19-20 High Street, Kinver, South Staffordshire

19 – 20 High Street, Kinver is a timber-frame building, listed grade II.
In the Staffordshire volume of ‘The Buildings of England’ series, the late Nikolaus Pevsner states that in Kinver High Street the best houses are numbers 17-20.

When the Trust took the building over in 1993 it was in a dangerous condition, with parts close to collapse. By that stage no-one was prepared to take up the arrears of maintenance because it would have cost more than the market value to put it right. As a result of the WMHBT project, 19-20 High Street has been transformed into a comfortable four-bedroom home.

About the building

19-20 High Street is a timber-framed building dating to the late l6th century. It was a large house of at least three bays when it was built, but at some point in the 18th century it was subdivided, and the house that is now No. 18 became a separate property.
The remaining portion of the building (Nos. 19-20) was further subdivided at a later date. The project therefore involved about two-thirds of the original house.

High Street, Kinver

Before Photo

19-20 High Street, Kinver, South Staffordshire

Photo Taken Recently

Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the person who built the house, but we know for certain that it dates to the 1560s-1570s. Inside the building we discovered a door with a date of 1577 carved above it. (Incidentally the pattern carved on this door was used as the inspiration for our Trust logo.) In February 1994, the Trust commissioned the University of Nottingham to carry out a dendrochronological analysis of the building (tree-ring dating).

This established a much earlier date for the building than was originally believed.
The main timbers that make up the frame of the building were felled in 1562/63 and would have been used straight away whilst still ‘green’. This suggests that the carved door and its associated panelling are original fixtures.

Despite the damage caused by the previous owner, much of the original timber framing survived. It must have been built for a wealthy person, and was probably one of the first houses in Kinver with an in-built chimney stack. A detailed survey of the building revealed some of the alterations that have taken place since the 16th century, including the insertion of a second chimney stack c. 1700, and several generations of fire places in one of the downstairs rooms.

A number of interesting “finds” were made during the restoration, including a small leather ball, a baker’s peel, an old leather shoe, and a Bakelite make-up case! The baker’s peel is of particular interest, as it appears to have been sealed up around 1700, and suggests that the building may even have been the village bakery in the late 16th century.

High Street, Kinver

Drilling a core sample for tree ring dating.

The restoration

The Trust appointed John Greaves Smith, a local architect specialising in timber framed buildings, to draw up plans for the building.
By 1995, all the necessary local authority approvals had been obtained for the removal of the unauthorised extensions to the rear and the proper restoration of the building as a single four-bedroomed home.
Meanwhile, the Trust was busy raising the money needed to carry out the restoration project. The Trust had a small pool of funds and some money raised from the Trust’s “Heart of Oak” scheme where supporters were encouraged to sponsor the sections of the new oak needed to rebuild the timber frame where it had been damaged. The Trust also obtained grants from South Staffordshire Council and other local bodies. However, the principal sources of funding were a loan of £90,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund, and a grant of £64,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The total cost of the project was estimated to be around £200,000, but the value of the restored property was expected to be only £130,000 – hence the grant offered by the Heritage Lottery Fund made up the shortfall, and ensured that the project was viable.
The Trust sought tenders from five specialist contractors experienced in the restoration of timber-framed buildings. From these, Sandy and Co. Ltd. of Stafford were chosen. The building work started in April 1996, and was completed in November of that year. An open weekend, launched by Sir Patrick Cormack M.P. was held 23/24 November to give the local community a chance to see the completed restoration, inside and out before the house was sold.

JGS Coloured drawing 1994

Architects drawing to show how the restored building might look when completed.

Plaque Nov 2019

The high standards of the work were recognised by two awards: “The Carpenters’ Award” presented by English Heritage in recognition of “the sensitivity of approach and excellence of craftsmanship”; and a “mention” by the Civic Trust for its “worthy contribution to the community”.

19-20 High Street, Kinver was the first project to be completed by the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust and has several happy owners since the restoration was completed. Throughout the project the Trust received huge support from the local community of Kinver for which we shall always be grateful.

Carpenters Award 1997

Receiving the Carpenters Award in 1997. Far right front – Trust Chairman Alan Smith and second from the left project architect John Greaves Smith.