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Half Thatch, 181 Main Road, Great Leighs

A Grade II Listed Building in Great Leighs, Essex

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Latitude: 51.8327 / 51°49'57"N

Longitude: 0.51 / 0°30'36"E

OS Eastings: 573043

OS Northings: 217875

OS Grid: TL730178

Mapcode National: GBR PJF.3RC

Mapcode Global: VHJJP.S6HD

Plus Code: 9F32RGM6+32

Entry Name: Half Thatch, 181 Main Road, Great Leighs

Listing Date: 2 April 2001

Last Amended: 21 March 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1246633

English Heritage Legacy ID: 487070

Location: Great and Little Leighs, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Great and Little Leighs

Built-Up Area: Great Leighs

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Great and Little Leighs and Little Waltham

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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A timber framed cottage dating to the C17. The single storey C19 agricultural or service range to the east, the modern central section, the C20 outbuilding and glazed link, do not form part of this listing.


Cottage, C17; timber framed and rendered, with thatched roof.

EXTERIOR: the cottage is a single cell building, square in plan, of one and half storeys, rendered and painted, with textured panels imitating pargetting; a band to eaves height, between the windows in the east elevation, is decorated with a wheat sheaf. This is the main elevation, and has a dormer window and two windows below, the latter modern insertions. The thatch extends down to the north over the main entrance. The gable end of the C17 cottage has an external brick chimney stack, and the roof forms a catslide to the west over a C20 lean-to glazed addition.

INTERIOR: the interior of the cottage has one room each to ground and first floors. The north, west and east walls of the ground floor have studs resting on a sill beam, with passing braces crossing studs towards either end of each wall. The sill beam appears to be a replacement for the original, a short length of which survives to the south of the west door. The inserted windows to the east wall are framed by later, square cut studs. Apart from these, the irregular, unfinished timbers on these three walls are in contrast to the box framing of the south wall, which is regular, using straight, square cut timbers. This wall also contains an inserted brick fireplace. The ceiling has a single beam supporting joists. A section of wattle and daub has been preserved behind panelling in the west wall.

Access to the first floor is by a modern staircase in a lobby to the north, rising to a landing within the substantially C20 part of the house. In the upper room the wall plate is about 0.40m above floor level; there appear to be additional substantial timbers bolted to each wall plate, presumable for additional strength. Timbers in either gable, both studs and tie beams, are similar to those on the ground floor. The roof is of common rafter construction, the ridge concealed. Purlins and collars appear to be more recent replacements or additions.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The C19 agricultural or service range, the adjoining C20 central section and the outbuilding connected by a glazed link to the house are not of special architectural or historical interest, and are not included in the listing.


Great Leighs is a linear settlement to either side of the route of a Roman Road between Little Waltham and Braintree. Until the late C19 or early C20 development was limited almost exclusively to the north-west of the road, and a number of listed timber framed houses, with dates ascribed to between the C16 and C18, suggest that occupation may have been well established towards the north end of the settlement before the C16 or C17. Half Thatch is one of these, listed in 2001 as a C17 house extended in the C18. Hope Cottage, its neighbour immediately to the north, is dated to about 1600 and is also listed at Grade II (NHLE1171439).

The Historic Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1875 shows three distinct elements to the property, which, over the course of the next 100 years, were altered and combined to form a single dwelling. These consist of an irregularly shaped, roughly rectangular building to the south, with an interlocking T shaped structure attached to the north-west, and a separate long narrow range to the north-east, originally an agricultural or service building. Between 1875 and 1953 the footprint of the T shaped structure underwent several phases of change, and by 1976 had taken on its current (2014) form. The altered plan suggests a substantially new build, now joined to the single storey service range to the north-east, and with a short wing to the west. Also between 1953 and 1976, the curtilage of the property was enlarged and a small outbuilding added to the west, now linked to the house by a glazed passage or conservatory. Tiles found beneath the thatch when it was removed for re-thatching in 2013 suggest that the roof of the south section may at one time have been covered in plain clay tiles.

Reasons for Listing

Half Thatch, 181 Main Road, Great Leighs, a C17 cottage, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest and degree of survival: it is a humble C17 timber framed cottage which retains a significant proportion of its historic fabric, including an almost complete timber frame and roof structure, as well as a surviving fragment of wattle and daub to the ground floor west wall;

* Group value: it has group value with its neighbour to the north, Hope Cottage, a timber framed and thatched cottage listed at Grade II (NHLE 1171439).

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