Some notes on 11 West Street, Epsom
11 West Street is at the western end of a row of three properties (nos. 7–11) which were built on a single plot of land at different times. They are all fronted in red brick, and have a continuous cornice and roof line, but there are vertical joints between each property. An internal inspection of no. 11 has recently taken place; at no. 9 only the facade remains, the rest being rebuilt in the early 1960s (some of the old tile battens were used to peg out the original Bourne Hall excavations); and one hopes in due course to examine no. 7. Reference to Dr. Lehmann’s book, The Residential Copyholds of Epsom, shows the development of the site in some detail:–
1695 1 messuage
1698 All the messuages
1699 2 messuages
1703 2 messuages and 1 now to be built
This development fits well with observations made on site and the possible sequence of construction will be covered later. Although altered internally, the original plan of no. 11 can clearly be identified and the stairs (which remain intact) are remarkably similar to those formerly at 6–8 West Street (built in the first decade of the eighteenth century and demolished in the seventh of the twentieth century). The stairs are well detailed with moulded hand rails and newel post caps, there are turned balusters and the stairs turn through 180 degrees at each half landing. There were four rooms on each of the main floors with three further rooms in the attic and a cellar in the south west corner. The stairs and hall divide the plan into two on the principal floors and the roof is hipped at the western end. On the facades of nos. 9 and 11 it can be clearly seen where (in four locations) two original windows have been removed and replaced by one window probably owing to the window tax (this has also been noted at 6–8 West Street and 8–10 Chalk Lane).
The roof structure is two and a half bays in length and comprises of butt purlins and butt rafters; it is interesting that the half bay continues onto the site of no.9, and it is a pity that this property was not recorded in detail prior to the demolition of all but its front wall. We are now left to speculate why the roof of no.11 continued eastwards. Several possibilities come to mind; were nos. 9 and 11 one property and divided into two between 1695 and 1698, or was the existing building re-roofed when the second property was constructed? The latter seems unlikely as there is a break in the cornice at the junction between the two buildings, and if sub-division took place, why have a joint in the brickwork? The existing roof consists of a central valley with the roofs on each side of it having shorter inner slopes than outer slopes, to give adequate headroom to the attics. A similar roof (also with hipped ends) exists at 55 South Street and at the Spread Eagle in the High Street. Where central valley roofs have hipped ends a box gutter has to pass inside the roof to the outer face of the roof to permit the rainwater to be disposed of. Remains of this box gutter were noted at no. 11 indicating that the east end of no. 9 was also originally hipped. It has been assumed that nos. 9 and 11 are the ‘two messuages’ referred to, and no. 7 the one ‘now to be built’ in 1703. If this is correct it is possible that no. 9 was the first to be built with both ends of the roof hipped, followed by no. 11, whose roof was continued over the original building at the junction to form one uniform roof. A similar situation would have occurred when no. 7 was built, and it will be interesting to examine the roof of this property in due course.
The marked similarity between no. 11 and other Spa Period buildings is interesting, especially considering how the relationship between stair, external doors and cellar is maintained on this four-room plan.