In the heart of pedestrian Hereford at the end of Market Place Square within an area known as High Town, is a rickety old half-timbered Jacobean building. It looks as if it’s been left there by accident, standing on its own as it does amongst the hustle and bustle of retail life.
Built in 1621, it is the only building remaining of a street called Butcher’s Row and, indeed, it was originally the home of a butcher. A coat of arms found over the porch signifies the Butcher’s Guild of London, which is thought strange as Hereford had its own Butcher’s Guild located in the nearby Market Hall.
Since then it has been an ironmongers, and was once a branch of the Worcester City and Coventry Banking Company before it was taken over by Lloyd’s Bank. The building was gifted to the City of Hereford in 1929 when it was turned into a museum and furnished as it would have been when it was originally built.
The entire building was moved on rollers in 1965 to make room for a new shop. It was then rolled back into place close to where it originally stood. And the whole thing was caught on Pathe films:
Hearth & Home
The heart of The Old House is the kitchen. Where possible, as many authentic seventeenth century items have been included within the room where possible. But the fireplace is even older and dates back to the 15th century, originally to be found in No 9 Eign Street, Hereford. The rotary spit in front of it is large enough to roast an entire sheep or pig - the mechanism used to turn the spit was rescued from the Bay Horse Inn in Oreton, Herefordshire.
Originally, there would have been a bread oven and a bread ark, which would have held enough loaves for a week to be proved. There are also a pair of ash chairs set by an oak table - the chairs were often made by young men as a betrothal item for their sweethearts.
The great stone fireplace in The Hall is another wonderful feature of this lovely old building and there is an amazingly ornate fireplace on the first floor is featuring an elaborately carved overmantle. The overmantle features two shields – the one on the left has been carved with crossed poleaxes – a weapon that looks rather like an axe on a long handle. These were popular as symbols on coats of arms in Mediaeval times.
The fireback bears the coat of arms of Charles 1 and is dated 1689.
There are lots of things to interest anyone, whatever there age, in this fascinating building. A 17th century baby-walker doesn't look so different to the ones produced today.
Children will enjoy dressing up in period costumes or trying to complete Jacobean jigsaws and makes a nice change from video games.
A building of this age wouldn’t be complete with a few ghosts who are said to get up to all sorts of mischief on the second floor. Curtains around a four-poster bed are often found drawn of their own accord or the bed left as a complete mess – no doubt a teenager ghost!
Free to visit, you’ll find the opening hours below and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the place. We love it.
- Monday 11 am to 4pm
- Tuesday 11am to 4pm
- Wednesday 10am to 4pm
- Thursday 11am to 4pm
- Friday 11am to 4pm
- Saturday 11am to 4pm
- Sunday 11am to 4pm (from 21 March to 25 September)
Closed: Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day.
High Town, Hereford HR1 2AA
Telephone: (01432) 260694