A few of the many interesting bits and pieces which have emerged during our researches for the project:
– During recent renovations at the King’s Head, part of the original stone wall of this Tudor building was revealed, showing the original stone structure, a bricked in-window and what looks like a stone niche, similar to the one in the wall of the almshouses in Church Street, high up near the roof. I wonder if it was to hold a statue or for some other purpose?
– In December 1598, the wealthy widow, Alice Green and her maid servant, Agnes Beard were discovered brutally murdered in her High Street house and her strongboxes broken open and robbed. We don’t know exactly which house it was but it may have been Scaplen’s Court. A man called Robert Hill was hanged for the murder but Alice Green’s son-in-law, the merchant John Beryman who also lived in the High Street, was suspected of involvement. The case dragged on for years as new pieces of evidence came to light.
– Lush Cosmetics at number 29, formerly the Bell and Crown Inn, is one of the many High Street buildings which shows two different faces at the front and the back. The High Street frontage reveals strong traces of the Victorian public house. The rear reveals the building’s 17thcentury stone-built origins.
– The premises which now house Oxfam and the pharmacy next door are probably older than Beech Hurst on the opposite side of the road, being built as cottages in the 18th century. There are few features remaining of the original houses, apart from the twisting stairs to the attic.
– Bowling Green Alley probably takes its name from Bowling Green House which is named on a tax record of the High Street from 1751, but where was it and why was it so called?
– During recent changes at number 69, formerly Bengal Spices Cuisine, an old shop sign for F A Sharp, Ironmongers was briefly revealed.
Some interesting comments from Andrew Hawkes:
The Tudor wall on the west end of the King’s Head. – The photograph of the frost damage to the render on the wall has revealed an upper doorway, it was not a window; there is another probable bricked up doorway in the lower part of the building. I have two photos which show an extension to the Kings Head which covered the front of Scaplen’s Court, which has since been demolished. The stone niche is almost certainly a support to hold the roof beam of the extension.
I have attached two photos to support this one taken about 1905c and the other 1930c.
Jenny: Thanks for this information. The explanation of the niche as a beam slot makes a lot more sense. Obviously the junction between these two buildings has changed a lot over the years as the 17th century map shows that there was an alleyway between them as well as one on the other side of Scaplen’s Court.