond that a pair of service (storage) rooms reached by two doorways positioned side by side in the middle of the passage. The front service room was designed as a shop, and is very well preserved. To the left of the central hall, lower down the steep gradient of New Street, lay a single room known as a parlour which would have served as the principal bedroom of its owner. A brick chimney was inserted at this end of the hall during the 16th century, heating both hall and parlour. The structure is jettied only at its service gable, it is extremely rare to encounter “end-jetties” of this kind in East Anglia. The chamber over the floored “undershot” cross-passage and service rooms contains a plain crown-post for purely structural reasons,however the hall was built in a single bay and lacks any embellishment at roof level. Further features worthy of remark, include a curiously small window in the parlour gable which may perhaps have permitted its occupants to keep an eye on the contents of a separate workshop or warehouse further down the hill. A low structure of 15th or 16th century date, sadly much altered and concealed, now blocks this window but may well have served as a workshop of some kind. Among the most impressive features of the house is the almost complete plank-and-muntin screen, inserted in the 16th century to fully separate the cross-passage from the hall and increase the amount of available privacy. Screens of this kind once existed in most houses, but even fragmentary survivors are now rare (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2001. Historical Survey: The Bridewell, New Street, Woodbridge.

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Record last edited

Nov 4 2019 2:12PM

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