Old Forge & Little Thatches Cottages
Most people are aware that the oldest building in Stratford is the Church, however a question often asked is ‘What is the oldest, relatively unaltered house, in the village’? Probably that honour goes to the Old Forge and Little Thatches Cottages.
There are houses in the village with origins that go back further, such as The Parsonage Farmhouse and Mawarden Court, however their original architectural design has, in each case, been substantially altered or added to over the centuries. Their original form would almost certainly have been the ‘Hall style’ of house which in the beginning consisted of essentially a single large rectangular room with a very high ceiling. ‘Hall style’ dwellings belonged to the more wealthy people of the village whereas the Old Forge and Little Thatches Cottages would have been occupied by families who worked on or for large estate type Farms, in this case The Parsonage Farm. They would have been associated with people carrying out crafts or crop and animal management.
The RCHME lists the cottages in their 1980 survey publication of the Historical buildings in Salisbury (Ref 1) as two adjacent houses which would have been originally divided into four dwellings. The two storied houses have timber-framed walls, set on rubble plinths, and thatched roofs. Their style of construction suggests they were built over 400 years ago probably towards the end of the second half of the 16th century. They are fine examples of cottages from that period and are Grade II listed by English Heritage.
The OS map of 1900 shows the Smithy annotated, however the 1st edition of the OS map of 1887-9 only indicates that the Post Office was located where the Old Forge and Little Thatches Cottages are but does show the Smithy building next door to it.
1900 OS Map
1887--9 OS Map
There can be little doubt that historic buildings, such as The Old Forge and Little Thatches Cottages, help to give Stratford much of its charm and distinctive character.
1. ‘The Ancient and Historical Monuments in the City of Salisbury’, Vol 1, RCHME 1980.
2. ‘Traditional Timber Framing: A Brief Introduction’, University of the West of England, 2008.
3. ‘Medieval England’, Colin Platt, 1978, Fig 134.
The article above was first published in the Friends of St Lawrence Church Autumn 2011 Newsletter and appears on this website by kind permission of David James.