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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 470: summary

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A historic building survey at High House Farm, Woodham Road, Battlesbridge, Chelmsford, Essex
by Leigh Alston

Date report completed: April 2008
Location: Rettendon
Map reference(s): TQ776955
File size: 33528 kb
Project type: Building recording
Significance of the results: Negative
Keywords: post-medieval, farmhouse, building recording

Summary. The weatherboarded exterior of the farmhouse at High House Farm is highly characteristic of coastal Essex and is of considerable historic significance in this respect. Its proportions and layout, with a Mansard roof, central stair-passage, gable chimneys and rear service lean-to is typical of 18th- and early 19th-century farmhouses in the region. Its interior, however, was heavily altered in the 1970s and retains few historic features. The timber-framed external walls and internal partitions are largely hidden by plaster and precise historic analysis is therefore hampered, but the majority of the present building appears to date only from the early 19th century. The northern half of the structure (excluding its roof and lean-to) survives from an older house on the site and appears to date from the late 17th or early 18th century; its walls consist of re-used 16th-century timbers but incorporate primary bracing and cannot therefore pre-date the mid 17th century. More information may well be revealed during any forthcoming remedial work. The farmyard to the west of the house contains a variety of mid 20th-century block-work buildings of no historic significance, but includes two timber-framed structures of the mid 19th century. A redundant cattle yard is formed by an open-sided shelter shed of 5 bays to the west and another of 3 bays to the east. The 5-bay structure was originally divided by a lateral partition into compartments of two and three bays respectively, and the 3-bay structure appears to have been open to all sides in the manner of a cart lodge or milking shelter. Both buildings underwent partial conversion for domestic purposes in the 1970s or 1980s (ostensibly) and are of limited historic value in consequence. The roadside barn which forms the northern side of the yard is a mid 20th-century brick replacement of an earlier barn shown on 19th-century maps. A brick shed of c 1920 to the south appears to have been designed as a machine shed or workshop with exceptionally large windows flanking a central entrance, but the building has been heavily mutilated and is, once again, of limited historic value as a result. A detached building to the south of the cattle yard, which may have been a stable, is shown on early 20th-century maps but has been rebuilt or altered beyond recognition.