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30, High Street

A Grade II Listed Building in Lowestoft, Suffolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4839 / 52°29'1"N

Longitude: 1.7567 / 1°45'24"E

OS Eastings: 655164

OS Northings: 293965

OS Grid: TM551939

Mapcode National: GBR YTB.6YY

Mapcode Global: VHN3X.DTJQ

Plus Code: 9F43FQM4+HM

Entry Name: 30, High Street

Listing Date: 13 December 1949

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1025263

English Heritage Legacy ID: 391296

Location: Lowestoft, East Suffolk, Suffolk, NR32

County: Suffolk

Electoral Ward/Division: Harbour

Built-Up Area: Lowestoft

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Lowestoft Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

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Summary


C16 merchant’s house, remodelled and re-fronted in the mid-C19.

Description

C16 merchant’s house, remodelled and re-fronted in the mid-C19.

MATERIALS: red brick laid predominantly in Flemish bond with brick dressings. The front roof slope is clad in slate and the rear slope in black-glazed pantiles.

PLAN: the house is located in a terrace of buildings on the east side of the High Street and has a rectangular plan.

EXTERIOR: the house has two storeys and an attic with an irregular façade. The ground floor is dominated by a large bordered sash window with margin lights and a rebuilt gauged brick arch, a late C20 replacement of an earlier shopfront. To the left is a bootscraper in the form of an arch with a man’s head at the top. The front door to the right is set within a wooden architrave of simple classical design with a panelled soffit and jambs. The door has six fielded panels under a plain overlight. (The door to the left provides access to 29 High Street.) The first floor is lit by two sash windows with bordered glazing bars, set flush in the wall. The attic is lit by a gabled dormer with a two-over-two pane sash window and glazed sides. The rear elevation is of three storeys owing to the slope in the ground. It has a full-height C19 canted bay window with plate-glass sashes; the middle sashes have margin glazing.

INTERIOR: the ground floor has a partitioned passage providing a hallway from the front door but in the mid-C16 this was one room. It has roll-moulded cruciform bridging beams decorated on the under surface with a relief-carved stylised vine trail. The joists are roll-moulded with splayed stops. Against the east wall is a fireplace which has a timber chimneypiece of c1580 with a roll-moulded bressumer, a strapwork frieze and an upper cornice with scrolled leaf-trail and an urn. The roll-moulded jambs are replacements. The back of the fireplace (but not the cheeks) is lined with C17 Delft tiles of a variety of designs including a windmill, ships, wild boar, houses and round urns containing flowers. The staircase in the hall, of around 1700 date, has an open string, two twisted balusters per tread supporting a moulded handrail, and three heavy turned newel posts with ball finials. The original stair survives in the lower straight flight only. The understairs cupboard has an C18 two-panelled door with a spring latch. In the east ground-floor room the cornice is enriched with egg-and-dart, and there is an early C18 eared fireplace with an egg-and-dart surround and stylised foliate corner blocks. The wooden fireplace is unpainted and contains a modern wood-burning stove.
The other features of note in the house include several fireplaces on the upper floors. One of these is located on the rear corridor of the first floor (above the ground-floor fireplace) which would probably have originally heated a bedroom. It appears to have become stranded in the corridor when this was created at the top of the staircase around 1700. The wooden, roll-moulded fireplace has a square-headed opening and a blocked grate surrounded by Delft tiles of a simple design. These depict animals, such as a camel, dog, deer and unicorn, and figures engaged in a variety of activities including fishing, playing musical instruments and carrying a sack. One of the bedrooms retains a wooden fireplace with ogee brackets supporting a mantelshelf, and a cast-iron grate with a delicate swag design in relief. This is surrounded by Delft tiles of mostly the same design – a vase of flowers – except for two Chinese figures in the top corners. The tiles have been reused to decorate the fireplace which is not of C17 date.

In the kitchen to the rear (east) of the house, a large chimney breast indicates the former position of a wide hearth. This was later blocked up and an oven called the Patent Triplex Grate installed in the 1920s or 1930s. Manufactured by the Triplex Foundry Ltd of Tipton, Staffordshire (founded in 1918), the Triplex Grate was a triple function grate which heated the room, heated water and cooked food. Sometimes decorated with tiles, the doors on this example bear Delft or Delft-style tiles depicting ladies and gentlemen in landscape scenes. To the left of the oven is a cast iron bread oven. These began to be produced by iron foundries in the C18. It has an unusually decorative door with a relief moulding of a cherub or cupid surrounded by a circular band of intertwining foliage and ribbons in a rococo style. It is possible that it was designed as an oven door but is more likely to be a reused fireback. The door to the small grate underneath has the maker’s stamp ‘Carron’, an ironworks company established in 1759 that went on to become one of the leading ironworks companies in Europe.

History

The name Lowestoft is Scandinavian in origin and may be translated as Hloover’s toft – the homestead of Hloover. The town relocated to the cliff-top from an earlier site, about a mile to the south-west, during the period 1300-1350, partly because of increasing maritime activity (especially herring-fishing) and the need it created to be closer to the sea, and partly because of the difficulty of accommodating an expanding population in-situ without building houses on valuable agricultural land. The area chosen for the new site was low-grade coastal heath, used mainly for the rough-grazing of livestock which became a more useful asset to the manorial lord as building-land. The main street is of sinuous alignment, following the natural curves of the cliff. The better-off members of the community lived along the High Street whilst the less affluent largely resided in a gridiron side-street area to the west. Lowestoft was thus a planned late medieval town.

The High Street was lined with burgage plots containing prosperous merchants’ houses for much of the medieval and early modern period, and the cliff-face was made usable by terracing. The cliff-top itself provided an area behind the houses for the storage of household goods and materials; and the first step down was multi-purpose, sometimes planted with fruit trees and used as an amenity area, but also functioning as a place for putting all kinds of household waste. The second and third stages down were mainly taken up with the buildings that serviced fishing and other maritime enterprise: curing-houses, net-stores, stables and the like. Access from the cliff-top to the sea was provided by footways known as scores (three of them widened for use by carts) – a word deriving from the Old Norse ‘skora’, meaning ‘to cut’ or ‘to incise’. These had originally started life as surface-water gullies down the soft face of the cliff – a natural process that lent itself to use as tracks.

The chief trade of Lowestoft and the source of its prosperity remained herring fishing until the C19. Then in 1827 the harbour was created, and in 1832 the navigation continued through to Oulton Broad, giving access to the River Waveney and Norwich. Samuel Morton Peto was brought in to construct the outer harbour, and he ensured the arrival of the railway in 1847 as well as developing the land south of the harbour as a seaside resort. The town was bombarded by the Germans in 1916 and suffered considerable damage from 178 enemy raids in the Second World War. Post-war reconstruction involved new roads being cut through the northern part of the town. In the later years of the C20 the fishing industry has almost completely declined.

30 High Street was built in the C16, originally forming a single dwelling with the adjoining 29 High Street (Grade II listed) to the north. What is now the entrance hall and main reception room at the front of no. 30 was originally one room, probably a shop. It was the home of Admiral Sir Thomas Allin (1612-1685) who spent the first part of his life there as a merchant and shipowner. On the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, Allin sided with the Royalists, in common with most of the town, and subsequently served with Prince Rupert in the exiled Royalist squadron after the execution of Charles I. In the Second Dutch War, 1665–1667, he fought at the Battle of Lowestoft (1665), and commanded the van at the St James's Day Fight (1666). Allin was twice commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean and later Comptroller of the Navy. He was created a baronet in 1669 and three years later retired to Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, where he died in retirement.

Numerous fireplaces throughout the house are decorated with C17 Delft tiles. The invention of Delft pottery in the mid-1600s was a response to the popularity of Chinese blue and white porcelain, the technique for which would not be mastered in Europe until the beginning of the C18. Potters around the Netherlands had already begun developing the art of tin-glazed earthenware to mimic the glossy white surface of porcelain but in the 1640s Delft potters started to use personal monograms and factory marks, and the tiles became works of art in their own right. These delft tiles proved very popular and were exported throughout Europe. The Dutch potters travelled widely and by 1650 were producing 'delft' in London and other cities in the country. By the end of the C18, the production of ‘delft’ in Delft itself had almost ground to a halt, as similar tiles could be manufactured more cheaply in Britain. Delftware then went out of style over the course of the C19 as the industrial potteries in Staffordshire developed new techniques for making blue and white ceramics that were lighter and more durable than tin glazing.
Around 1700 30 High Street became purely domestic. It was very likely around this time that the partition wall was inserted in the front west room to create an entrance hall and staircase. In the mid-C19, the house was remodelled and re-fronted. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886 shows a long linear range of outbuildings to the rear on the south side. These are still depicted on the third edition map of 1927 although all but one has since been removed. In the early C20, 30 High Street was the home of William Hallam, a solicitor and member of the Borough’s Public Library committee until his death in 1915. He lived there with his wife and family.

Reasons for Listing

30 High Street, a C16 merchant’s house, remodelled and re-fronted in the mid-C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it retains a significant proportion of historic fabric which provides important evidence of the development in building practices and materials, plan form, and styles of joinery and internal decorative features;
* significant elements from each phase of its evolution survive, notably the original moulded and carved beams and ornate C16 fireplace (denoting a residence of some status); the significant collection of C17 Delft tiles that adorn numerous fireplaces; and the elegant C18 staircase;
* its interest is further enhanced by the survival of the bread oven and the inter-war Patent Triplex Grate, evocative features in the service rooms that are rarely retained.

Group value:

* it contributes to the architectural legacy in the High Street and has group value with a considerable number of listed buildings, particularly numbers 28, 29, 31-32 and 33-34 which have varying origins as houses and shops from the C16 to C19.

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