Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire

A strong support

The House on Crutches is next to the Town Hall in Bishop’s Castle. It’s a 16th-century house with stout oak frame filled in between with wattle and daub and covered by a 19th-century slate roof. The upper floor is a few feet larger than the ground flood and projects beyond it, supported over the pavement beneath with two very solid-looking posts. Many timber-framed houses have a projecting upper floor, its timbered cantilevered out a bit in a feature called a jetty. Among other advantages, the jetty arrangement provides a little more room upstairs. But this house is different: the overhang is enormous and in an altogether different league: no wonder it has been noticed in the building’s name.

Like many an old building, the House on Crutches has seen various uses. Originally presumably a house, it shows signs of commercial use, and is now a museum, so people can learn not only about the town’s history but also marvel at the crooked stairs, fine oak beams, and the rest, within. It surveys the history of Bishop’s Castle – it has been in its time a border settlement with a castle, market town, ‘rotten borough’ with two MPs representing a place with just a few hundred people, and staging post on the route between England and Wales. Now it is supporting the variety of activities (cattle market, two micro breweries, shops, coffee shops) that a town, even a tiny town, needs in order to thrive. The House on Crutches seems to be playing a vital part.


Hels said...

When the house was first built, would it have been designed for a moneyed family? It may not have been huge, but the house looks very substantial.

Joe Treasure said...

I'm wondering if the crutches were added later (as the word implies)? Or would an overhang of that size have required extra support anyway?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Joe: I think they've been there throughout. It's a very big overhang and would need their support.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: My guess would be that it would be someone with a good income - a merchant say, of some standing. As you say, it's very solid, and right in the middle of the town too.