Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ridgeway Court

Ridgeway Court – details from the recording of the historic building
This fine house dates back to around 1600, although it was remodelled in the 19th century and divided in the 20th century. It is constructed of timber on sandstone. In the 19th century it changed its outlook by turning away from the farm, and by assuming a new frontage which was executed in brick to hide the older timber structure, which in the 19th century was regarded as too old-fashioned and unrefined for the tastes of the time.

Ridgeway Court

The following text is abridged from “Memories of Wychbold before the Motorway”, and is reproduced with the permission of Robin Skerratt.

The front of the farmhouse appears to be Georgian, but the oldest part faces the Salwarpe. This is Elizabethan, or maybe earlier, with walls of large sandstone blocks and mullion windows.

Under the cellar floor a most unusual system of drainage was recently discovered. Experts believe this to be possibly Roman.

In the attic great timbers support and divide the roof space into various sections or rooms, some having wattle or boarded walls, with half doors, or no door fitted. These areas were used for storage – everything smelled old. There was a ladder fixed to overhead timbers which gave access to a trap door in the roof enabling us to climb into a valley roof section between two pitched roofs.

At the front of the house there used to be a large lawn….. Flower beds were around the borders and staddle stones at the edge of the lawn near the house. An impressive monkey puzzle tree used to stand taller than the house to the left of the front door.

The other end of the house wall, near the lane, used to be the back of the wood and tool store. Two recent additions can be seen, the oak framed arched windows still fitted with some original glass. These were rescued from Rashwood School at the time of its demolition. (The school stood where the Little Chef on the A38 is now).

The back of the farmhouse can be seen from the lane entrance. Facing the lane are the ends of two pitched roofs. There, between the house and the dairy, was an uncovered walkway which led down steps to the pigsties, vegetable garden and orchard, and a brick built closet with three hole sizes to suit two adults and a child, each having its own wooden lid. The other pitched roof covered the dairy. This had been the original kitchen for the farmhouse. It had a red brick floor and a massive open fireplace and chimney at the far end where you could stand inside and look up to see the sky. There was a large bread oven at the side of the fireplace. Behind the dairy, at the top of the steps, was a large boiler for boiling pig food, and nearby were two holes close to the ground filled with generations of domestic rubbish. I understand these have recently been emptied to reveal quite deep brick lined bowl shaped cavities which are thought to have been old brine pits.

In the yard in front of the dairy was a deep well with a hand pump at the surface. This was in use until 1947 when mains electricity arrived and an automatic electric pump was installed. This also marked the end of lanterns and paraffin lamps which had previously been used in the house and in the farm buildings.

The building alongside the lane to the right of the entrance was a granary with a flight of worn shallow wooden steps leading up to it, and a garage and stable below. About 1910 this end of the floor was raised one – two feet and constructed of wood laths for the laying and drying of hops.

From the entrance to the farmhouse we look left at the building alongside the lane. The first section to the arch used to be entirely of brick. Near to the arch in the roof a timber A frame had its tie beam carved with the builder’s initials T.R. and R.S. dated 1742.

Behind this section of the barn in the yard was a Jinny Ring where Nancy the shire horse plodded round in a circle. She pulled a horizontal wooden beam radially attached to a vertical drive shaft, this transmitted some genuine horse power which was directed below ground into the barn and used to drive a root crop pulper for making animal feed.

Beyond the brick section, the barn continued as a timber framed building clad with thick elm weather boarding. This section included two sets of huge double doors high enough to allow fully laden harvest wagons to enter from the lane. The cottage at the far end was of brick and constructed within the end bay of the barn.

To the right of the rickyard entrance, alongside the lane was a cart shed. This had a tiled pitched roof with a wall at each end and brick column supports at the front and the back, which carts and farm implements could be driven through and parked.

To the left of the rickyard entrance alongside the lane, was a storage shed comprising a curved corrugated iron roof supported on staddle stones. Inside were more implements including an old horse-drawn milk float with a coach lamp bracket at each side.

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