Wednesday, 9 October 2013


We have some very fine buildings in this country.  There are some curious buildings, some that are not quite what they seem to be and others with a story to tell. This blog reveals all :



The smallest house

Conwy in North Wales lays claim to having the smallest house in Great Britain.  Situated on the Quay on the riverside of this interesting town, the former fisherman’s cottage measures just 72 inches wide and 122 inches high, and was occupied until 1900.  The last person to live there is said to have been fisherman Robert Jones who was 6ft 3ins tall, and before him it was occupied by an elderly couple.  It must have been a struggle for one person, never mind two, to live in this tiny one up and one down dwelling, which is now a tourist attraction



The Old Bridge House


Another curious tiny building is to be found in Ambleside in Cumbria, built on a stone arch spanning Stock Beck, it is known as The Old Bridge House.   This charming early 16th century structure was originally built as a summer house for Ambleside Hall, but subsequently became a dwellinghouse.   In the mid 19th century, Charity Rigg, his wife and six children are said to have lived in this tiny one up and one down house.   To get from the tiny downstairs room with its little fireplace, they had to go outside where stone steps lead to the equally tiny upper room.

This building is now in the care of the National Trust.




The smallest stately home


What is claimed to be Britain’s smallest stately home can be seen alongside the A170 at Ebberston near Scarborough in North Yorkshire.  Ebberston Hall was built in Palladian style in 1718 for the then Scarborough M.P, William Thompson, and has just eleven rooms in all.   The main entrance is made particularly impressive by the sweeping flight of steps leading up to the grand classically treated doorway, giving access to the grandeur of this miniature mansion.   Two small lodges, originally on either side of the house were demolished in the 19th century.

The present owners are struggling to maintain and restore this unique house, which is open to the public in the summer months.


The Ugly House

The Ty Hyll, or Ugly House, is situated a few miles west of Betwys-y-Coed in the Snowdonia National Park of North Wales.  It is a Ty Yn Y Nos or house of the night!  Apparently in the 15th century, when this house was built, anybody who could build a rough house overnight and have smoke coming out of the chimney by dawn, was able to claim the land freehold.   Furthermore, the boundary of his land could be established by the distance one could throw an axe from the four corners of the building.   According to legend, the Ugly House was so built by two brothers.   The house would originally have had a roof of heather thatch, eventually being replaced by slates as seen today.
Towards the end of the 19th century the house had become derelict but was made habitable by a man called Riley, and he lived there with his wife until the 1960’s when they died, and once again the cottage fell into disrepair.   In 1988 it was bought by the Snowdonia National Park Society who restored it and it is now open to the public.

The Image House
A small cottage on the roadside of the A49 near to its junction with the turn to Bunbury in Cheshire,  now a listed building, has a similar history.  The only apparent curiosity about this building are the strange images which adorn its façade, but it is also in fact a ‘house of the night‘.   The story goes that back in the 19th century, a man called Vicars was convicted of poaching and was transported to Australia.   Apparently he found his way back to Bunbury where he built the cottage overnight and had smoke coming out of the chimney by dawn, which gave him the right to the freehold of the land.  It is said that he put the images on the façade as a curse on the people who had denigrated him.
The Star Hotel

The Star Hotel in the High Street at Moffat in the Scottish Borders dates to the late 1700’s. This old inn, only 20 feet wide and 162 feet long, is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as being the world’s narrowest hotel.

The Coffin House
This coffin shaped house in King Street, Brixham in Devon has a story to tell. It is said that a man disapproved of his daughter's impending marriage and said that he would see her in a coffin before he would agree to her proposed marriage. Her suitor bought this house, called it Coffin House and told the father that his wishes could be met. The father was impressed and gave his consent to the marriage.


The Star Hotel

The Star Hotel in the High Street at Moffat in the Scottish Borders dates to the late 1700’s. This old inn, only 20 feet wide and 162 feet long, is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as being the world’s narrowest hotel.


The Huer's Hut

The Huer’s Hut is a small white Grade 11 listed building on a headland above the harbour at Newquay in Cornwall.
A plaque near the building tells us :
‘This building thought to date from the 14th c. was used as a
look-out by a Huer at the time of year when shoals of pilchards
were expected in the bay. A call on his horn raised the hue and
cry and alerted the townsfolk to the arrival of the fish. By means
of hand signals the Huer enabled the fishermen to position their
boats and encircle the shoal with their nets.
Prior to its use by the Huer this hut may have been a
Hermitage. The hermit possibly being the person entrusted with
the lighting of the beacon fire for the guidance of shipping.
Externally this building has a large typically Cornish late
medieval chimney and a narrow stairway leading to the roof.
There are two windows with drip moulds one of which (now
blocked) has a mullion visible from the inside. Here too, can be seen
an early fireplace altered in the 19th c. possibly during the
Restoration of 1836.'


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