No.85, High Street.

By David Miller

The thatched part of the cottage is dated in the Historic Monuments List as being possibly 16th century. The brick built part is obviously later, probably around the 1880's.  There are further extensions at the rear, mostly in timber.

There is clear evidence internally that the property, like many others in Orwell, was originally a one or two roomed cottage open to the roof, and probably with a small fire on some stones in the middle of the floor. The smoke would find its way up into the roof, and there might have been a small opening in the thatch to let it out.  Some of the timbers in the roof look as if they have been blackened by the smoke and soot.

At a later date, conditions would have been improved by having a proper fireplace for cooking, and better arrangements for letting the smoke out - either a wooden smoke hood, or even a proper chimney.  Brick became affordable for properties of this size from around 1550, so a chimney might have been installed at any time after that date. Some of the timbers in the original roof had to be cut out to make way for the chimney  -  see photos.

Once smoke was conducted outside by a chimney, the roof space became useable for extra accommodation.  A floor was inserted - see photos - and this in turn would call for stairs for access and a window to light upstairs. The stairs might originally have been a ladder, but built in stairs were common, and often curled up beside the chimney to save space.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'No.85, High Street.' page
Photo:Main fireplace. The alcove where the vase stands must originally have been a bread oven.

Main fireplace. The alcove where the vase stands must originally have been a bread oven.

Photo:The clasped purlin construction is common to all old properties in the village. Note the probable smoke blackening. The sawn-off rafter shows where the dormer window was added.

The clasped purlin construction is common to all old properties in the village. Note the probable smoke blackening. The sawn-off rafter shows where the dormer window was added.

Photo:A main tie beam has been cut to allow better access upstairs. The joint on the right is a notched lap joint - a very early type of joint used in the 15th century. It may indicate that this property is older than first thought, or that the timber has been re-used.

A main tie beam has been cut to allow better access upstairs. The joint on the right is a notched lap joint - a very early type of joint used in the 15th century. It may indicate that this property is older than first thought, or that the timber has been re-used.

Photo:The front door is of the traditional three-plank pattern.

The front door is of the traditional three-plank pattern.

Photo:The heavy beam at the top of the photo was added at the time the first floor was installed in order to support the floor joists.

The heavy beam at the top of the photo was added at the time the first floor was installed in order to support the floor joists.

Photo:Orwell cottages did not generally have ridge timbers.  This one is typical.

Orwell cottages did not generally have ridge timbers. This one is typical.

Photo:Another old three plank door - as rustic as it gets!

Another old three plank door - as rustic as it gets!

This page was added by Sue Miller on 10/01/2013.

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