THE HOUSE

In the January of 2023, dendrochronology (analysis of wood cores taken from a building) was conducted on the internal beams of the house. Less than two months later, the initial results were in. The house as we see it today, was constructed sometime in the spring of 1617, only one year after the death of the great bard, William Shakespeare!

Two of the beams date to the year 1520, during the reign of Henry 8th! It is believed that those beams originate from the footprint of an earlier house, that would have been "modernised" in the year 1617, during the reign of King James 1st. Following on from those fascinating dates leaves us open to the possibility that people have been living at the English Country House for a little over five hundred years...

 

Built during the Jacobean period, the house was originally believed to be a farm, most likely of a yeoman family, before becoming a cider/ale house during the 17th century onwards. We know this, (1) because there are records, and (2) we still have the original 17th century stone cider press (that we'd love to renovate!) and the wet cellar is geared towards storing large barrels, and finally, there's even a (now defunct) covered grille that would have led to taking drinks to the ground floor.

Roughly twenty five years after the house we see today was built, the English Civil War (War of the Three Kingdoms) broke out, and Worcestershire was at the forefront of the action, seeing both the first (Powick Bridge) and the last (Battle of Worcester) battles fought. The future Charles II fled north towards Boscobel House (to hide in the Royal Oak), and during the war itself (1643), there was a siege at nearby Hopton Castle (the subject of Timeteam episodes) where approximately thirty Parliamentarian soldiers were lured from the safety of the keep to their doom. 

nearby Hopton Castle

Further periods of development in the late 18th century saw the house have extensions and alterations, although quite how extensive they were, we don't unfortunately know. We're gradually trying to piece together the original footprint of the house, but this is proving to be painstakingly slow.

Ultimately, the house is an idyllic place to raise children and to live at a slower pace of family life, surrounded by nature. 

THE FUTURE

We have several exciting plans for the English Country House!
CHICKENS!
Spring 2024 is going to be a busy time for our (rescue battery) hens! The hen house is built, most of the names have been picked, and we can't wait to be able to provide a forever home to some very deserving hens! The appeal of fresh eggs each and every day is hard to resist too. We had planned originally to keep some form of English heritage type breed, but in all honesty, we felt that the right thing to do was to take in some rescue battery hens.

BEES!
In the coming year, (2024), we're going to be providing a home for bees! We're attending a "beekeeping for beginners" course in April, with our first swarm arriving sometime in June! We're looking forward to "beeing around bees!" (really? Ed.) and hopefully taking a small portion of their hard won fresh honey! 

SHEEP(s)!
At some point, either in 2024 or 2025 (more realistically), we intend to (re)introduce sheep to the English Country House. Having done a good bit of research, and spoken to a good few people who know their sheep and based on our needs (sheep that won't eat the orchard), we've decided upon a small flock of Shropshire sheep. We're told they're easier to look after, are relatively hardy and also won't eat our trees or orchard (a huge bonus). Being surrounded by sheep, and hearing their gentle "baahing" of a summer evening, with a gentle breeze and the open windows sounds delightful (though no doubt sheep related chaos will ensue at some point...).