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Nos. 17 and 18 New Street

A Grade II* Listed Building in Plymouth, City of Plymouth

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Latitude: 50.3669 / 50°22'0"N

Longitude: -4.1349 / 4°8'5"W

OS Eastings: 248261

OS Northings: 54070

OS Grid: SX482540

Mapcode National: GBR RCJ.HC

Mapcode Global: FRA 2872.6YK

Plus Code: 9C2Q9V88+Q2

Entry Name: Nos. 17 and 18 New Street

Listing Date: 25 January 1954

Last Amended: 1 June 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1386272

English Heritage Legacy ID: 473657

Location: St. Peter and the Waterfront, Plymouth, PL1

County: City of Plymouth

Electoral Ward/Division: St Peter and the Waterfront

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Plymouth

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Tagged with: Building

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A pair of former C17 merchants' houses, one of the which was re-fronted in and converted into a fish warehouse in C19; both buildings were converted into flats in the late C20.


A pair of former C17 merchants' houses, one of the which was re-fronted and converted into a fish warehouse in C19; both buildings were converted into flats in the late C20.

MATERIALS: No.17 has a plastered timber-framed front and No.18 is constructed of Plymouth limestone rubble with segmental brick arches over the openings.
PLAN: part of a row, both buildings have a deep plan with a narrow, single-bay, front facing onto New Street. The ground floor has a shop and utilities, with three flats on each of the above floors that extend the width of both buildings.

EXTERIOR: Nos. 17 and 18 are a three-storey-with-attic and four-storey building respectively. No. 17 is jettied. The ground floor has a central, moulded doorway with turned-and-carved stops and a timber-plank door with decorative strap hinges that stands above a stone step. On either side is a four-light, diamond-leaded, timber-mullioned window. Above is a first-floor moulded slate-roof jetty over a dentilled entablature. The first floor contains a central six-light, diamond-leaded, oriel window with splayed sidelights and two flanking lights. The window is supported by three carved timber brackets. Either side is exposed timber framing. The window is overhung by a deep second-floor slate-roof jetty. The second floor has a central six-light window. Above is a steep slate roof with projecting front eaves. The exposed part of the left-hand gable end is faced with hanging slates.

No. 18 has a wide central entrance on the ground floor with a recessed C20 door topped by a timber-clad lintel and relieving brick arch. Above are three further floors with large central openings flanked by small single-light windows. Originally one long single opening existed on the first and second floor; this has been in filled and now each floor has a two-light window and a Juliet balcony. The third floor opening is a two-light window. All of the windows are late-C20. The slate roof is pitched.

The rear of both buildings is abutted by No.16, and only the top floor, including two single-light stair windows, is visible.

INTERIOR: there is a shop on the ground floor of No.17. Within is a large splayed fireplace with an ovolo-moulded lintel and a flagstone floor. The room is subdivided by a C20 glazed partitioned office to the right. The remains of a blocked newel staircase (locally termed a pole staircase) survives in the left corner. No. 18 has a lobby and service rooms and provides access to the flats above. Each floor above consists of a flat that spans across both buildings. There are two timber newel staircases to the rear which would have originally serviced each building. The left one (No. 18) is now the principal staircase; the right (No. 17) stair case has been blocked. The interior of the first-floor oriel window within No.17 has carved timber supports with ogee stops and there is further evidence of fireplace recesses on the upper floors. In the 1970s a C17 fireplace was recorded surviving within No.18, however no evidence of this has been found. The roofs are both timber A-frame constructions.


New Street is within an area of Plymouth known as the Barbican which was the centre of the medieval and post-medieval defences around Sutton Harbour. The harbour was the city’s main commercial centre from the C13. A C14 castle was located overlooking the harbour and this remained the city’s main defensive position until it was demolished when it was superseded in the C17 by the Royal Citadel on the Hoe. New Street was one of a cluster of streets that developed around the harbour which had grown in importance throughout the C16 and C17. It was historically known as Greyfriars Street and was the site of C14 Franciscan friary. New Street was established in the early-C16 by local merchant John Sparke. Sutton Harbour remained the principal commercial port in Plymouth until the 1840s. In the mid-C19, New Street’s fortunes diminished and it became surrounded by some of the city’s worst slums. These were eventually cleared in 1927 and a renewed interest in the area saw repairs made to some of the historic buildings. Plymouth was heavily damaged by the bombing campaigns of the Second World War and the aftermath saw large scale rebuilding of the city centre. In the 1950s attention was drawn to the surviving historic district around the Barbican and plans were mooted to demolish and rebuild many of the streets. Local support to save the surviving historic buildings led to the creation of the Barbican Association in 1957 and a greater consideration was given to the area’s conservation. Since the 1960s a number of buildings on New Street have been restored, some with grants from the Ministry of Works and the Historic Buildings Council. Today (2015) New Street is one of the best preserved streets within the Barbican, with various C16 and C17 merchants’ houses surviving alongside C18 and C19 warehouses.

Nos. 17 and 18 appear to be of C17 origins and at various stages have been under the same ownership. A deed of 1599 recorded that Mr Hugh Sampson purchased the site of No. 17; on 26 March that year he paid his neighbour compensation for building against his wall. The plot originally extended to the south-west with the buildings on New Street being the formal front range, behind which would have been a central courtyard and a main house to the rear (north-east) facing onto The Barbican and the harbour side. At some point the long plot was subdivided and the New Street buildings became separate dwellings. The courtyard and main building were later built over. Nos. 17 and 18 New Street are shown in a c1850 watercolour by Philip Brannon which suggests that before 1841 they were a pair of timber-fronted buildings with matching doors and oriel windows, topped by a triple giblet roof and with slate hung gable ends. After 1841 the roof over No. 17 was rebuilt. In 1866 joists were replaced and the cellar was paved and drained. In 1872 further roof repairs took place. In 1875 the cellar was fitted out as a washhouse and the floor lowered in 1888. It ceased being a residential dwelling in the late C19, after which it was used for storage. No. 18, which was the site of a C17 building, was entirely re-fronted and converted into a fish warehouse in the first half of the C19. In 1882 the east elevation of No.18 was rebuilt and in 1888 the cellar was lowered and a new concrete floor laid out. In 1998 both buildings, by this time back in common ownership, were converted into a shop and flats.

Reasons for Listing

Nos. 17 and 18 New Street are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as a pair of former C17 merchants' houses which retain a significant amount of early fabric, in particular No.17 which posses high quality carved decoration and a remarkable level of external and internal intactness;
* Historic interest: as vestiges for the nearby trading activities of the adjacent Sutton Harbour which played such a vital role in the economic growth of the city;
* Rarity: as important and rare survivals of surviving C17 buildings in the centre of Plymouth, particularly in light of major rebuilding which took place in the city centre as a result of Second World War bomb damage and large scale redevelopment in the post-war era;
* Legibility: the survival of features such as the newel staircases, and one of the two jettied fronts (No. 17) contributes to the legibility of this pair of C17 houses;
* Group Value: as part of an important group of surviving historic buildings on New Street, including a high proportion of C17 and C18 houses such as the Elizabethan House opposite (listed Grade II*).

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