Building record DBN 204 - 38 High Street

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Grade II-listed timber-framed and rendered building


Grid reference Centred TM 1738 6318 (36m by 17m)
Map sheet TM16SE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Grade II-listed timber-framed and rendered building that forms an exceptionally long but narrow range at right-angles to the High Street. It includes an exceptionally well preserved jettied gatehouse which is fully integral to the frame and the property represents an unusual and intriguing late-15th century structure of considerable historic interest. Despite considerable alteration and mutilation over the years, not least during an extensive and unsympathetic refurbishment of the 1970s or 80s, its original layout can still be deciphered with some precision. This differed considerably from the contemporary norm, with a front room of two bays entered directly from the street and linked by an opposing door with a moulded surround to a small inner room of just 2.4 m (8 ft) in length. Two further bays at the back of the building were largely rebuilt when they were converted into a stable during the mid-19th century but retain a sooted first-floor partition indicating they were at some time used as a brew-house, dye-house or maltings. No. 38 evidently formed part of a rear courtyard belonging to an early-15th century merchant’s house on the north (nos. 32-36). This house contains an open hall with a crenellated dais beam abutting the gatehouse, and it seems likely that no.38 occupies the site of its former parlour cross-wing. The walls of the hall were originally no higher than the gatehouse jetty but were raised in the 16th century to create a Wealden House with overhanging eaves supported by the gatehouse and the jetty of the service bay at no. 32. The tithe survey of 1837 suggests common ownership extended as far as The Limes at no. 30. The present chimney in the front room of no. 38 is a 16th century insertion (albeit largely rebuilt in the late-20th century) and it is not clear whether the original building was heated. Given its internal link to the courtyard range on the upper storey it seems the suite of two rooms adjoining the street was designed for a semi-independent member of the household or perhaps a business clerk rather than a separate ‘renter’, although the building was later converted for this purpose. Whatever its exact function no. 38 illustrates the complex manner in which urban building plots could evolve during the 15th and 16th centuries (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2014. Heritage Asset Assessment: 38 High Street, Debenham.

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Record last edited

Apr 16 2019 3:31PM

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