Lotfield Street - STREET WALK

This street runs from Town Green Road (where this walk begins) to a point where it meets Stocks Lane. We have also included the cottage on Cross Lane footpath.

By David Miller

The road defines the edge of the former village green, before it was fenced in and built on. See 'Orwell Village Green' for the full history. Even by 1686 (when a detailed map of the village was prepared) much of the green had disappeared, and Town Green Farm and Robert Fairchild's farm were taking up much of the space between this road and the remaining green. However, it is not hard to visualise the cottages facing out across the old green and, no doubt, with their allotments of cattle and sheep being kept on the green right in front of the houses.

The first property of interest is on the right, coming from Town Green Road, and now called Melrose Cottage. We are fortunate in having early photos showing how the cottage was before it was extensively altered.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page

 It would be hard to recognise the cottage compared with how it looks today. Here are some more photos - click on them to enlarge.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page

Inside, there is evidence of two bread ovens - does this mean that the cottage was once divided into two? There is some timber work showing, and the Listed Buildings List suggests that it is 17th century. The original fireplace remains, although it has been heavily repaired.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
The Chicheley Map, thought to date from 1686 approx, shows this cottage as being occupied by Widow Adams. She was well known for being an active dissenter, and was a supporter of the Muggletonians, a sect of Adventists who had a strong following in Orwell at the time.  The map also explains the rather strange orientation of the cottage, since it would have faced on to what was left of The Green at that time.

The next old cottages to look at are numbers 26 and 28. These are endways on to the road, and the Listed Buildings List suggests that they may have been originally used for 'special purposes.' They may have been barns - certainly they do not fit into the usual pattern for Orwell cottages. The Enclosure map of 1836 (see below) appears to show these as part of a range of farm buildings.

Photo:Lotfields nos 24 and 22.

Lotfields nos 24 and 22.

Photo:Chimney stack serving nos. 24 and 22 Lotfield Street.

Chimney stack serving nos. 24 and 22 Lotfield Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 22 Lotfield Street is the very old looking house which has all the timber exposed. This has to be considered in conjunction with the range of buildings which is joined on to it by way of the red brick chimney stack.  This was originally all one property, and it fits into the standard pattern for the larger houses of Orwell, namely a 'T' shaped floor plan, with a range built along the stem of the 'T' parallel with the road, and a crosswing at one end, in this case with a jetty. The old photo of these buildings taken from the back shows more clearly that these cottages, now owned separately, were once a single house. The timber was not exposed then - in fact, it was unusual for the wooden structure to be exposed on any Orwell house until recently. However, the timber does now reveal what may be the frame of a former shop window beside the front door. Listed Buildings List entry.

Photo:Lotfields (No.22) from the rear in 1952

Lotfields (No.22) from the rear in 1952

An internal photo of this house shows how the kitchen used to look. There is a single water tap on the wall with a bucket, and the design of the stools under the kitchen table suggests that this might be around 1960. There was a wall painting over the fireplace, but it had been covered up again by 1968 (RCHM.)

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page

The street bends sharp round to the left at the entrance to Meadowcroft Way. This area of land was known as 'The Marsh,' and the estate of houses on Meadowcroft Way there is still occasionally referred to as 'the Mash.' This is one of several places in Orwell where water frequently lies on the road surface, despite the modern drainage system. When the water freezes, it damages the road surface, which explains all the potholes and patches at this point.

Having gone round the corner and going back towards the church, there is a very small, and unimproved, cottage (No.16) on the right a little way up the street . The RCHM makes the interesting suggestion that the cottage was originally open to the roof, and that the first floor and the chimney are later improvements. It thinks that the moulded spine beam (somewhat elaborate for a very basic cottage) has come from another property. The later Listed Buildings List entry does not  make this assertion.

Photo:Ovolo moulding on the spine beam may indicate that this timber was re-used in No.16 from another property.

Ovolo moulding on the spine beam may indicate that this timber was re-used in No.16 from another property.

Photo:Possible smoke blackening on tie beam suggests that the fire was in the middle of the room and there was no first floor.

Possible smoke blackening on tie beam suggests that the fire was in the middle of the room and there was no first floor.

 

 

Photo:The brick and clunch part of Lotfields House.

The brick and clunch part of Lotfields House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lotfield House, almost opposite no. 16, is an example of a feature common in Orwell, namely that an old timber framed house has had a more modern building in a completely different style added on to it. In this case, the 'modern' building is thought to date from the late 1700's, while the timber building is said to be early 1600's. See Listed Buildings List, which suggests that the property might originally have been to the standard 'T' plan layout (see Barnards, in Town Green Road, for an example), but the stem of the T has been replaced by the three storey brick and clunch construction.  However, what remains of the timber part of the building does not necessarily support this, in that it is barely large enough to form a cross wing, or to be a parlour for the rest of the house. It might therefore have been the 'service' end of the house, being used as a dairy or bakehouse etc. There could have been a crosswing at the other end of the house, which has now disappeared.

Some of the outbuildings which belonged to the house as a farm have now gone, but there is one barn left, to the right of the plot as one faces it from the road. This was used as an apple store, and a wash house. 

There are some interesting details inside the timber part of the house. The bread oven is well preserved, and the jointing of the tie beam to the wall plate and the storey post upstairs is exposed and easy to examine.

Photo:Inside the well preserved bread oven.

Inside the well preserved bread oven.

Photo:Old apple store and wash house, now a 'granny annex.'

Old apple store and wash house, now a 'granny annex.'

Photo:Complex joint in the old roof structure. The arched tie beam, swell headed upright, and angle bracing  (cut away at a later date to improve headroom) are indicative of construction in the early 1600's.

Complex joint in the old roof structure. The arched tie beam, swell headed upright, and angle bracing (cut away at a later date to improve headroom) are indicative of construction in the early 1600's.

A little further along the road, and still on the left hand side, is number 11, an old cottage which has been extensively and very successfully restored, in spite of excessive interference by the Conservation Department and the Planners. These photos show the extent of the repairs which proved to be necessary.

Photo:All four walls called for similar treatment

All four walls called for similar treatment

Photo:The chimney stack at No.11 certainly needed repair!

The chimney stack at No.11 certainly needed repair!

Photo:The roof with the asbestos sheeting removed

The roof with the asbestos sheeting removed

Photo:The end result was worth it!

The end result was worth it!

The property is described in an old auction sale particulars (date around 1909) which also covers what must be Lotfield House. Note the fire insurance plaque which is displayed high up on the outside of the house, to inform a fire brigade that the house was insured, and that the brigade would be recompensed for attending. Without a plaque, would they have let the house burn down?

Photo:Auction Sale Particulars

Auction Sale Particulars

Photo:Insurance plaque  fixed to the outside of the cottage

Insurance plaque fixed to the outside of the cottage

Photo:An 'outside' window which is now inside.

An 'outside' window which is now inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the opposite side of Lotfield Street, there is the complex of buildings which once was Meadowcroft Farm. The farm operation itself is described here. Meadowcroft Cottage, right by the road, was the former farm house, but in the 1860's a new farmhouse was built, and this cottage was used for farm workers. It is actually an old 17th century building, but there is little left to see outside apart from one old window which can just be seen behind lattice glass upstairs in the angle of the two parts of the building.

Photo:Meadowcroft Cottage in 2012

Meadowcroft Cottage in 2012

However, the owners have allowed us to show some internal photos which they took during restoration, and which give a far better idea of what the property is really like. Click on this link.

The large timber barns have all been converted to residential use. In one of them, there is a date and a carved depiction of a windmill (See Listed Buildings List). We hope to cover these at a later date. There is a photo of the 'new' farmhouse, which is behind the barns and out of sight from the road, here.

 

 

Photo:1686 Chicheley Map

1686 Chicheley Map

Photo:1836 Inclosure Award Map

1836 Inclosure Award Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This brings us to the end of Lotfield Street, and the road takes a bend to the left and becomes Stocks Lane.  However, it is clear from the two maps above that Stocks Lane is a relatively modern road (see this page), and the 1686 map shows that the road bent sharply round to the left at this point, and there were some cottages fronting on to it.  In fact, one of the cottages is still there, and although it is strictly in Stocks Lane (or Cross Lane Footpath), it deserves a mention here because it was (and still is) a part of the original street scene.

Photo:20, Stocks Lane, on Cross Lane Footpath.

20, Stocks Lane, on Cross Lane Footpath.

It is everybody's idea of what an idyllic English cottage should look like. The back of the cottage is just as pretty as the front, while inside, the fireplace has some traditional cooking irons in place, and there is an open tread stair which, although modern, is in keeping with the style of the cottage. The chimney has pegs in it, probably for hanging meat for smoking or drying, and the lower part of the chimney is possibly made in wood (plastered on the inside, of course!) The thatch is tied to the rafters with string and is then plastered to make the ceiling. The photos (by kind permission of the owners) show these details. The Listed Buildings entry is here.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more property to mention - although, again, not really in Lotfield Street, is Wellington Cottage, the former Duke of Wellington pub. This will be covered in detail separately.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Lotfield Street - STREET WALK' page
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This page was added by David Miller on 12/04/2013.
Comments about this page

Thank you for this very detailed and interesting description and history of the road where we live. It must have taken many hours to uncover all this information!

By Vivien Constable
On 29/05/2013

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