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  Churche's Mansion
  150 Hospital Street
  CW5 5RY
  United Kingdom

Enjoy a tour inside Tudor Churche's Mansion

Step back almost 440 years to Elizabethan times, and enjoy the wealth of history at Churche's Mansion -
oak floor boards, oak panelled walls, exposed oak beams and many fine architectural details -
all original to when the house was built in 1577

Walk down the front path and step through the solid oak doorway into the entrance vestibule:


Either side of the inner oak doorway are original corbels with gilt carvings of Richard and Margerye Churche (Richard shown here):


Look straight up, above your head, and you will see the fine panelled ceiling, each panel inlaid with a six-pointed star.
Formed from two overlapping triangles, with their sides weaving under and over each other, this was a Masonic symbol.

Back in Tudor times, symbols and figures held great importance and meaning.
Theses stars would have represented power and protection for the Mansion, and those who lived in it.
The siting of the panelling directly overhead as people enter the building is highly significant (as we shall learn more of later).


Let's have an overview of the ground floor layout, with the old room names:


We first step into the large Central Room, which would have been called the Dining Hall or Great Hall.

Back in Tudor times the word "great" simply meant large, and it did not have the modern connotations of excellence.


This would have been a multi-functional room, used for dining, but also where guests would have been received. As Richard Churche was a merchant it was very likely that he conducted business here. Overnight some of the servants would have slept on the floor.


The majority of the rooms in the Mansion, including this one, have original Wainscot oak panelling.
Wainscot was a superior quality of riven oak, used for fine panel work, made with timber mainly from the Baltic States.
This was favoured over home grown oak, as it produced boards that were well grained, not liable to warp, and free of knots.

Notice the little arch patterns at the top of the walls - this form of decoration is called nulling or arcading.


Let's have a closer look at the recessed area with raised platfrom, on the far side of the room in the photo above.

This may have been where Richard and Margarye dined, over-looking the dining area for the rest of the family and servants.


The mural on the left wall depicts a dining scene, with Richard and Margerye seated here at the top table.
The panel on the left shows the working kitchen, and on the right the children are being brought down the spiral staircase.

Details of restoration work done, and cost incurred, are recorded on the wall behind.


The mural, and the stained glass windows below were done to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building in 1977.
The centre window shows the Churche Coat of Arms.

The left window shows the initials of Richard and Margerye Churche entwined in a love knot. (We will see this again upstairs).
The initials shown in the pane on the right are of the owners in 1977, when the Mansion was an award winning restaurant.


The 400 year celebrations were a big event in the town. The Mansion's owners specially commissioned a production of commemorative slipware dishes from Gladstone pottery in Stoke-on-Trent:


And even had a limited edition series of numbered and hallmarked gold and silver coins specially struck for the occassion:


Next we go into the Long Oak Panelled Room or Long Withdrawing Room, which runs the full depth of the house.

Notice the beautiful oak floor boards, and floor to ceiling oak panelling.


There is exceptionally fine Elizabethan carving throughout this room, shown here in the over mantle, and columns flanking the fireplace.


The finely carved bases of the same columns are visible here, in a similar view, photographed in a different era.


Now we head into the Timber Framed Front Room which would have been The Buttery in Tudor times.

The name buttery comes from butt, the early word for barrel. This was a service room, filled with dried goods (many which would have been stored in barrels or casks) to supply the kitchen. And with barrels of alcoholic drink (mead, beer and wine) to supply the Great Hall.

The household officer in charge of the buttery was called the butler.

This room features exposed timber-frame walls, and oak floor boards. Also noticed the large oak beam at the bottom of the doorway into the Great Hall (bottom left of photo). This beam is called a threshold, and they rarely survive. This beam was the origin of the expression, and tradition, of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold.


Here is the scene from when the Mansion was a busy, popular restaurant:


And here is a view of the full-height exposed-brick open fireplace seen on the right of the photo above, and still in regular use today.


Next we move into the Kitchen with a very impressive large inset exposed-brick Inglenook fireplace, exposed timber frame walls, and tiled floor.


A striking feature is the massive oak mantle beam, 17 inches by 14, and almost 11 feet long.


Still functional, but rarely used today, the kitchen fire would have been going constantly.

As seen here, at times the cooks would have sat on benches or settles either side of the fire. It has have been hot work.


Next, let's head up the spiral staircase:

Click here to continue the tour upstairs

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