Building record GOS 036 - Hall Cottage

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Hall Cottage is a grade-II listed timber-framed and thatched building open-hall house of circa 1400 that retains a number of fine original features.


Grid reference Centred TM 1616 5556 (10m by 8m)
Map sheet TM15NE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Hall Cottage is a grade-II listed timber-framed and thatched building open-hall house of circa 1400 that retains a number of fine original features. It has been a tenanted cottage on the Helmingham Hall Estate from at least the early-19th century until its recent sale. In 1842 it was occupied by a ‘horse driver’ working on a neighbouring farm. At just 4.1 m (13.5 ft) in width internally the building lay at the lower end of the social scale and is accordingly of special historic interest (as smaller medieval houses were prone to later rebuilding and are far less common than their higher-status counterparts). It reflected the standard domestic layout of its period with a spacious open hall of 6.1 m in length (20 ft) heated by an open hearth with a pair of service rooms on the left (west). A parlour bay or wing probably lay to the right but has been demolished and any evidence of blocked doors in the present gable is hidden by later plaster. A chimney was inserted against the cross-passage in the 16th century along with a ceiling of neatly chamfered joists, and the original ‘low-end’ wall of the hall has been removed to create the modern kitchen in the service bay. The heavy, square-sectioned joists of the latter’s medieval ceiling are impressive survivals which contain a framed trap for the original stair against the back wall and empty mortises for a missing axial partition. Unusually for its date the rear service room was smaller than the front, and entered by a narrower door – probably as the result of the limited width available. Three original windows with evidence of diamond mullions were exposed at the time of inspection, and a fine and rare ‘durn’ entrance doorway has since been revealed by removing modern dry-lining. A heavily soot-encrusted collared-rafter roof survives above the hall with evidence of a rare smoke vent retaining its original wattle-and-daub floor that allowed smoke to escape above the collars via an open gablet.

Its status as an estate cottage allowed the house to escape the usual over-restoration of the 20th century. Inexpensive dry-lining was used to conceal the timber frame, replacing early-19th century lath-and-plaster, and early decorative surfaces and other features that might otherwise have been lost have survived accordingly. 17th century grey pigment is visible beneath later whitewash on the service joists, for example, and additional colour or wall paintings may well lie hidden elsewhere. The low headroom in the kitchen, which in places offers clearance of no more than 1.5 m (5 ft), results from a combination of subsidence and the successive laying of new floors above old. The original floor would have been at least 0.3 m lower relative to the ceiling, and it is unlikely that any medieval archaeology will be lost by reducing the present floor to this degree. Fragments of a 19th century gault-brick floor are visible in the pantry but its extent is unclear (and it could be re-laid at a lower level if necessary). Care should be taken to avoid damaging medieval hearths if excavating in the former hall (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2017. Heritage Asset Assessment: Hall Cottage, Gosbeck.

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Record last edited

Sep 16 2019 11:23AM

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