The Old House in Rochford was built in 1270, seated on South Street it’s a real gem in the District’s crown and a must see for everyone.
The main hall was the first part of the house to be built and is more than 700 years old. Built of a timber frame with wattle and daub panels the house really was the height of luxury in medieval England.
The panels were made from a mixture of mud, dung, reeds and rushes all gathered from the nearby River Roach and was plastered with a mixture of goat hair and lime, with the wood supplied from Hockley Woods.
The whole family would have lived in the hall along with the servants and even the animals in the winter months. A fire would burn in the centre of the room which would be used for cooking, heating and lighting. It would have been lined with tiles angled at 45° - this was to cause an under draught to keep the fire burning. Logs would have been piled in a criss –cross formation with the smoke escaping from a small hole in the roof.
In 1290, an extension wing was added to the north side of the hall with the south wing being added 100 years after that. The main hall was still the principle area but the extra wings housed the masters bedrooms and a buttery.
In 1550 a chimney stack was added to replace the fire in the main hall being one of the most prestigious in the country. At this time chimney stacks were a mark of status. This one demonstrates a very high standing.
In the 1700s the upper floors were added allowing the servants to have their own living quarters in the south wing.
Rochford District Council bought the building in 1982 and using traditional methods managed to restore the house to its original glory using as much of the original materials as possible, there was even a cauldron of hand made limewash in the garden area which was used to paint the outside walls.
You can read about experiences from The Old House on walking tours run by Rochford Town Team on their 'Memory Lane' pages here