The Olde House

Formerly Bonhams

The Olde House is a 16th century timber-framed former farmhouse, although the timbering is now obscured by re-facing and extensions.  The front elevation has a gable at each end and a smaller central one - an arrangement typical of Elizabethan design.  Some of the internal timbering is still visible.  Until the early 20th century the building was a typical farm house.   The outbuildings, which comprised a barn and stable in the usual  layout, extended to the High Street corner.  The associated land comprised scattered fields.

In 1816 the farm was owned and occupied by John Cotterrell, one of a local farming family, associated primarily with Rotten Row.    By 1841 it had passed to Dr. John Kimbell, had been divided into three and had ceased to be a working farm..  At the rear, a part of the building at right angles to the frontage could well have become a separate dwelling, referred to as the ‘cottage at the end’ by one local resident.  Subsequently the house was bought by Mr. Toghill (“Toggie”), a manufacturing jeweller in Birmingham, whose housekeeper, Mrs. Knight, had a black poodle.   Mr. Toghill, who is still well remembered today, was here from 1938 until 1965.  

By 1888 Mr. H. C. Wilson had a wheelwright's and blacksmith's shop in the outbuildings near the corner.  By 1904 he had diversified into bicycles and turned more of the barn into a cycle workshop, where he remained until 1932.  The outbuildings were redeveloped about 1910 and again in the 1930s.  A photograph taken just afterwards shows a building with a low roof and what appears to be a barn door leading to the yard at the rear.  Its design suggests that it could have been part of the original outbuildings, which were demolished in 1967, when the corner was redeveloped again.

In 1966 the house became Sylvester's antiques dealer’s, followed in 1970 by Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, who added a showroom at the back, which covered the remaining external timbering. It has, however, been preserved as an internal feature.  Upstairs, no timbering is visible: at one time it was in use as a flat - the present owners found newspapers dating from the 1950s and 1960s when they lifted the carpets.   Phillips merged with Bonham’s in 2002.  The Olde House is now occupied by offices.

The Olde House in Mr.Toghill’s time.

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The corner showing the barns, with the edge of the end of the Olde House on the extreme left.

The Olde House in 2009.

Interior timbering, 2009.

The cottage at the rear, at right angles to the frontage.  The poodle belonged to Mr. Toghill’s housekeeper.