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32 Friarn Street Bridgwater Somerset TA6 3LH

An Ancient House

stairview.jpg - 196Kb
Closed-string, open-well. Inserted; riven lath partitions cut through earlier reed & lime plaster structures.
Treads & risers elm, but overlaid treads twice with pine, such that edge of tread projects beyond string. [Probably resulting from industrial use as York & Son lantern slide factory 1880 onwards.] Top flight still elm single tread & riser.
Pine string, with single applied moulding.
The well is illuminated by inserted small pane lights (set in thick astragals) to both of the flanking walls. Many panes are of crown glass, showing extensive swirl marks. One framed light is set in an earlier oak(?) frame with remains of a central mullion and pockets for two wooden vertical glazing rods.
newel.jpg - 122Kb
Oak newels, plain 2"x2", with applied oversize oak circular caps (flattened acorn) (absent on attic newel).The newels project above the rails by ca. 3"
balusters.jpg - 52Kb
Balusters turned oak square base prob. ex 2"x2". Tapered similar to the form
of Hall (Fixtures etc CBA No 11) p 2: 1665 Sussex 1676 Lancs; p3 1722
Gloucs, though differing in detail. The balusters are set in a 2"x1" batten
(appears to be pine)? applied to the pine string, and surmounted by an
oak rail, square in section (2"x2"), embellished with two scratch-moulded
ovolo beads.
pendant.jpg - 43Kb
Same cap applied as pendant to lower newels; two second floor newels with applied tetrahedral pendants in pine. under.jpg - 72Kb
There is much re-used timber in the exposed underside of the lower parts of
the stair.

The staircase has been overpainted several times. The earliest is a very fine, uniform dark red-brown ochre, seen elsewhere on oak in the house (e.g. cross-windows, rear doorframe). The paint can be removed by scraping alone. It falls off in small flakes which generally include all layers except the first. The first (red) coat can be removed by gentle abrasion with 000 steel wool and spirit nitromors. There is evidence that the underlying oak may have been waxed previously. The timber is yellow, not bleached.

Documentary evidence suggests Joseph Greenway (Merchant, 1711) may have
caused significant alterations to the pre-existing house. However, an
earlier phase of refurbishment is likely to have occurred during the long
leasehold of the Glasse family (1604 - 1671). Glasse survived the Civil War
a rich man.

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23 June 2004