24 High Street, Hereford House (St Andrew's Parish)
The street frontage here conceals one of Droitwich's most important buildings, and one which is of national importance. The original construction date of 1456 means this building is significant as one of the earlier surviving timber-frame structures in the town, but it is the form of the building which makes it much more noteworthy. The analysis undertaken has revealed that this is Worcestershire's first discovered Wealden house, so filling a gap in the plotting of this building type across the Midlands.
This is a building of three parts: two end bays of two storeys each, and a central open hall which would have had a hearth in its centre from which the smoke would have risen to the roof timbers and, in theory, exited by a louvre in the roof. (In practice, the smoke would have stained the upper timbers of the two trusses at each end of the hall.) The outward appearance of the street frontage would have been distinctive, with its recessed middle bay that had an arched coving at first floor level.
It is likely that little change occurred to this structure in the following two or three centuries, although the insertion of ceilings in the upper rooms of the two end bays in the late 16th or early/mid 17th century cannot be ruled out. Similarly, a ceiling/first floor might have been added to the middle bay open hall in those time periods.
It is, however, in the 18th century that this building underwent very
substantial changes. The street frontage of this building was moved
northwards, which required the construction of a completely new brick
front wall at all levels and, as an attic floor was added, included a
new higher roof; and with new windows to match at all levels. But the
structural timbers of the 15th century building remained embedded in
this new creation of Georgian date, and are still there.
Further changes occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries to the doors
and windows of the ground floor; at this level the building was divided
into two shops which needed their own entrances.
Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) has given us the date of
construction, and as the owner has kindly permitted access on many
occasions, it has been possible to work out a fairly good picture of the
building's architectural development. As ongoing refurbishment reveals
further original components, the project welcomes the opportunity to
make further visits to record the building, which we understand (with
gratitude) will be facilitated. Droitwich owes huge thanks to the
current owner, Robert Pritchard, for his ongoing co-operation with the
aims of this project, and his willingness to make access available in
future so that everything which can be deduced from ongoing involvement
with the building can be captured to add to the record of the heritage
of the town.
Documentary research has added to the picture and enabled us to put names to the owners and some occupiers back into the 1760s.
Click on the links below to see more detail about the various time periods
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