February 28, 2018|Reports

“Outshuts and Catslides (or where to keep the fridge freezer)” by Liz Lewis

At our February meeting, 71 members and guest were treated to an in-depth review of medieval and historic houses in the area by Liz Lewis, a long-time local resident and previous Curator of Winchester City Museum.  Her research started about 50 years ago when she first came to Wickham.  One objective of this research was to establish themes or patterns in the construction of ancient houses in the district.

Liz referred first to the medieval manor house next to the church whose remains were exposed by excavations conducted by Winchester Archaeology. The first manor house had an aisled masonry hall, modified in the 14th century to add side-wings and then replaced completely in the 17th century by the Uvedale (Lords of the Manor) family.

Away from the Manor House, a medieval ‘new town’ was created with houses laid out in burgage plots round the Square, and several of these remain.The Square Cow (formerly the Wine Bar) is an unusual continuously jettied building despite having had an open central hall. Liz also showed slides of its magnificent early wall and ceiling paintings. Alexandra House is a type called ‘Wealden’, copying larger farmhouses in the Weald of Sussex and Kent.  This type had a central open hall plus two floored side bays each jettied (with the upper floor projecting over the street).  The Barracks, in Bridge Street, is another example and has been dated by dendrochronology to 1494-5.

Outside Wickham there are several examples of ‘cruck’ construction, where pairs of curved semi-vertical beams form a truss dividing the bays.  One such property from Boarhunt has been re-erected at the Weald and Downland Museum. Hampshire is the eastern border of this type of construction.

Great Funtley Farmhouse was built as a fully-floored building with four bays, dated 1510-38.  It has an appendage, called an ‘outshut’, part of the original plan, with a spectacular ‘catslide’ roof, a feature found in several houses in the village.

Queens Lodge, in Bridge Street, dated 1648, has a brick façade with an ornate street entrance leading inside to a small lobby, characteristic of the period.  The external appearance is called ‘artisan mannerism’. It had an original outshut housing tools and equipment.

Liz described the types of uses these outshuts were put to, using original inventories (and yes, she did keep her fridge freezer in hers!). Her work had shown that outshuts were often part of the original construction, whereas the previous orthodoxy had been that they were always later extensions. There was a lively discussion as to why Hampshire had these ‘built in’ outbuildings at this time – Liz suggested that easier control of access might have been a reason.

We came away with an in-depth appreciation of the features of historic houses in our vicinity, backed by professional research.

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