Saturday, February 1, 2014
Around the house
I have posted before about some of the timber-framed buildings of the western counties of England, an area that has many wonderful buildings of this kind. Here's one of the best, in my opinion. It stands in the middle of Evesham, and even long ago when Evesham was as full of black and white as a flock of magpies,* it must have stood out. It dates to the 15th century, and the framing is very much as it would have been then – lovely, quite close-studded woodwork, jetties (overhangs) to both upper floors, and all. The windows are later – they're in fact fairly recent replacements made mostly along the lines of the 19th-century windows that were there before the building was restored in the 1960s. Other post-medieval additions include the massive props to the left-hand side, which were put there to stop a pronounced westward lean becoming terminal. They worked, and we are the beneficiaries.
But what is it, this glorious, big building? It was built by someone prosperous, that is for sure – the ample timber work and jetties suggest that. Its usual name, the Round House, seems rather perverse, and fails to give the game away. Although it's not literally round, the building's exterior on its island site in the market place, can be walked around, so that's presumably the excuse for the name. There's another name, the Booth Hall, which suggests it's a market building. But the authors of the Pevsner Worcestershire volume doubt that its lower floor ever housed booths, and there's no sign of any traces the open arches that would have allowed this. Pevsner thinks it may have begun life as an inn. That's possible. It certainly had pole position in the middle of the town. And its architecture raises the spirits now, just as its hospitality may once have done.
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*But not literally. These buildings are probably 'black and white' because of post-medieval colouring. Grey and off-white would have been more likely.