21 ROYAL OAK LANE
The property is south east facing, gabled to the left hand side with 2 storey centre bay and extended in the 19th century to the right hand side. Further 20th century additions are present to the rear.
There is a centrally situated chimney stack between the centre bay and cross wing giving the appearance of a traditional lobby entrance house although the front door is not in front of the stack. This is discussed later.
The house is currently separated into two self contained dwellings although doorways still remain in position from when it was occupied as a single dwelling. The exterior is roughcast rendered with a drip board set above the ground floor windows where it appears that the walls have largely been replaced with brick and are of a greater depth then the timber framed areas above. Internally, there are few exposed ground floor wall timbers and large areas of first floor where the timbers have been concealed. The large fireplace and chimney stack is set at the abutment of the hall and cross wing. The hall fireplace abuts the front wall and the space beyond to the rear wall comprises of cupboards. As a result, the timbers at the abutment of these two sections of the building are not visible so it is not possible to confirm the sequence of construction through study of the wall timbers. The hall ceiling at first floor level continues up to the ridge so limited timbers are visible. There is a loft access in the cross wing in the rear section however insulation covers the ceiling joists so the inspection was restricted to the areas visible from the loft hatch. The abutment of the hall to the cross wing is not accessible and there was limited visibility from the loft hatch so again, it is not possible to confirm the sequence of construction within the roof space.
The cross wing comprises of a narrow wing which is roughly twice as long as wide. The ground floor appears to have been constructed as a single open room with a chamfered central beam running front to back with a chamfered cross beam jointed into the main beam at the central truss. There are no signs of stud slots to the central cross beam which would have divided the space into 2 small rooms. Upstairs the space is divided into 2 rooms with plastered ceilings without exposed timbers to the rear room. Within the roof space, the partition continues up to the underside of the roof where the roof truss is infilled with wattle and daub panels. The visible rear section was plastered and clearly used. It cannot be assumed that the front room would also have been open to the roof as there is a chamfered central ceiling beam present and that side of the truss is not accessible to confirm. The present ceiling joists to the first-floor rear room were probably inserted later for comfort as these rooms would have been draughty: a common improvement as the desire for comfort increased. The use of the rear room may have also changed as it is possible that this section of the house had a more nondomestic role such as craftsmen’s workshop, dairy, apple lofts etc.
The visible roof timbers contain many smoke blackened rafters; however, they appear to have been reused as the purlins which span the length of the roof supporting the rafters are not soot stained at all. In addition, a number of rafters are clearly out of their original place due to their soot free patterning where timbers had previously abutted them shielding them from smoke. The rafters appear to have originated from a hall house or a fire damaged building. It is possible that they have been reused from an earlier building on the site. Reuse of roof timbers has also been seen at Ivy Cottage.
Partition within the roof space
Smoke blackened rafters but note no blackening to adjoining partition, tie beam or purlin
The abutment of the cross wing to the hall is not clearly visible but the partition to the hall area which is open to the roof within the bedroom could just be seen. The main roof structural timbers are not visible enough in order to confirm the construction methods used to link these sections of roof which forms complex valleys. It does appear though that no gable is present from what would have been the former end wall of the house if the cross wing was a later addition. Whilst there was limited evidence of the remains of any timber battens across the rafters in this small section of the roof, it is not enough to establish that the cross-wing roof predates that of the hall.
Looking at the visible wall timbers in the cross wing, there does appear to be several reused timbers with unused slots and filled floor joist slots. Again this is a common occurrence. There are straight corner braces visible to the rear corners although the brace to the rear corner wall which abuts the hall is missing due to the doorway inserted to link the two sections of the property. The slot for the brace does remain and traces of bracing are visible through the plasterwork to the front room. Straight bracing suggests a date from the seventeenth century.
Studwork with straight corner bracing and slot for missing brace.
No sign of ceiling joists to upper floor rooms.
There are no signs that this cross wing was jettied unlike others seen in the village as the corner posts are situated right in the corners and the joists span in the wrong direction.
The hall part of the house is slightly shorter depth than the cross wing and comprises of a single bay with chimney bay and first floor above. Beyond this bay is a more modern addition, probably 19th century but may be a rebuild of a demolished bay.
Slots for studs and wattle and daub infill to former end wall of the house.
There is close studwork to this part of the house visible at first floor level to the front and rear walls. Tie beams mark the position of the bays. The recess beside the fireplace contains widely spaced floorboards which carry on through into the bedroom. There is no evidence that the staircase was positioned within this recess which is commonly found in lobby entry houses and houses within the village. The central ceiling beam in the hall is chamfered with stop end and the first-floor joists are visible. The former rear wall appears to be much altered as it does not span the full depth of the room and appears to have been altered to incorporate a doorway with modern timbers above and large oversized vertical support.
The large back to back fireplace is deep and is set between the hall bay and the cross wing. This contains fireplaces that heat the hall, cross wing (presumably used as the parlour), the chamber above the hall in a brick splayed fireplace, and the front room above the parlour in the cross wing where there is a shadow of the fireplace in the plasterwork. The hall fireplace has been largely rebuilt but a moulded bressumer beam remains.
This house may have evolved in a number of ways. Unfortunately the lack of exposure to the abutment of the hall and cross wing juncture means that a number of options cannot be ruled out:
Scenario 1 – Traditional 2 bay open hall farmhouse with later crosswing.
This possible evolution is based upon there having been a house on the site predating the existing building. It is possible that a single or one and a half storey house was enlarged by the addition of the two storey crosswing with its impressive parlour and two chambers above. The original part of the building is then demolished and replaced by the current hall and chimney bay.
Scenario 2 – as above.
This alternative evolution involves partial demolition of one of the bays in order to construct the cross wing and create the chimney bay. The roof may have been raised in order to create the full height upper floor in the hall.
Scenario 3 – Hall originally constructed two storey but two bays with gable chimney and cross wing consisted of non-domestic premises which was later adjoined.
This theory is based upon the nineteenth century bay being a rebuild of a bay which had fallen into disrepair/burnt down so the footprint was similar to that seen today in the front part of the house beyond the chimney stack. The cross wing could have been a mixed-use part of the building as there was little differentiation between living and working rooms. The buildings would have been separated which is evidenced by the cross brace which has been removed from the corner which otherwise blocks the only access from the hall chamber into the cross wing at first floor level. The cross wing is later fully used for residential use and the properties linked following the construction of the back to back fireplace and fireplace to the room above. The chimney stack is entirely rebuilt to a modern style.
Scenario 4 – Built in the seventeenth century replacing an existing formerly open hall farmhouse in a T plan style.
This theory is based upon the reused roof timbers in the cross wing being from the earlier dwelling and the timber framing with fairly close studwork to both sections being a symbol of its owners status at the time and not being significantly different enough to confirm later dating. T plan farmhouses are more common in the Midlands and may have been chosen to stand out from the more standard lobby entrance farmhouses in the village at this time such as Crab Tree Farm. The front door could not have been in the lobby farmhouse style due to the fireplace directly abutting the front wall. Instead it must have a direct entry layout and may have been in the same position as today into the hall. Similarly, the staircase does not appear to have been in the fireplace recess as this would block access to the cross wing and no evidence remains of one having been present there. This may have been in a similar position to that currently in the cross wing ie. in the far corner or may have been in the hall opposite the entrance. With the stairs in the cross wing, it is likely that the room was partitioned off towards the rear to create a service area with the partitioning long since removed.