This is one of Canterbury's most photographed timber framed houses, with striking external features - particularly the large decorated bressumer beams and two grotesque corbels (Image 1). It was built around 1250 as the priest's house for nearby St Alphege church, with a first floor hall above a stone flagged undercroft. The timber framing and first floor overhang were added in the late 15th century, followed by major extensions in 1665 with addition of the second floor and a new building between the present structure and the church (Image 2). The new addition served as the rectory until demolition in the 1880s - only its doorway remains in the rather plain surviving wall. Around the same time, the ground floor facade was replaced by a recycled shop front, and the premises were used as a barber's and tobacconist's. Today, the interior (without public access) retains its central pier, double stone arches, massive oak joists, with heavy flagstones paving the first floor.
What to see:
the overall impact of an impressive (if much altered) timber framed building - Pevsner's Buildings of England series is usually sparing with its praise but describes this as 'an eye-stopper'
large exposed and decorated bressumer beams (the main horizontal timbers) on first and second floors (Images 3 and 4)
details in the carving of the beams - scrolls, coils, and 'guilloche' (repeated patterns of interlaced bands) (Image 5)
the two large-breasted cloven-hoofed corbel figures - there are many of these grotesques surviving in the cathedral and elsewhere in the city (Image 6)
side lancet windows (Image 7)
the Sun insurance fire plaque (Image 8)
the surviving entrance gate to what was the St Alphege rectory building (Image 9)
Access: no public access to interior