Town Survey Update 1998/2001

High Street West: Sheet forty one

Building: 103: ‘The Market House’ Photo: A34

History:

This Grade II listed classical style building was probably erected as a Market Hall in 18th century, with open ground floor colonnades but refaced and much altered in 1843. It had a chequered history, the upper rooms being used about 1910 as a night school and later the ground floor was enclosed and converted for use as public toilets under lease from Knole Estates by the District Council with caretaker flat on first floor.

The District Council relinquished the lease in 1978 when it was offered to the town who were unable to take it on and it was subsequently sold to a building society. The Woolwich Building Society who restored it, removing the public toilets and opening up the bay next to the High Street to public use. It has also been known as ‘Skinners Palace’.

Knole Estates – 1843 to 1978 – Night School – c. 1910

– Public toilets – to 1978

Building Society – Woolwich Building Society – 1978 to 199 ?

Menswear Shop – 199 ? to 1999

Current Use:

103 market house high st A34

Toni & Guy

Description:

Two storey building faced with Roman cement sited at right angles to High Street under pitched roof and pedimented gable end and richly decorated with terracotta details.

Ground floor, originally probably with an open arcade subsequently filled with round-headed windows, three round-headed bays on end elevation with four round-headed bays on each side, the eastern bay nearest the High Street now open with modern shop front in timber set back on line with back of first bay.

Each arch having inner moulding, plain base and capital at springing of arch and raised tapered keystone with simple raised circular medallions between heads of each. The side bays having metal windows with bars in top halves above rendered infill and behind straight square cast iron railings on low concrete kerb.

Modern timber shop front with single pane full height display windows on each side of single glazed entrance door up slight ramp with single pane display windows splayed in on both sides.

First floor, three multi-paned metal windows with small pivot opening near top on each window, the windows to side being over three rear bays with solid panelled window openings over newly opened front bay. Elevation enriched by decorative terracotta ornamentation in raised string course at cill level, in shallow plain pilasters that flank windows and in frieze below modillioned cornice above plain rendered string course.

Roof, plain tiled with moulded cornice to pedimented gable end decorated with terracotta and rendered enclosure to single oval window in centre under celebratory clock.

Comment:

A building of very great townscape importance being at a critical point in the centre of the High Street and with very find terracotta panels. Essential that it should be kept well maintained and free from intrusive and unsympathetic clutter and elements such as road signs, meter boxes, etc.

Importance: A

Not included in previous survey.