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104 High Street

This property was refurbished in 1983 and our survey relates to that time, but various alterations were later carried out.

This was a double-pile house, i.e. with two parallel roofs. This method has the disadvantage of presenting the builder with the problem of coping with the water collecting in the valley between the roofs, often leading to leaks. But as the rear roof was slightly lower than the front one, a previous owner had sought to overcome the problem, and at the same time providing some heat conservation, by putting a roof between the two ridges. From the historian’s point of view this was an asset, as will be seen later

The High Street range is 16th century with a 19th- century brick front, plastered and painted, with a bay- window. Inside, the first-floor has a similarity to the previously discussed building at 96-98 High Street. The west wall has built into it a cambered tie-beam but lacks a crown—post (Fig. 1). So once again this house had at one time an open hall with a ceiling inserted in the 17th century. On the ground-floor, the west wall is roughly constructed of panelling with brick rubble infilling. This shows that No. 104 and No. 106 comprised one property, a fact was confirmed by an inspection of the roof timbers. The latter also suggest that No. 106 was a cross-wing (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 – West wall and section

No. 106 was occupied from 1863, until its demolition, by the Knowles family of house furnishers, who in the early days of the business, lived over the shop. During the 100 years or so that the firm owned the premises, many alterations were made and we have no details of its construction.

We have mentioned above that the two roof ridges had been covered over. When the writer inspected the premises in 1983, this covering was in place, and it had successfully preserved two large north-facing dormers complete with tiled roofs. There was some evidence of a third dormer. Two small donners faced the High Street, sufficient to light the attics, so why were the north-facing ones built? Were the attics used for some commercial process requiring a north light?

Fig. 2 – Isometric sketch

Another strange feature of the premises was a lightly-constructed framework marked X on the drawing (Fig. 2). It had the similarity to the smoke- hoods of earlier times, a device for carrying away smoke from an open or semi-open fire, before the days of proper chimney flues. The position did not appear to confirm such a theory.

These premises repeat the pattern of No. 52 in Lower High Street. A house was built in the garden, later this was abandoned and a covered way erected between the house and the front shop.

Historical Note: In the 18th century the premises were tenanted by a baker. There was a bakehouse and a granary. The man, named Matson, also had the mill at Bybrook.

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