Some notes on 128/30 High Street, Epsom

1991/1 p4


Some notes on 128/30 High Street, Epsom


This building is situated at the west end of the High Street, facing eastwards towards the Clock Tower, and forms part of a line of properties once known as Coffee House Row. What started as a refurbishment of no. 128/30 has ended up with a major reconstruction, but the builders allowed access for recording in October 1990.


By reference to Dr. Lehmann’s book The Residential Copyholds of Epsom, it can be shown that only one messuage occupied the site now occupied by 126–132 High Street and 1–5 West Street in 1695, but by 1708 a further three had been constructed. No. 128/30 was clearly built after nos. 126 and 130 as it used the side walls of these buildings as its own. The side walls of these adjacent properties was clearly in face brickwork and, in the case of no. 132, there had been a string course on the side wall that had been hacked off when no. 128/30 was built. On the side of no. 126, projecting behind no. 128/30, is a lean-to, and this is thought to have continued forward onto the site of no. 128/30 about half way to the road. The evidence for this is that the brickwork on the side of no. 126 stops halfway back from the front of no. 128/30, and the remaining wall is studwork which would have been covered by the lean-to if it had extended forward.


No. 128/30 consists of two floors with further rooms in the attics that are lit by three dormers in the front roof and one at the rear. The roof is divided into three bays by collar beam trusses, between which span the purlins, all of which are at the same level. As nos. 126 and 132 are not parallel to each other, there is a made-up triangle adjacent to no. 126. The front wall was originally of brick but the right-hand half of the rear wall (adjacent to the lean-to of no. 132) was of studwork. One original window opening remains on the first floor of the front wall (now blocked) in a central location, but the outer edges of the flanking windows have been identified. The present 1:3:1 windows are probably late nineteenth century, as is the terracotta parapet in front of the dormer windows (it is not shown in a photograph of the 1860s). When no. 128/30 was built its roof line was run into the hipped end of no. 132 to form a continuous ridge, and modifications were also carried out to the roof of no. 126. Here the gable was reformed as a swept half-hip with a small link onto no. 128/30; these works enabled the construction of the present parapet facade to no. 126.


It is not possible to reconstruct the internal layout of no. 128/30 in detail, but there clearly have been two staircases (one in each of the rear corners) which, with the lack of access between the left and right hand parts of the attics, indicates dual occupation at some time. A reference to this and adjacent properties in 1755 tends to confirm this: ‘3 messuages in 4 tenements’. The main chimney stack is located to the left of centre of the area of the building, and evidence for another stack remained at first floor in a central location. Unfortunately, all joinery had been removed prior to the survey, so further detail on the interior is not possible. At the rear was a group of outshots that are being rebuilt and in the foundation trench a chalk lined well with brick upper levels was uncovered.


Apart from the main timberwork little of the original ‘envelope’ of no. 128/30 will remain, but there had been extensive alterations to the property during this century. The line of the new back wall is slightly different from the original owing to the problems of building against another owner’s property (the original line is indicated by the projecting ends of the tie beams beyond the back wall). This problem did not arise when the building was erected as all the properties from 132 High Street round to 11 West Street were in the ownership of Francis Wood (see ‘Some notes on 11 West Street, Epsom’, Newsletter 1990/6 pp2–3). It is hoped that it will be possible to record more buildings in this group when opportunities become available.


Ian West