The Old Dutch House, Bristol

The Old Dutch House, Bristol.

Google Street VIew

The Dutch House was a large timber-framed building situated at Nos 1 and 2, High Street Bristol, England. It was a well-known local landmark until its destruction in 1940. The Dutch House (often given the prefix ‘Old’) was built or rebuilt as a private residence in 1676, and dominated the medieval crossroads of High St, Wine Street, Broad Street and Corn Street in the heart of ancient Bristol. Sitting on top of medieval vaulted stone cellars, which also ran out under Wine Street, the more prominent part of the structure was No. 1 High St. This was of rectangular plan, two bays by one, and originally five stories tall; an attic storey was added later. This building had facades on both Wine St and High St. The Wine St façade was two bays wide and consisted of a square bay window to the full height of the original building (except the ground floor), with a flat façade to its right. The High St façade consisted of a bay window, narrower than that on the Wine St façade and with splayed sides, but similar in all other respects. Both facades were ornately carved.

The adjoining house at No.2 High St was incorporated into the premises at some point before 1860. This four-storey gabled house was considerably less ornate than No.1 and may have hinted at the design of No.1 before 1676. It consisted of full-width square bays to the first and second storeys, and a smaller square bay offset to the left on the third storey. The third storey bay was rebuilt at some point between 1847 and 1866 to make it symmetrical, and the façade of this building was changed by exposing and embellishing its frame to unify it with the rest of the building. In 1810 the Dutch House became the Castle Bank, and subsequently had a succession of retail and office uses. By 1866, under the auspices of hatter Mr T.W.Tilly, it had gained fake battlements with cannon, a weather vane, a flagpole and a Grenadier Guardsman sign (now in the care of the City Museum).[2] It seems likely that Mr Tilly was also responsible for altering the façade of No.2. A watercolour drawing of The Dutch House by Bristol-born artist Blanche Baker (painter) was exhibited at Bristol in 1885. The battlements, incongruous on a timber-framed building, had been removed by 1917. . . . On Sunday, 24 November 1940 the Dutch House was almost completely consumed by the fire from incendiary bombs which fell in the 5-hour air raid of over 135 German bombers, part of the Bristol Blitz which destroyed much of Bristol’s pre-war shopping area.

View of Dutch House after bombing

This our third walk shall be down High street towards the south. The singular building upon our left, known as the Old Dutch. House, is one of two structures that, having been framed in Holland, were taken down, shipped, and re-erected in Bristol. The site of these premises (supposed to be that of a church) and the house upon it belonged to Alderman Whitson, the founder of the Red Maids’ school. The existing structure is the most ancient banking building in Bristol, John Vaughan, a goldsmith and banker, having lived there in 1718. This John Vaughan swore both in private and before the magistrates that his family were so terrified at the prospect of the old High Cross falling upon these premises in stormy weather, that he ultimately prevailed upon the Corporation to have it removed. For many years the premises were known as “The Castle Bank,” and were afterwards occupied for a considerable period by Stuckey’s Banking Company
“How to See Bristol: A Complete, Up-to-date, and Profusely Illustrated Guide to Bristol, Clifton and neighbourhood”, James Williams Arrowsmith, 1906

There is a danger of this interesting and well-known house being destroyed, for the purposes of street widening, which, the Committee considers, could be effected without its removal. The following resolution was forwarded to the Town Council:
“The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings having long watched with interest and admiration the Old Dutch House at Bristol, and understanding that its fate is shortly to be decided, begs respectfully to urge the Corporation to let no consideration stand in the way of its preservation.”
The question of the preservation of the house was referred to a Committee of the Town Council for consideration, and a report upon the whole matter is shortly expected.
“The Society for the Protection Of Ancient Buildings. The General Meeting of the Society; Twenty-Ninth Annual Report Of The Committee”, June 1906, p.10

In the last report it was stated that there was a danger of this interesting and well-known. house being destroyed for the purposes of street widening, and that the Society had petitioned the Town Council in favour of its preservation. _ It is with much satisfaction that the Committee is able to report that the Town Council have decided to preserve the house. The ground floor will be set back to a new line of street, and the upper floors, which will not be interfered with, will be allowed to project over the pavement and be carried on columns. The Committee considers this to be a practical way of dealing with the building, for not only will the street widening be possible, and modern requirements thus met, but no old work will be destroyed, for the ground floor is at present filled with a modern shop front.
“The Society for the Protection Of Ancient Buildings. Thirtieth Annual Report Of The Committee”, June 1907, p. 15

“Corbels in the Cellar of ‘Dutch House,’ Bristol, 1908”, “Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society”, 1908

It was thought advisable by those determined to save the property to issue a strong appeal to the members, and a letter, as follows, bearing autograph signatures was posted to every councillor the night prior to the meeting : —

“We feel bound to draw your attention to the importance of the vote at to-morrow’s Meeting of the City Council, when the absolute fate of this interesting property is to be decided. With deference, we should like again to point out that the Old House is a typical specimen of the Ancient domestic architecture of Bristol, and by virtue of its prominent position– standing as it does in the very heart of the City, at the junction of the four cross streets–it possesses a distinctive value to the community, which it is impossible to over estimate ; far too many examples have already been needlessly swept away. This Structure forms an historic link with an in- teresting and dignified past such as is possessed by few cities, and which will be an even more valuable asset in generations to come.

We make a personal appeal to you, to assist by your vote, to retain this building, which we would point out can be preserved without conflicting with the interests of sanitation or public improvement, and without interfering with the proposed street widening. Besides, by the scheme placed before the Council, preservation in this case would be a considerable financial gain! The Old Dutch House when once gone, will be gone for ever! It is hoped that nothing will prevent your remaining until the end of the Meeting in order to support this, movement.
. . .
The final vote was taken on March 10th, in one of the fullest Council meetings on record, and the old house was then saved by one vote! This is not the only instance of the fabric being in danger, for it was apparently doomed about fifty years ago, 1 when Stuckey’s Bank removed from that corner of High Street to its present site. The work of reparation was put in hand immediately, and this has been continued as rapidly as possible.

As to the building itself, the exterior is well known to everyone, but few have any idea of its interesting cellars. The roof of the larger one still retains traces of the groining, and two of the quadrangular corbels from which it springs– which can be seen at the east and west angles on the south side– and one of the centre bosses of the roof, carved in leaf design, which was found built into one of the walls, have been carefully preserved.
It was this compartment which apparently led the Rev. John Evans, 2 author of one of the minor histories of Bristol, into the conjecture that a church, which he called St. Andrew’s, once stood on this spot — a myth long since dispelled.
. . .
The views of the corbels and moulded ribs are from photographs kindly taken by our member, Mr. Moline, in May last, just after the flooring of the shop had been removed, when light first poured into the cellar.
“Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society”, 1908, p.293

Old Curiosity Shop, London

The Old Curiosity Shop
Publlisher: Stengel & Co

Google Street View.

Dating from the 16th century, its sloping roof, overhanging second floor, and uneven Tudor gabling mark it as one of London’s oldest shops. Dwarfed and out of place amidst one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the little creaking shop, constructed from salvaged ship wood, survived not only the Great Fire of London in 1666, but the devastation of the Blitz. Living in neighboring Bloomsbury, Charles Dickens visited the quaint shop on a number of occasions. Although the name was added after the novel was released, it is thought to have become the inspiration for his 1841 novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. The Old Curiosity Shop of Dickens’s imagination was the home of a virtuous teenage orphan, Nell Trent, and her grandfather. The tragic tale took place in “one of those receptacles for old and curious things which seem to crouch in odd corners of this town and to hide their musty treasures from the public eye in jealousy and distrust.”
Atlas Obscura

The idea that Dickens was inspired by this very shop in Holborn is untrue – although he lived for many years in the area and knew of the building. In The Old Curiosity Shop, the author himself writes “the old house had been long ago pulled down, and a fine broad road was in its place”. The actual shop which inspired Dickens’ tale is widely believed to be either 10 Orange Street (behind the National Gallery) or 24 Fetter Lane (off Fleet Street).Nearly 30 years after book was published, the shop’s proprietor decided to cash in on Dickens’ popularity. A bookbinder and bookseller named Tesseyman (d.1877) renamed it The Old Curiosity Shop, proudly declaring it was the very one ‘immortalised by Charles Dickens’. It’s been claimed Tesseyman was given the idea by Dickens’ illustrator Clayton Kyd Clarke (1857-1937) following the author’s death in 1870. Tesseyman’s brother confirmed to the Pall Mall Gazette in 1884 that the Curiosity Shop sign had been painted on the façade “for purely business purposes, as likely to attract custom to his shop, he being a dealer in books, paintings, old china, and so on”.
Memoirs of a Metro Girl

Indeed, it is so old that it is now a listed building and is widely considered to be London’s oldest shop, despite there being no evidence of its actually having been a shop prior to the Victorian era. And one thing that becomes more than apparent when studying the building’s history is that it is a true miracle that the building has survived the march of time and progress, given that, at various times in its long existence, there have been numerous occasions when its imminent demise has been announced and it has come within a hair’s breadth of being demolished. . . . The general consensus is that the buildings now known as “The Old Curiosity Shop” were built in the 1500s as two tiny dwellings. The land on which they stood was later gifted to Charles II’s mistress, Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth (1649 – 1734), for whom Portsmouth Street is named, and the two tiny dwellings were knocked into one larger dwelling and turned into a dairy.
London Walking Tours

Chester Rows, Chester, Cheshire

The Cross, Chester
Publisher: Hugo Lang & Co

Google Street View.

Chester Rows are a set of structures in each of the four main streets of Chester, in the United Kingdom, consisting of a series of covered walkways on the first floor behind which are entrances to shops and other premises. At street level is another set of shops and other premises, many of which are entered by going down a few steps. Dating from the medieval era, the Rows may have been built on top of rubble remaining from the ruins of Roman buildings, but their origin is still subject to speculation.
. . .
There are shops on the street level with wide steps leading to the first floor where there on more shops on the Rows. Above this are 2+ storeys in black-and-white architecture. At street level the shops and other premises are similar to those found in other towns and cities, although many of the premises are entered by going down a few steps. On the first floor level are more shops and other premises, set back from the street, in front of which is a continuous walkway. The storey above this overlaps the walkway, which makes it a covered walkway, and this constitutes what is known as the “Row”. On the street side of the walkways are railings and an area which was used as shelves or stalls for the display of goods. The floors above the level of the Rows are used for commercial or domestic purposes, or for storage.


The layout of the Rows goes back to the 13th century. There were shops or warehouses at street level, with a long gallery above, reached by steps from the street level. Living quarters are on the gallery level. In the Middle Ages, this would have been a hall, open to the roof and heated by a central hearth. The private rooms, or solar, were above the gallery. In the Tudor and Jacobean period the upper floors were built out over the gallery, supported on long poles down to the street level. Shops at ground level used the space between the posts to display their goods to passers-by.
Britain Express

To trace the original cause of these rows, with any degree of certainty, is no easy task, concerning which a variety of conjectures have been formed. Some have attributed their origin to the period when Chester was liable to the frequent assaults of the Welsh, which induced the inhabitants to build their houses in this form, so that when the enemy should at any time have forced an entrance, they might avoid the danger of the horsemen, and annoy their assailants as they passed through the streets. This opinion seems to be adopted by Webb, and followed by most other writers on the subject. He says, “And because their conflicts with enemies continued long time, it was needful for them to leave a space before the doors of those their upper buildings, upon which they might stand in safety from the violence of their enemies’ horses, and withall defend their houses from spoyl, and stand with advantage to encounter their enemies, when they made incursions”. I am aware that this has long been, and still is the popular sentiment; but I think there is very good reason to question its correctness.
Chester: a Virtual Stroll Around the Walls

Moot Hall, Adeburgh, Suffolk

Moot Hall, Aldeburgh
Publisher: Shurey’s Publications (1903-1927)
On back: This beautiful Series of Fine Art Post Cards is supplied free exclusively by Shurey’s Publications, comprising “Smart Novels,” “Yes or No.” and “Dainty Novels.” The finest 1d. Magazine is “Weekly Tale-Teller.”

Google Street View.

The Aldeburgh Moot Hall is a Grade I listed timber-framed building, used for council meetings for over 400 years. The Town Clerk’s office remains there and it houses the local museum. It was built in about 1520 and altered in 1654. The brick and stone infilling of the ground floor is later. The hall was restored and the external staircase and gable ends were rebuilt in 1854–1855 under the direction of R. M. Phipson, chief architect of the Diocese of Norwich, in which Aldeburgh then stood.

The Moot Hall in Aldeburgh is believed to be one of the best preserved Tudor public buildings in Britain. . . . There is no exact date for the construction of this building, but best-guess estimates put it at 1550. Moot Hall sits on the seafront in Aldeburgh, with a huge pebble beach behind it stretching out to a cold, grey sea. It is quite remarkable to look at, with its timber frame, red bricks and tiled roof looking somewhat incongruous next to the colourful seaside villas and wooden shacks, lobster pots and fish stalls that fill the area. Now famous as a music and arts holiday destination, Moot Hall harks back to a time when Aldeburgh was a prosperous Tudor town of traders and ship builders.
Archaeology Travel

The term ‘Moot Hall’ was used only from the nineteenth century as part of the Victorian mock-Tudor restoration. The building was always referred to in earlier documents as the ‘Town Hall’. The word ‘Moot’ derives from the Saxon word for ‘a meeting’. . . .In the 16th century an open-sided polygonal market cross stood across to the North of the Moot Hall, and there was also a large market hall nearby. Fresh food and other everyday commodities would have been sold from these stalls by peripatetic traders: vegetables and fruit, bread, meat and fish. Although no one knows exactly what was sold from the Town Hall shops, records number several shoemakers and tailors working in the town, together with barbers, coopers, grocers, beer-brewers a shipwright and a ‘hockemaker’ (the maker of those all-important hooks for suspending vessels over the fire). The original layout of the ground floor included dividing walls between six shops – each shop would have been self-contained and entered by its own door. Large arched windows which contained no glass but were closed by inside shutters at night provided necessary light.
Suffolk Secrets