68 HighStreet – The George Hotel

 

George HotelThis listed building is described by the Department of the Environment as a timber-framed building re-fronted in the 18th century, and goes on to describe the paintwork, windows, the door case and modern door. Some exposed timbering was seen by the inspector at the rear.

This scant description of the oldest surviving Ashford inn, mentioned in the will of John Burwashe, 4th May, 1533, seems a rather inadequate description. It is to be regretted that inspectors pay little attention to interiors, when a cursory look round would have shown the antiquity of this inn.

The Plan

Fig. 1 - Ground Floor Plan

Fig. 1

(Fig. 11)

The inn flanks the High Street with a high tiled roof, half-hipped on the right. Two main wings extend back from this. On the ground floor, a corridor runs from the front door for 64 ft. to the yard at the rear. The first room on the left, the dining room, shows little evidence of medieval woodwork, by reason of its decorations, except that there is a fireplace with a wooden bressummer. From the corridor a typical winding staircase with old timbers leads to the upper rooms.

On the right-hand side of the passage are the two bars, the most interesting being the back one over- looking the yard. This seems to have been the original kitchen. The room is beamed and has a large fireplace with oak bressummer and oak brackets each side with slots to hold utensils—these may be original or an importation.

Originally there was an open space between this room and the front bar, shown in old plans. From this it is clear that the kitchen was virtually a detached building, a medieval practice to minimise the risk of fire. Latterly, the open space was roofed over with a flat roof.

First Floor:

Fig. 2 - Section of ceiling beam

Fig. 2 – Section of ceiling beam

Over the Dining Room is the Residents’ Lounge, approximately 32 ft. long. Halfway and at the inner end of the room are two exposed oak cambered tie- beams. This shows that the street-front section and this wing were contemporary and date from the late 15th century, and that the inn at first was L-shaped in plan. A moulded beam in another part has a profile used in such timbers during that period (Fig. 2).

 

 

Plate 1 = Part of the West Wall

Plate 1 – Part of the West Wall

In 1986, the building next to ‘The George’, comprising Nos. 70 and 72, was demolished. It was confirmed by maps that No. 70 was an infilling between No. 72 and the inn on a plot only 10 ft. wide. As a window of the inn overlooked the space, it was necessary for a light-well to be made, the inn owners exercising their right to ‘ancient lights’. From this space it can be seen that the upper floor of the inn is jettied and the wall close-studded—further confirmation of the dating (Plate 1).

It appears that the 10 ft. space was part of a lane leading from the High Street to Park Street. This may account for a traditional story that a bridle-path from South Ashford led through the archway of the present-day [Nationwide] (75 High Street) [Refer to information on Bull Yard], then through the open area under the one-time Assembly Rooms (now the King’s Parade), across the street and ‘through’ ‘The George’ to Park Street and the fields beyond.

Briscall W., 1987, Discovering Ashford’s Old Buildings, Ashford, LRB Historical Publications

List Entry

List entry Number: 1071094 ➚

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1951

  1. 5344 HIGH STREET (North Side) No 68 (The George Hotel) TR 0042 NE 2/24 24.9.51.
  2. A timber-framed building refronted in the C18. Some exposed timbering is visible on the rear elevation. 2 storeys. The ground floor is painted brick, the 1st floor is stuccoed. Tiled roof with coved eaves cornice. Two 3-light bays on both floors with glazing bars intact except on the ground floor of the east bay, which has been converted into a door leading to the Bar. Wide doorcase with pilasters and pediment. Modern door.