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Leather artefacts and civil war link
RESTORATION work at one of the town’s iconic buildings has revealed the possibility it may have once made boots for Cavaliers or Roundheads.
The famous black and white ‘House on Stilts’, at the Top Cross junction dates to at least the time of the English Civil War.
Renovation work, which has made the timber-framed building stable after it had been repeatedly clipped by passing lorries, has thrown up a series of interesting historical possibilities.
Contractors studying the timber framework have found evidence that an unbroken series of windows once ran around the building’s first floor – at a time when glass was a rare and expensive commodity.
The most likely reason was that the building at 1 The Southend was built and used as a 16th or 17th century factory, for work that required a great deal of light.
The building is now owned by businessman Richard Thorogood, who leases it out for retail. One of his friends is Laurance Keen, fabrics manager at Windsor Castle, who has carried out research linking the House on Stilts to shoemaker Richard Laurence.
But a cobbler’s shop in 1585, the earliest likely date for the building, would have been very unusual indeed.
Mr Thorogood said: “This was mass production at a time when there was no mass production of shoes.”
Another possibility is that the building was put up at around the time of the English Civil War for the purpose of making boots, saddles and other leather goods for the Parliamentary or Royalist army.
Restoration work in the wattle and daub walls has not only revealed the remains of wooden panelling, but a number of leather off-cuts too.
Contractors have told Mr Thorogood the building appeared to have been built in in a hurry, and he said: “It could be a Civil War factory.
That might be a possibility.”
Mr Thorogood has speculated that Ledbury’s well appointed situation as a manufacturing town may have been one reason why the Royalist commander Prince Rupert of the Rhine decided to attack and take the town from the Parliamentarians in April 1645.
He points out that the fighting was through the streets, not in open fields as was more usual at the time, as if the aim was to capture individual buildings.
Because the building is at the head of the narrow New Street, it has been clipped by lorries 15 times in eight years and three bollards installed by Herefordshire Council are missing due to the impacts.
The building has been stabilised with the building of a fake internal wall.
If you know about the building’s history e-mail mm@ledburyreporter. co.uk or call Gary Bills-Geddes on
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