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54 High Street

Fig.1 – 54 High Street in the 19th Century

Fig.1 – 54 High Street in the 19th Century

This one-time fine town house, standing in a prime  position at the comer of High Street and North Street (Figs. 1, 2 and 3), was built about 1680, probably for a surgeon, James Hodges, and later acquired by Thomas Apsley, a linen draper, and a member of a well-known prosperous Ashford family. In its day, it must have been the most fashionable house in the town. At some time, shop windows were put into the High Street front; a 19th-century engraving shows an elegant shop with Ionic pillars (Fig. 1).

External Features:

Fig. 2 – Comparative plans 1871 and 1986

In spite of the masonry-like appearance of its walls, it is a timber-framed building and stands on a plot approximately 40 ft. by 16 ft. The stuccoed walls are grooved to look like masonry. The roof is tiled and there are three hipped dormer windows to light the attics. The fronts of North Street and High Street have been vandalised by fascia signs out of all  proportion and character. Chapel Mews At eaves level, there are ornamental carved modillions or brackets of classical design and mouldings with egg and tongue enrichment. The North Street front has a heavy overhanging half- hipped roof with a short sloping tiled section at its Mm!” base—a rather strange piece of construction. An off-set bay window looks up the High Street from the fine drawing room with its decorative cornice inside.

The North Street Extension:

Fig. 3 – Section

It is rather difficult to give an exact date for when this took place. It was probably right at the end of the 17th century, or possibly when James Hodges the surgeon died in 1703. The building has an extra  storey, so that its hipped roof overhangs No. 54 High Street The imitation masonry was continued, but the modillions to the eaves are smaller and quite plain. At the rear, completely obscured from the street, the roof has four small hipped gables. As these give a good light from the east, these may have lighted workrooms (Fig. 3).

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

List Entry on Historic England

List entry Number: 1184522

Grade: II

  1. 5344 HIGH STREET (North Side) No 54 TR 0142 NW 1/22 24.9.51. II GV
  2. An early C18 house. 2 storeys and attics stuccoed and grooved in imitation of masonry. Tiled roof with 3 hipped dormers. The High Street front has widely over- hanging eaves with a row of voluted brackets and egg and dart moulding below these. The North Street front has an ordinary modillion eaves cornice and half-hipped gable. 4 sashes and 1 casement facing High Street. 2 sashes and 2 later bays to the 1st floor of the North Street front. Later shop fronts.

Nos 34 to 54 (even) form a group. Nos 34 to 44 (even) are of local interest.

Listing NGR: TR0105242819