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© Mr John Barker

IoE Number: 483589
Photographer: Mr John Barker
Date Photographed: 28 April 2006
Date listed: 12 November 1953
Date of last amendment: 12 November 1953
Grade II*

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WELLS ST5446 THE LIBERTY 662-1/6/306 (East side) 12/11/53 No.17 De Salis House and De Salis Cottage GV II* Former house, now part of Wells Cathedral School. Late C14, C15, various alterations and additions in C17, internal restructuring C18 and early C19. Random local stone rubble with ashlar dressings, and all-ashlar porch, Welsh slate double roof with sawn stone ridge between coped gables, stone chimney stacks. PLAN: a complex plan of accretion; the front C15 range an E-plan, with former hall to left of entrance porch, but interior now on 2 floors. Behind this, running the full width and beyond to the S is an earlier range, with former C14 first-floor hall, and at the left (N) end a late C19 cross wing. EXTERIOR: partly single storey, remainder 2-storey, 5 bays, of which bay 1 is a projection with chimney stack on return face, and bay 3 a projecting porch. Bays 1 and 2 single-storey, with battlemented parapet with quatrefoil panels to merlons, bay 1 has a 2-centre arched hoodmould of a former window, bay 2 has a 18-pane sash window set under an older square label having headstops. The porch to bay 3 is gabled, with angled corner buttresses crowned with pinnacles. 4-centred outer arch having carved spandrels and square headstop label. Bay 4 has a C20 door and flanking windows to ground floor and a 3-light chamfer-mullioned window in chamfered reveal above, bay 5 is a projecting gable with chimney stack to the crown, with an 18-pane sash window to ground floor with flat hoodmould over, with a 2-light chamfer-mullioned window without label to the first floor. A later, probably C17, wing projects westwards from the south-west corner, with C20 modifications, single-storey with attics, 4 bays. The rear is in 2 parts, in rendered rubble; to the left are 4 bays with 12-pane sashes, taken to the floor level in the ground floor, and with a central gable. The S gable has a small square stack. The right half has a 2-light casement with mullion and horizontal bars, and a coped gable brought forward over a 2-storey bow, and a 6-light casement with transom, above a large 4-centred arch with a deep-set pair of doors. INTERIOR: the interior generally has C18 or C19 detailing, but major early fabric remains in the roof structure of both principal ranges. The porch has a 4-compartment ceiling, opening to a square entrance hall with a baluster staircase. The former solar has a 3-light C16 small-pane casement with 4-centred heads to the lights. The rear wall is very thick, with panelled linings. To right of hall is a blocked doorway to former service range; door to rear gives to internal passageway. Rear rooms mainly late C18, front rooms in wing include a reset stone fireplace with 4-centred hollow-moulded arch and bread oven, and one C16 beam with deep chamfer. The left wing much sub-divided, with inserted floor, and C20 iron spiral staircase. Rear range has decorative plasterwork and detail of later C18 or early C19. The rooms at upper level also have late detail. The C15 roof in the front range is of 10 bays and includes 4 bays of heavy arch-braced trusses and chamfered wind-braces, ridge purlin, and chamfered butt-tenoned purlins; interrupted by later work on return wing at south end, with early floorboards. Over the rear range is an extensive (and remarkable for its type and date) example of a late C14 barrel roof with curved rafters at c500mm centres, and with some ribs moulded, with hollow-plus-ogee mould. This roof also cut into by later work on the return wing. HISTORICAL NOTE: the first recorded tenant, in the early C12, was Thomas de Kelmescote, but the house was known for centuries as Lechlade's (sometimes Lichfields), after Thomas de Lechlade, a vicar choral, installed here in 1316. The present name is taken from Bishop de Salis, who was in residence from 1915 to 1931. A new tenant in 1689 complained that he was "... at large expense in repairing it...", but on quitting his tenancy in 1710 was said to have gutted the house in turn. In 1930 approval was gained to transform the building into two dwellings, but in 1955 it was leased to the Cathedral School, which still holds it. In Pevsner's 'North Somerset' this building is identified as No.1, East Liberty. (Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 327; Bailey S: Canonical Houses of Wells: Gloucester: 1982-: 62 - 73).

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