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Fitznell's,Chessington Road, Ewell: III

1989/2 pp3-4


Fitznells, Chessington Road, Ewell: III


At the end of the eighteenth century the house was subjected to a major refurbishment and internal reorganisation. In spite of the extensive works at this time there does not appear to have been an increase in the number of fireplaces. This leaves a house with well-provided accommodation but no heated rooms suitable as sitting or dining rooms. It is possible that stacks existed beyond the south walls, where the nineteenth-century block now stands, but were completely destroyed when it was built. The wooden fire surround at the south end of Phase I at first floor is of this period though it is now fitted onto a Victorian stack.


The east wall of the original building was battened out to make it vertical and the whole of the timber framing rendered over. A new principal entrance was created into the northern bay of Phase I which was now divided into two at ground floor. The neat door case with its flat head and scroll brackets remains, but the guttae (small dovetails at the base of the brackets) have been lost. This door case has many similarities with the one at 2 Church Street, Ewell, which is of similar date. On the west facade new casement windows were fitted into the place of the originals and similar windows were provided on the east side. The present window at first floor on the east side of Phase II is modern, and the ones at the south end were replaced in the next Phase. Certain of the ground floor windows have security bars fitted, probably denoting that they were used for the storage of farm produce.


A small single-story lean-to was constructed at the north end of Phase II and the original end wall removed. About 1m east of the original west wall of Phase II a new division was made on a north-south axis, and the remaining area of this Phase divided in half. The northern part plus the extension had the floor lowered by about 0.6m to form a dairy lit by the low bowed window on the east wall. A cellar was excavated under the remaining area, with brick arched racks built against its west wall. Owing to the high water table the floor of the room over the cellar had its floor raised by 0.4m to provide adequate head room. In spite of this there has been about 200mm of water covering the cellar floor as long as anyone can remember. The room over the cellar was divided from the dairy by a slatted partition indicating unity of use. As the window is also barred and shaded by an old yew tree it is believed to have been a cheese room, which is where cheeses were kept until maturity. At this time the window tax allowed exemption to rooms used for this purpose, providing they were unglazed and marked denoting their use. Unfortunately no such markings have been discovered.


To the south of the cheese room was the entrance hall, with a new main stairway to the first floor. The window to this room was provided with an internal shutter that slid vertically up over the windows and, when in the lowered position, goes below floor level. A further access to the first floor is by means of a stair ladder by the door to the cheese room and going up over the dairy. This would have been for the farm staff to get to their sleeping quarters at this end of the house. the windows on the ground floor at the west side of the house had horizontally sliding shutters of unequal width owing to the fitting of the interior. A corner cupboard was built in the northwest corner of the northern room of Phase III and the roof to the south of this had the old front door (now the back door) at its northern end. A passage was created at this time to the back door and returning along the east side of the room by the erection of simple pine panelling. The resulting room was almost half the size it was previously which, as one of the only three fireplaces was in it, must have been somewhat inconvenient. A fitted cupboard and a large kitchen dresser (both relocated) in this area date from this time.


At first floor a new partition was erected to form a landing at the top of the main stairs incorporating two panel doors comparable to the partitioning at ground floor. One further matching door remains serving the room to the west of the stairs. A sequence of late eighteenth or early nineteenth century wallpapers have been noted on the west wall of the former solar, indicating a fairly good quality of finish in this location over this period.

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