Emsworth's History - Roofline outlines of the town's medieval past
The distinctive mark of Emsworth's Plantagenet-era (c.1220) burgage plots are the shops fronting immediately onto the street with integral, covered side alleyways which allowed goods to be transported in and out of back courtyards. Most are today visible as front doors, but some survive — as at Citrus Flowers and Heidi's bakery on 'the Square' (sometimes referred to as St Peter's Square, but officially it's the High Street) and Amaya at the top of Queen Street.
Another vestige is in the gable-end pitched roofs that are only one burgage plot wide, resembling what would have been the originals at lower levels. The most visible is the side building of the Rowans Hospice shop in South Street. Another peeps above the Georgian facade of The Crown Hotel to the (viewer's) right of the building.
The planned town's layout can be seen on maps, one of which is shown below, viewable on the historicengland.org.uk website.
The High Street runs from No.1 (Starr's butchers) round the market square (the market established in the 1239 charter) to the library at 23 High Street, with most properties retaining the standard 13ft frontage and integral side alleyway/door. The Pantry Weigh (7 High Street) to Treagust butcher's (17 High Street) stretch has 13 identifiable plots, several of them (such as the former NatWest bank) double-fronted.
The High Street resumes on the other side of the Square (Heidi's being No.37), where clearly demarcated frontages and still-functioning covered alleys were shown in the September Shorelines.
Continuing round the corner, the street includes the complete frontages from Tower Street including Sue Foster Fabrics and ending with the combined Envisage and Old Pharmacy building (Nos.55 and 57).
The north side beginning at the Co-op (No.2) features an almost complete facade, from the hairdresser's (No.4) to another hairdresser's (No.48). The burgage plot dimensions can be clearly seen on the corner of Spring Gardens at Grate Fyres and the adjoining side bar of The Ship, which was until recently a shop. The former Hutchins, spread across two plots, amalgamated their alleyways running out the back, but are now separate shops once again.
South Street begins with Gascoigne Pees being No.1 (Wraight's the undertaker, formerly No.25 High Street, is now without a number on the Square).
At No.25 the former Oddbins, about to become Woosters, is an intricate timber-framed building — with several beams recycled from earlier constructions. The 'fishermen's cottages' opposite are also ancient.
West Street, beginning with The Town Brewery (No.2), with several old cottages adjacent, is rebuilt on the north side. Incredibly, this was the South Coast's main road until the 1970s, with traffic lights regulating a one-way flow. North Street then starts with Lloyds Pharmacy as No.2, the Emsworth Surgery being No.6.
The top of Queen Street from Keyprint (No.2) retains burgage plot widths and alleyway doors, as at Amaya (No.6) and in 18th century the buildings, as at Tiffin's (No.10). A dozen are listed buildings, to be described in a forthcoming review.
Bob Smyth September 2015
Published in "Shorelines"
10b North Street,
(above the Fire Station)
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