Shrapnell House, 6 & 7 St Margaret's Street Bradford
Report compiled February 2003 By P.M. Slocombe
Wiltshire Buildings Record, Libraries and Heritage HQ, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, Wilts BAM 8BS Tel. (01225) 713740 Open Tuesdays

This is a medium-sized town house of 3-room plan, 2 1/2 storeys high with evidence that it dates originally from around 1600. It underwent extensive alterations at the end of the 17th century with further work in the second half of the 18th century and the period 1825-45.
Site and history
The building is situated on a wedge-shaped plot with steeply rising ground towards the rear. It is above flood levels of the river Avon and on the site next south of No. 5 St Margaret's Street, a fine detached house of early 18th century date with a passageway between it and Shrapnell House. Jones 'The Parish of Bradford-on-Avon' describes the medieval Hospital of St. Margaret, an almshouse and chapel, mentioned in a deed of 1458/9 and a will of 1490, as being in this area 'at the foot of the bridge' but without quoting his reason for placing it there. Roger Mawby believes it is more likely to have been further south in houses called The Catch, leased as a workhouse in 1754.
Shrapnell House faces a little S of W, taken as W in this report. A gothic-arched doorway leads to a passage between the house and No. 5 (photograph F1387.8). The area of the passage formerly belonged to Shrapnell House but was sold to No. 5 during the 20th century (information from the owner).
The N. gable of Shrapnell House is of rubble stone all of one build. It is much thinner than the other external walls. There is a blocked 3-light ogee-moulded mullioned window to the attic.
The facade (F1387.9) has a plinth at the foot of the wall but whether its capping was moulded is not discernible because of repairs. It is constructed of rubble with a concrete render. The main face of the wall is of ashlar stone. There are string courses above the 3 levels of window. The windows of the top two floors have ogee-moulded mullions. On the ground floor these have been replaced by gothic-arched windows with margin lights coloured orange, green and blue (colour photographs P18036 and P18037). Some white figured glass remains in the spandrels of the arches. At the S end of the facade there are single light windows on the ground and first floors lighting a staircase. The two matching gothic porches have moulded archways, (see sheet of drawings).
There are coloured lights above the doors. The doors are 4-panelled with heavy mouldings. No. 7 has a brass number with brass knocker and letter box. Between the front doors is a window which is probably the site of the original entrance door. This window has pinky red squares in the bottom corners where the others have green.
The thickness of the front wall of the house is not easy to determine because of alterations. On the N side of the No. 6 entry it appears to be 23" but has probably been cut back. On the S. side of the No. 7 doorway it is 27". The front roof slope has stone tiles.
The rear roof has triple Roman tiles. There is a large gable for the roof of the rear stairs and the central stack in one block (F1391.5A). A smaller gable marks the position of the NE stack. A short pent roof covers the rear corridor between the rear room at the N end and the long rear wing at the S. end(F1391.6A).
Rear yard and garden
Two doors from the rear corridor give access to the rear yard (F1391.6A). Close to the door which is in line with the short stair from the central room, 2 ashlar stone blocks in the wall of the rear wing have some inscriptions (F1391.16A). The lower stone has a cluster of 9 interlocking circles, the initials EH, and a capital E above a larger T. Above the E partly on this stone and partly on the stone above is a larger scribed circle with rays inside it. The circles may be a variety of the usual good luck symbols widely found on houses dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
Rear range
A window in the centre of the ground floor of the rear range was formerly longer. The range has
an ashlar front wall and a pantiled roof (F1391.7A and F1391.8A).
The stone boundary wall on the N side of the yard may remain from a previous rear extension (F1391.ISA). An ammonite is set into it (F1391.4A). There is an alcove perhaps constructed from a former doorway, closed up when the passageway was sold to No. 5. The alcove has brick alterations and battens at the sides. There are nails on one to support tools.
Stone winder steps lead up from the yard to the garden above. On the S side there is a coal shed constructed of ashlar stone (F1391.9A). The wall on the N side of the garden at this level is well-built and of squared coursed rubble stone. Close to the top there are two straight joints indicating a former gateway (F1391.ll A).
Building in the NE corner of the top garden
The top section of the garden was formerly a separate property. Only the N and E walls, which are also boundary walls, of a former building remain (F1391.10A). In the N wall there are 3 blocked openings with timber lintels and a timber lacing piece between two of them. At a higher level there are 2 straight joints with quoin stones suggesting perhaps a shorter wall here once. Round the corner the E wall has a blocked fireplace and a chimney stack above (F1391.12A). The fireplace looks no earlier than late 18th century in date. To its S there is a blocked doorway. Further S the wall is set in a little and further again there is a straight joint with quoins each side.
Small building on the W side of the top area.
This has a single pitch pantiled roof (F1391.13 A). The N wall shows several builds (F1391.14A). It was probably a lower building before, perhaps a pigsty. There is a blocked window or low door with a timber lintel in this wall. There is also a partly blocked tiny opening at a higher level, also having a timber lintel. The E (front) wall is much rebuilt. The original wall seems to have been made of coursed, squared rubble stone which is visible at the foot of the wall and by the doorway. This might be of late 18th century date. There is mortar containing burnt cinders (of probably 19th century date) around an opening blocked with large ashlar stones. The roof has a tiebeam across near the door. It is a re-used timber with joist mortices and a medium chamfer. A single purlin runs from the S end and rests on a block on the tiebeam. It is a very old decayed timber with mortices and pegholes. It might have once been a principal rafter with mortices for a purlin with a soffit spur and for a collar.
Building to its S
This is constructed of large ashlar stone. It has a flat roof. The windows have been made
Main house. Ground floor
N. front room
This is panelled on the W and N walls and on the E section of the S wall. It is in large panels
with the dado rails gone. There are 3 planks per panel with quadrant moulding around them,
mitred at the corners (F1391.1A). The lower row of panels has the same moulding. On the N
wall the 2 central panels and on the reveal of the N side of the window there is the shadow of a
floral design in a diamond pattern, possibly from wallpaper formerly on top (F13 87.13 and
At the top of the walls there is a moulded wooden cornice, rather stuck up with paint (see sheet
of drawings, and photographs P18034 and F1387.11).
The E wall has a central fireplace with a cupboard each side (F 13 87.10). The N cupboard has a
glazed door at the top of later type than the lower door. It formerly had 3 shelves inside, now
gone but battens remain. Portions of the original curved timber back of the cupboard survive to
the rear of a later flat planked back (F1387.12). Behind the cupboard is a deep alcove alongside
the stack, twice as deep as the depth of the cupboard. At the back of it is the original outside
wall of the house. In the ceiling of the cupboard a beam runs E/W with medium chamfers. The
walls appear to have plaster painted blue originally.
The lower part of the cupboard has a brass-handled door. Its panel has the same moulding as the
paneling in the room.
The fireplace has a shelf on scrolled brackets. It has a plain wood surround with blocks at the
foot. Inside is an iron horseshoe grate of perhaps c. 1860. The trap to the chimney and the basket
have gone. There is a large hearth stone, cracked. Looking up the chimney there is a very large
flue behind the fireplace. The stack is of rubble stone and forward of the original outside wall.
The stack has narrow panels each side with a wide central area which perhaps held a mirror or
furnishing picture.
The right cupboard also formerly had 3 shelves. There is again a glass door at the top but the
bottom is solid with no door. The cupboard backs on to a large cupboard off the N wall of the
central room.
The N room floor is of narrow planks. The S wall at the door end is constructed of lath and
plaster. The panelling comes W about 46" from the E wall and behind it is an ashlar stone wall.
Central room
A beam runs E/W just inside the N wall of the room. It has a 4" chamfer with a stop at the E end
(a small shallow step, bar and runout?). The cupboard into the area behind the right cupboard off
the N room has a flagstone floor. It was perhaps a passage?
The fireplace is on the E wall. The cupboard to the left of it has tongue and groove boarding at
the back. This was perhaps another passage. The fireplace has a flat arch and some iron fittings
in the rear wall. It may have had a hobgrate which has gone. The chimney shows the fireplace
was originally deeper.
A beam runs to near the right end of the stack from over the N side of the central front window.
It has a 4" chamfer and no stops.
To the right of the stack is a cupboard under the staircase. Its right wall is constructed of ashlar
stone. There is a further beam close to the wall with the S room.
South room
Like the N room this has the appearance of a parlour, however, it is likely to have originated as a kitchen. A beam runs N/S into the centre of the stack (F1387.14). It has stops at the S end (rounded step, bar and runout). Panelling is only left on the E wall to the S comprising a 48"long section of lath and plaster wall. There is a hatch in it showing the floor of the room to the rear is 44" higher than the S. room floor. The former exterior wall here is perhaps 30" thick but is either panelled or has a lath and plaster skin on the W side. There were probably steps up to the rear room here once. The panelling has 2 plain planks per panel in a surround with a quadrant moulding.
The room has traces of blue paint under later paints. The cupboard to the left of the fireplace in the S wall has glass doors of 19th century type. The lower part of the cupboard has a small brass handle.
The fireplace has a painted, grey stone surround elaborately patterned, with a central Vitruvian scroll pattern and has borders at the top and bottom of further decoration (see photographs P18035 and F1387.15 and drawing). The surround has a flat head. The iron grate inside is also flat headed with a possibly bolection moulding surrounded by grey tiles. There are also grey tiles in the hearth and a wooden shelf of 19th century type above. The chimney is much deeper inside. The cupboard to the right of the stack is similar to the left one. To the right again, in the corner, is a newel staircase with squared flagstones beneath it. The depth of the stack as measured in the staircase area is 4'.
Rear room at the N end
A short flight of stairs with a moulded hand rail each side leads from the rear of the central room to an area with a flat roof behind the N and central rooms. In it the original exterior wall is visible behind the N end of the N room and the main central stack wall protrudes next to it. The exterior wall has a number of anomalies (Fl 391.2A and drawing). Vertical straight joints probably relate to the insertion of the N room stack. Was there also perhaps a window here at one time? Also the lower part of the wall in the NE corner appears to be of different construction from the upper part which may indicate it was a plinth.
To the S of this there is a cupboard area in the former central stack. It has an upwards curving side wall which may well be looking from the back at the throat of the chimney for the original fireplace here. The stack appears to have a very soft original mortar which may be loam (mud mortar) with hair in it. It also seems to have had a mud rendering containing straw over it.
Through the N ashlar wall of this rear area, there is a doorway blocked also with ashlar stone which would have led into the side passage N of the house in the period before this was sold to the adjoining Liberal Club (No. 5).
The E wall of this area is of rubble stone roughly squared and appears to pre-date the flat roof (F1391.15 A). At the S end attached to it was a 'cupboard' of ashlar stone which was a larder before the present works started but may have once been a privy. It has a tiny window in its S wall towards the yard (F1391.3A).
Range to rear of S room
There is a long wing behind the S room. The first room from the main house has a floor of irregular flagstones. There is a fireplace with a squared opening in the S wall of the room. It might have accommodated a small range in the 19th century. It is constructed of roughly squared stones and there is a wooden shelf above. The N wall of the room is narrow, the S wall may be that of the adjoining house. A window at the E end of the front N wall has finely moulded glazing bars. There is a sash window further W over a sink. On the E wall there are shelves with shaped end boards of pine which are probably the top part of a dresser.
An ashlar stone partition divides off a further small room to the E. There are various anomalies in its walls. Alteration in the SW comer may indicate the former position of a copper. There is replacement brickwork at the bottom of the wall and a straight joint next to it in the S wall.
A winder staircase in the first room leads to the first floor of the range. At the top of the stair there is a simple slatted balustrade. There is a blocked doorway in the S wall at the top of the stairs. A blocked small window next to it has its lintel above the stairs and about 15" above first floor level. The S room has a possible taking-in door in the N wall not far from the staircase turret of the main house.
Over the fireplace on the ground floor there is a blocked first floor fireplace with a flat stone lintel. The stack at this level has a rounded W end. It is not particularly deep. The window in the N wall is a small sash of 2 x 4 panes with moulded glazing bars. It has a brass closer but no longer opens. The shallow roof of the range was glimpsed. It did not look very old and had a board ridge piece.
First floor of the main range
The large N room
A 2-panel door with deep applied mouldings of bolection type leads into the room (F13 87.17 and drawing). The front wall of the room measures 22" to the glass and about 5" beyond. A beam over the S end of the N window in the W wall runs E/W. It has no stops. Another beam against the N wall has a bar and scroll stop. The fireplace on the E wall has a bolection-moulded surround (F1387.16 and drawing). Inside is a horseshoe grate complete with basket and chimney trap (P18040).
From the interior there appears to be a straight joint in the NW corner between the N end wall and the front wall. There might be a blocked doorway in the N wall.
Central small room
A 2 panel door of 18th century type leads into the room. There is a gas fitting with a shade on the S side of the door. Over the doorway is a borrowed light window in 4 panes with moulded glazing bars (P18038). A beam runs over the partition on the N side of the room and continues over the doorway into the N. room.
South room
The window mullions are ogee-moulded on the inside as well as the outside. A beam runs E/W. It has a wide chamfer and no stops. There is also a beam above the partition on the N side of the room. The fireplace in the S wall contains a hobgrate (Pl8039). Higher up the throat of the chimney widens. A door from the room to the room in the rear extension (at a higher level) was formerly a window.
Rear staircase to the attic
This is a dog leg stair. The newel post is square with scratch mouldings and a flattened ball finial
(F1387.18). A similar newel post survives from the ground to first floor stair but the balusters
and handrail of that stair have been lost. At the top of the stair three plain rails run from the
newel post to the S side wall (F1387.21).
hi the E wall there is a single-light ogee-moulded window lighting the attic stair. The E wall is
probably 24" thick. It measures 18" to the glass. Panelling of wide boards runs along next to theN side of the upper flight. There are moulded edges to 2 planks. One of them, moulded on both sides, has a scratched protection mark M written on its side (see drawing).
The attic rooms are ceiled almost at the tops of the collars. At the S end, at the top of the kitchen stair, there is an 18th century door in 2 large panels with an additional small panel at the top. A shelf in the upper stair window has original mouldings to the edge. The trusses in the attic rooms are covered with paint and plaster so it is difficult to see all mortices. The upper part of the roof can be reached from a hatch in the ceiling of the N attic room. The upper area is cramped and not easy to move around in. No carpenter's marks were recorded though they were looked for.
From the S end, truss A
Its centre is about 51" from the kitchen stack. Lower purlins run S from it (F1387.20). The E one is supported on a strut against the stack (F1387.23). The W one runs to the wall S of the kitchen stair. This wall has an unexplained 'jetty' out about 16" from the lower wall at about the level of the 1st floor ceiling (F1387.22). A pre-existing wall (belonging to the adjoining house?) may have been thinned on ground and first floor levels to provide a wide stair. The W upper purlin is just visible over the stair (the ceiling is higher than in the attic rooms). In the upper roof the upper purlin on the E side is seen to be at a lower level. Truss A has the purlins tenoned into the principal rafters. The purlins do not have soffit spurs. In the bay between trusses A and B they run at a raised level past the dormer window at the front of the house (F1387.20) and a similar blank recess at the rear. The common rafters on the W side are only above the lower purlin. They are hidden on the E side. The truss has vertical struts from the tiebeam (under the floor) to support it at the lower purlin position and has a slightly cambered tenoned collar, chamfered both sides.
On the E side of a partition dividing the S attic room from the main stair area there is another gas light fitting by the entrance door and another round the corner facing S with no shade (F1387.19).
Truss B
This is situated at the S side of the rear attic staircase and has (or had) straight windbraces of
small scantling on each side (F1387.19). They rise from above the strut. The principal rafters
include sapwood and bark in places at the apex and could therefore probably be dated by
Truss C
This is at the N side of the rear attic staircase. The principal rafters are quite massive and the ridge piece is threaded through the uppermost principal. There is a board attached to the N side just below the apex (F1387.24A). This truss also has timbers with sapwood and bark.
A 3 plank door leads into the N attic room. In bay C/D the upper purlin has the common rafters pegged to it.
Truss D
This runs into the NE stack. The principal rafters are yoked below the apex with smaller timbers
forming the apex. The ridge piece is clasped just below the apex resting partly on a small piece
of timber nailed on the N side to these extensions of the principal rafters (F1391.0A). A large
timber is nailed on the S side. The common rafters are fairly broad and pegged to the ridge
In the bay between trusses D and E the upper purlin on the E side is at a lower level but there is a half-length purlin continuing the raised level lower purlin in the bay to its S (between trusses C and D) across the parlour stack and an empty mortice for it in the end N. truss E. To this half-length purlin are attached the valley pieces for the parlour stack. There are pegs in holes in the lower purlin here for rafters which have been removed when the stack was built.
Truss E
This is situated rather awkwardly against the N wall of the house. Its collar curves just over the attic window in the N wall and one end is more embedded in the N wall than the other. It has a tenoned apex with a threaded ridge piece (F1387.24). On the E principal rafter there is a blocked former mortice for a higher level upper purlin to match the one between trusses C and D but the common rafters are pegged to the current upper purlin with no sign of earlier holes. Probably the rafters were replaced when the stack was added.
There is another gas light fittingon the N end wall of the N attic room.

Discussion of the dateable features

I am grateful to Linda Hall for her advice on dated examples in other counties. I have also used
her book 'Fixtures and Fittings in Dated Houses'.
The threaded apex type is in common use in Wiltshire from the early 16th century to the early 17th century with occasional later examples. The narrow straight windbraces mostly date, in houses, from the late 16th to the early 17th centuries. The vertical struts to the principal rafters and the raising of the purlins past dormer gables are found in late 16th and early 17th century houses. In all the roof seems likely to date from the 1580-1620 period.
2. Dormer shape
The raised dormer gables, standing up from the roof and with kneelers, are characteristic of the
late 17th and very early 18th centuries locally.
3. Wall thickness
Both front and rear original walls are about 27"-28" thick. This is a typical thickness locally for the late 16th-early 17th centuries. The rear staircase outer wall is 24" thick, more typical of the rest of the 17th century.
4. Ogee-moulded mullions
These are very common in North and West Wiltshire. Examples usually date from the end of the 17th century to the mid 18th century. In other counties examples have been found from the period 1602-1678 but they may differ slightly. A very similar moulding of 1698 has been recorded in Gloucestershire.
5. Rear staircase
The rather squat turned balusters are likely to date from the late 17th century, the handrail can be paralleled by a 1698 Wiltshire example. The newel post with its flattened bun finial can be compared to other examples of c. 1680-1700.
6. Fireplaces
The first floor N. room bolection-moulded fireplace can be compared to identical mouldings of 1678 (Gloucestershire) and 1692 (Hants).
The ground floor S room fireplace; the carved motif in the outer moulding is similar to a published example of 1751. The carved motif on the inner moulding is shown on a 1739 fireplace design by William Jones and on a doorcase of about 1770. The central motif, the Vitruvian scroll is also shown on a 1739 William Jones design and apparently was also favoured by Adam. So a date around 1740-70 is likely.
The first floor S room hobgrate has an identical design to one at my own house, 11 Belcombe
Place, Bradford-on-Avon which dates to the 1838-41 period.
The horseshoe grate inserts in the N. ground floor and first floor rooms is of c. 1860 type.
7. Doors
The applied raised moulding to the door into the first floor N. room is similar to an example of
1698 in Gloucestershire.
8. Beams
The beams have a medium depth of chamfer. Some have no stops. Three have as follows; shallow step/bar/runout, rounded step/bar/runout and bar/scroll. They are likely to date from the early 17th century.
9. Gothic features
It has been suggested that the twin porches and the associated side gateway and ground floor windows date from the division of the property into two in 1825. This is possible but another possibility is that the building was divided then but the ornamental alterations took place a bit later. They are perhaps more characteristic of the 1840s and by 1851 Henry Fricker, plumber, glazier and decorator was the tenant of No. 6 and from at least 1840 William Long, a mason, was tenant of No. 7. The coloured glass in gothic settings would be a fine advertisement for their combined skills. The first floor hobgrate in No. 7 is also of around this date.
10. Cornicer N room, ground floor
Very similar ones but more complex have been recorded from 1692, Hampshire. The panelling
looks to be a similar date.
Phase 1 ~ c.1600

The main range appears to date from about the period 1600-1620. The evidence for this is the thickness of the exterior walls, the carpentry of the roof which is all one build and the beam stops. The roof is a type used with early gable dormers and these would be much larger than the present dormers. The original plan seems to have been a kitchen at the S end with a newel stair adjoining and a beam running N/S. Any further original partitioning of the ground floor is not easy to determine and the remaining beams run E/W without mortices in the soffits for studs. The large lateral stack at the rear has been much altered over the years but it straddles the central room and the N room (see reconstruction drawing). There were first floor and attic rooms. There were no rear extensions.
If the original building was a house, it had a heated kitchen and staircase at the S end, with perhaps a cross passage and a large hall. However, it is not convincing as a house plan and I wonder if it was a public building, perhaps a school. There are similarities with the 1651 Jenner's School at Cricklade and the 1668 schoolroom at the Hungerford Almshouses, Corsham. The only hint that Bradford had a school somewhere in the 17th century comes from a letter of inquiry sent in 1672 to a school in the town (K. Berry 'Bradford on Avon's Schools' page 19).
Phase 2 ~ c.1690
This is the period of the ogee-moulded mullioned windows and is likely to have been in the 1690s. The rear staircase turret was attached to the lateral hall stack and alterations were made to the roof where the stair reached the attic rooms. The front of the building was remodelled, and probably refaced, with dormers standing up from the roof. The N wall of the building was rebuilt because the old building adjoining had been demolished. The N wall was rebuilt square with the front and rear walls of the house whereas the old wall was at an angle. The NE stack to heat the parlour and the room above it were also added and the ground floor parlour was panelled.
Between 1689 and 1698 the owner Zachariah Shrapnell, a clothier, is known to have redeveloped lands in the immediate area which he probably held freehold. He is the most likely person to have carried out these alterations.
Phase3 ~ c.1750
In the second half of the 18th century the kitchen (S. room) was turned into another parlour and
the kitchen functions were probably removed to a rear wing. The panelling in the room was
perhaps brought from elsewhere in the house.
The 1924 map shows the N yard wall to be one side of a building but as it is gone it is impossible
to say when this building was added or what its function was. As there was a baker as tenant of
No. 6 from 1807-1818 he may have had a bakehouse. He was followed there by Richard
Carpenter, another baker.
The long rear wing at the S end in its present form is more likely to date from the first half of the
19th century but there may have been a building there before. It may have been rebuilt by
William Long who lived in No. 7 by 1840 and was a mason.
The N wall of the upper garden appears also to date from the late 18th century.
Phase 4 ~ c.1850
19th century. The fireplace of the central room was made smaller, probably to provide a kitchen for No. 6 when the house was divided in 1825. It is a pity that the tithe map and later maps do not show the porches as this would date them more closely. As.suggested above they may belong to the period when Henry Flicker and William Long were there.

Garden buildings
A map of 1970 shows the building in the NE corner having a glass roof at the back and a solid roof on the W side. Mrs Bancroft, a resident of No. 6 in the early 20th century, described two houses in the back garden, one a dangerous ruin and the other in reasonable condition with a room downstairs and one upstairs. The upper part of the garden has a separate number from the main house on the 1841 tithe award and access was from the lane behind. At this time and at other times in the 19th century the rate books give 4 tenants in the plot. It was probably a separate plot from before the 19th century. main house on the 1841 tithe award and access was from the lane behind. At this time and at other times in the 19th century the rate books give 4 tenants in the plot. It was probably a separate plot from before the 19th century.
Should there be a wish to date the first phase of the building more closely by tree-ring analysis, several of the roof trusses, if they are of oak, would prove suitable as they have some sapwood and bark attached.
RMSlocombe. Wiltshire Buildings Record.
Visits 28.10.2002,30.10.2002,11.11.2002,29.11.2002, and 6.1 2003
Historical information used is mainly from the research of Roger Mawby and Neil Mattingly.