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7/8 Stone Houses

A Grade II* Listed Building in Stanhope, County Durham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.7484 / 54°44'54"N

Longitude: -2.0055 / 2°0'19"W

OS Eastings: 399744

OS Northings: 539274

OS Grid: NY997392

Mapcode National: GBR GFFJ.ML

Mapcode Global: WHB3D.5X85

Entry Name: 7/8 Stone Houses

Listing Date: 31 January 1967

Last Amended: 24 January 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1231097

English Heritage Legacy ID: 404928

Location: Stanhope, County Durham, DL13

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Built-Up Area: Stanhope

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Stanhope and Rookhope

Church of England Diocese: Durham

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Summary


Rectory, 1533, remodelled in the C17 and in the later C20.

Description

Rectory, 1533, remodelled in the C17. and in the later C20

MATERIALS: thinly rendered rubble sandstone and millstone grit with large irregular quoins and ashlar dressings; graduated stone-flagged roof with stone gable copings. The western extension is of roughly coursed squared sandstone devoid of quoins or dressings.

PLAN: rectangular with a narrower west extension and a rear outshut; the building is situated opposite St Thomas’s Church, which lies immediately to the south, and is separated from it by a lane. The wall flanking the north side of this lane contains a square-headed entrance with heavy dressings and a broad chamfer (listed separately at Grade II) that lines up with the main south entrance to the building; this clearly provided an early means of access from the church to the house.

EXTERIOR: the main (south) elevation has four bays and three storeys with an ashlar-corniced left end chimney. The main entrance at the right end has a boarded door set in a Tudor-arched surround with wide, broach-stopped chamfers and irregular-block jambs. There are three ground floor windows; the most easterly has wide chamfered surrounds and the single light retains sockets for a grille of bars. The other two are 3-light mullioned windows with narrower jambs. There are four first floor windows with chamfered surrounds of varying shape and proportions; they appear to be in their original positions, but their sills have been lowered. There are two small windows at eaves level with broad chamfers and iron grilles. The western extension has a C20 door and a late C19 sash window under a flat stone lintel. The rear (north) elevation has scattered, inserted fenestration at the east end and a two-storey, single bay catslide extension at the west end. Viewed from within the latter, the rear wall of the original building appears to retain traces of original lime render. The west gable of the original building has chamfered coping, and the later extension has a substantial external chimney stack and battered lower parts, a result of later C19 underpinning; there is a single window to the ground floor. The rear outshut has a doorway through the west wall reached by a short flight of stone steps. The east gable has chamfered coping and a roll-moulded finial.

INTERIOR: most of the present layout of the house is C20 in date, with the exception of the westernmost ground floor room; this is considered to date to the mid-C17. All walls have small-squared panelling, parts of an original cornice and some panels with arcading decoration. There is at least one example of an H-hinge common in the mid-C17. The rear face of the panelling forming the east side, is now obscured by an inserted wall, but photographic evidence shows that each individual panel has a large centrally placed, painted geometric motif. These are depicted in a light colour outlined in black; the simple design comprises interlocking squares and triangles around a central lozenge in an elaboration of a fretée cross, infilled with possible heraldic motifs. There are also examples of painted Tudor roses and foliage. This paneling is considered, by analogy with similar dated survivals elsewhere in the region, to be of late C16 date. Two original central ceiling beams span the width of the room, one with a chamfer stop at its south end.
The panelling to the chimneybreast incorporates arcading and fluted pilasters, some of the latter with usual recessed fluting but the smaller ones gave raised fluting with distinctive terminals consistent with a mid-C17 date. The smaller pilasters formed part of an original blind arcading of paired semi-circular arches, again seen in houses dated to the mid-C17. The timberwork below the mantelpiece is a modern representation containing a C19 cast-iron range.

On the first floor, the westernmost room retains the original stone fireplace; this has a chamfered lintel set forward on shaped corbels. The lower part of the opening has been infilled with modern stonework. This room also retains early oak floor boards of differing widths and original ceiling beams are visible.

The roof is of four bays formed by three collar-beam trusses; there are two levels of collars (secured by pairs of pegs driven obliquely to each other), carrying a diagonally-set ridge and two levels of purlins. Many of the timber are clearly re-used, wall-plates now purlins, and rafters with pegged slots and mortices that must relate to braces or struts in a previous building. The eastern part of the attic has been converted to domestic accommodation and two of the roof trusses are only partially visible. The west end remains unconverted and the upper part of the original chimney breast is visible against the west wall; this has a single apotropaic mark, or evil-averting mark, otherwise known as a witch mark or ritual mark. This example is in the form of a circle with a Star of David motif within; such marks were considered to protect a building from evil spirits, witches or their animal familiars. The floor frame is partially visible and has incised carpenter’s marks.

History

This building probably dates from 1533; elements of the roof structure, joists of the second floor and a first floor ceiling beam have been dated by dendrochronology to a single felling episode in this year. Although many of these members show evidence of re-use, it is considered that they were felled to construct the original roof, which it is thought was dismantled and reset at a slightly shallower pitch in the C18, thereby re-using the original timbers in a different configuration. The original building appears to conform to a defensible building with thick walls, a heated first floor living space and a few small, barred windows to the ground floor. The building is documented as the rectory for the adjacent St Thomas’s Church from 1646 until the end of the C17, and considered to have been constructed as a rectory and a strong store for tithes and other valuables. The building lies directly opposite St Thomas's Church and by at least the C17 had direct access to it.

During the C17, the interior of the house was remodelled and the ground floor converted to domestic accommodation; windows were inserted at this level and one of the rooms, probably the parlour, received inserted panelling and a fireplace; much of the panelling is considered late C16 in date, and to have come from elsewhere, but it is not impossible that it was brought down from the original first floor domestic space. The fireplace/chimney breast is considered by analogy with dated, surviving panelling elsewhere in the north-east to be mid-C17 in date. In 1646, Rector Isaac Basire, Archdeacon of Durham and Rector of several parishes for Bishop Cosin, is recorded as being resident at the building. When a new rectory was built in Stanhope at the end of the C17, Stone Houses is thought to have been divided into two separate dwellings, and was extended to the west, probably to accommodate a stable and received a rear outshut. It probably received the addition of the second (eastern) chimney at this time and a cross passage created behind it; the original roof structure is also considered to have been reset at a slightly reduced pitch at this time.

In the C19 the ground level was reduced to the rear, and the building was extensively underpinned. The interior of the house underwent significant remodelling in c. 1970 that saw the removal of original internal features including the hearth passage, inglenook, chimneystack and a stone staircase to the upper floor. The two dwellings thought to have been created from the original building in c.1700 were returned to a single dwelling at the end of the C20.

Reasons for Listing

This dwelling dated to 1533 is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Date: securely dated by dendrochronology to 1533, and dwellings of this date are not common in north-east England;
* Interior survival: it retains original early C16 features of significant interest including an oak roof structure and an apotropaic mark;
* Panelling: the interior retains a suite of inserted C16 and C17 panelling, the former with rare geometric motifs and floral friezes painted on the rear faces, and the latter with unusual carved motifs;
* Historic interest: an interesting intermediary between the fully medieval upper-floor houses known from the mid- C15 and the more vernacular bastles and upper-floor houses of the Pennine dales which emerged c 1600.

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