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Keepers Cottage, Mill Hill, Capel St Mary

A Grade II Listed Building in Capel St. Mary, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.0022 / 52°0'8"N

Longitude: 1.0299 / 1°1'47"E

OS Eastings: 608073

OS Northings: 238090

OS Grid: TM080380

Mapcode National: GBR TN9.H5R

Mapcode Global: VHKFG.SXTY

Plus Code: 9F43222H+VX

Entry Name: Keepers Cottage, Mill Hill, Capel St Mary

Listing Date: 26 January 2021

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1473644

Location: Capel St. Mary, Babergh, Suffolk, IP9

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Capel St. Mary

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk


A lobby-entry vernacular cottage originating in around 1700, extended to the north and west before 1886.


A lobby-entry vernacular cottage originating in around 1700, extended to the north and west before 1886.


The house is constructed of red brick laid in monk bond, with some burnt headers, and a timber frame for the upper parts of the walling and roof structure. The hipped roof is covered in thatch. Parts of the extensions are clad in pebble-dash render, or weatherboard.


The building’s original two-cell plan form with lobby entry remains legible.


The principal elevation faces east. The hipped thatch roof extends to a cat-slide over the north extension at the right hand side. Within the original (brick) phase of the building, the main entrance is placed roughly centrally at ground floor, and corresponds with the brick chimney stack at the ridgeline. The door is four-panelled and C19 in date, beneath a segmental brick lintel that matches the timber-framed window openings to each side. At first floor there is a thatched dormer off centre, to the right hand side.

The south elevation displays the same brickwork at ground and first floor over the original phase of the cottage, with a three-light timber framed window at first floor, each light having four square panes. The western ground floor extension on the left hand side has rendered wall coverings and there is a single window in the ground floor.

At the west elevation the roof extends down to the wall plate of the ground floor. There is a plank and batten door but no windows in the principal part of this elevation. Set back, in the north extension to the left, is a window on the west side in the weatherboarded return wall.

On the north side of the cottage most of the walling is clad in weatherboard. The roof staggers in stages to cover the north extension. There is a single window in the brick return wall of the west extension.


The interior retains its original plan form, with a lobby entry leading into single rooms either side of the central chimney stack. Extensions to the north and west have elaborated the plan at ground floor. Features of interest include items of historic joinery, such as plank and batten doors, a door made from earlier C17 panelling into the southern ground floor room, cupboard doors with L-hinges, and the staircase to the first floor. In the northern ground floor room, and in the bathroom there is some horizontal matchboard dado panelling. There are areas of exposed timber framing in the first floor, and many of the floor surfaces are historic, including early-C19 brick flooring on the south side of the ground floor.

The original brick chimney stack survives, though the fireplaces have been altered. The front of the southern fireplace at ground floor has been reconstructed, and the interior of the northern fireplace has been partially in-filled to create a smaller opening, probably to accommodate a (lost) coal grate.


Keepers Cottage was first recorded as a ‘cottage and garden' on the 1837 Tithe Map for the parish of Capel St Mary, at which time it was the home of William Bryant and three others. The occupants may have had an association with Bryant’s Fen Drift, located next to the north-east corner of the cottage.

The building’s form and materials suggest a late-C17 date. Its lobby entry plan form is characteristic of rural vernacular houses of the C17. Its construction combines timber framing with brick work, indicating a likely date in the later C17. The presence of segmental arches over the door and windows of the principal (east) elevation, and the survival in the interior of L-shaped hinges to cupboard doors supports a date of construction in the late C17 or early C18.

When originally constructed the building had a two-cell plan form, which remains easily legible in the configuration of rooms on both floors. By 1886 it had been extended to the west and north at the ground floor, with the hipped thatch roof running into long cat-slides over those projecting elements. At that time several outbuildings were also extant across a yard on the west side of the house. These were demolished in the C20.
In the later C20 the north extension was converted to provide a bathroom. The fireplaces in the principal ground floor rooms have been altered. On the north side of the central stack the original bressumer remains embedded in the wall, and a plain timber fire surround has been inserted within the large former opening. On the south side, the original brick fireback remains, while a larger opening with reconstructed jambs and a new bressumer has been put in place. The original brick chimney stack rises up through the upper storey to the centre of the ridgeline.

Throughout the major phases of its history, the building appears to have made use of modest materials. Most of the brickwork has been laid in monk bond, a more economical variation of Flemish bond. There are very few windows, and the steep thatch roof made use of cheaply available local materials.

Keepers Cottage originated as a modest vernacular dwelling house for a household of humble means. It appears to have continued in that pattern of ownership into the C20. Its name suggests it may have provided accommodation for a game keeper.

Reasons for Listing

Keepers Cottage in Capel St Mary, a lobby-entry vernacular cottage originating in around 1700, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for its display of local distinctiveness, using local building materials such as brick, timber framing, and thatch;
* for the unusual combination of timber framing and brick walling that make up its structure;
* for the survival of its lobby-entry plan form.

Historic interest:

* for its social historical value as a surviving example of marginal housing in a rural context;
* as a modest vernacular cottage of around 1700 surviving without major alteration since the C19.

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