Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

A bold front

Pargetting, decoratively moulded exterior plasterwork, is a technique I associate with Suffolk, where plastered walls bear images of flowers, fruit, heraldry, and all kinds of abstract patterns. But decorative plasterwork is also found farther west, and here it is in Hertfordshire, adorning the front of the former White Horse pub in Bishop's Stortford, a building that’s now a restaurant.

The White Horse was a pub for most of its life, closing in the 1930s, after which it was home to a succession of different shops. It has been a restaurant since the 1990s. The yard at the back, which housed the inn’s stables, has also been home to activities as diverse as a poultry market, a slaughterhouse, and a small brewery. So the building had a chequered history behind its bold and striking frontage.

The plasterwork on the facade is modern (I’ve seen early-20th century photographs of the building with plain plaster) and conceals a timber frame that dates back to the 16th century. The design is quite simple – mostly abstract patterns set off by bands of bunches of grapes – but it makes the building stand out and was catching the sun beautifully on the day I passed by.


Hels said...

Even though I don't drink beer, pubs were the centre of our social life during the London and Herts years - bad food, good wine and great company. Everyone was poor back then (early 1970s)!

So I grieve whenever a pub is closed, or changed into a laundrymat. There is something tragic about the closing of these lovely old institutions.

worm said...

I like it, although it is but a short hop to mock tudor and thence pebble dash!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: Yes: you are so right about pubs. (Laundrymats seem to be closing now, too.)

Philip Wilkinson said...

Worm: True. The step between the genuine and the "mock" is a short one. We are just the right side of the divide here, although even mock Tudor has its interest... said...

Bishop's Stortford was a staging post from London. John Evelyn dined here and changed horses here en route to Audley End, and the carters delivered mail to outlying manors in Essex etc.. Sadly, he does not mentioned the name of any hostelry, though I imagine the names were changed with changes of ownership from time to time.
Your blog is now on my list. thank you.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Frozenink: Thanks for your comment. Inn names sometimes stayed the same for hundreds of years, sometimes changed. Or there could be a slight change: a while back I did a post about one in Market Harborough, which was known as The Swan in the 16th century and is now the Three Swans.