The Manor & Grounds » The house through the Centuries
The shabby farmhouse that was bought in 1914 was smaller than the house that Lawrence Washington built.
The parts which remain of his house are to the south, the porch and screens passage and the Great Hall on the ground floor, the Great Chamber and two smaller rooms above. Today there is a west wing, containing the Director's quarters, constructed at the restoration completed in 1929. The frontage in Tudor times was considerably wider than it is today. The porch was, as now, central. To the west was the kitchen and buttery, to the east the Great Chamber and more. It is not now possible to tell how far the house extended in either direction, but in 1920 a huge boulder, which could have been a foundation stone, was dug up about fifty feet to the west of the present house, and others were found in a line with the existing frontage. Moreover, the present exterior wall at the east end of the Tudor building will be seen to have been an inside wall. A Tudor pattern fireplace shows itself at first floor level, with, above it, the projecting oak purlins, sawn through between 1700 and 1780 at the time when parts of the house, for reasons unknown, were pulled down. Parts of the Tudor house, which Robert, the builder's son, had enlarged, had already been destroyed by 1700, when John Hodges built the north wing which runs at right angles to the Tudor portion and contains at ground level the Oak Parlour and Great Kitchen and, above, the Chintz and White Bedrooms.
The local limestone of which the house is built is not dissimilar from that of the Cotswold country. The roofs are both stone-tiled, the pitch of the Tudor roof being steeper than that of the north wing. The Elizabethan red-brick chimney stacks are characteristically set at an angle, in contrast with the Queen Anne chimney stacks of solid stone with a projecting base.
The south porch showing the intriguing armorials essayed
in pargiting - probably a typical Tudor "pun" by
Lawrence Washington, his second wife's maiden
name being Pargiter!
Above the arms, near the gable, is a triangular device with small birds on either side; and the plasterer, covertly illustrating the source of his own wages, added on the left a lop-eared sheep with falling collar and on the right a lamb wearing an Elizabethan ruff. The sheep, the lamb and the birds have tiny pieces of charcoal for their eyes.
In the spandrels of the doorway were carved the arms of the builder's family, three mullets (stars) and two bars (stripes); not unnaturally, it has been held that here is the origin of the design of the American flag. The arms are to be seen quite clearly in the right-hand spandrel. Those in the left were 'differenced' by a crescent beneath the bars, indicating descent from a second son (the builders grandfather was the second son ' of Robert Washington of Warton), but they have long been indecipherable.
Between the royal arms and the doorway is another representation, in plaster, of the Washington arms, quite modern, and replacing some device the nature of which had become unknown by the eighteenth century. The north courtyard, formed by the Tudor and Queen Anne wings and the gabled end of a building used formerly as a brewhouse and a barn, contains three stone doorways, one leading into the kitchen, one into the Great Hall and one in the south east corner.