Survey of London: Volume 1, Bromley-By-Bow. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1900.
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XIV.—"SEVEN STARS" PUBLIC-HOUSE.
Ground Landlord, Leaseholders, &c.
General description and date of structure.
In plan the building is roughly of a T-shape, the oldest part being that portion corresponding with the transverse bar of the letter, which adjoins the High-street. It is about fifty-three feet in length and eighteen in width. The walls are entirely of timber construction, the lower walls standing on a basement of red bricks, the upper storey overhanding on the north side, and gabled at the east and west ends. In date it evidently belongs to the very early part of the 17th century, the same date as the Old Palace, as there are moulded beams, mullions, &c., of the same character as in the Old Palace. The remaining portions of the building, which are contained in the stem of the T, are of various materials, mostly red bricks, and of later dates, and extend from the south side of the house to the north wall of the Old Palace.
Structurally, the older part of the house is of considerable interest. The walls consist of large oak beams, nearly a foot square, framed together and tenoned into each other, and placed vertically at intervals of about eight feet; in the intervening spaces are smaller upright studs, also of oak, from four to six inches in width, tenoned into the larger beams. The upper storey overhangs the lower on the north side about two feet; this lower storey rests on a foundation of bricks carried up about two feet above the ground level.
The filling in between the timbers in the external walls was done in the manner usual at the period—i.e., the spaces were lathed with stout oak laths, and plastered on the outside. At the back of the laths was placed a layer of clay, mixed with chopped straw, about 1½ inches thick; this again was plastered on the inside. The timber framing was therefore visible both on the outside and inside of the building, and still remains so in the upper rooms. The lower rooms have been again lathed on the inside at some later period, and plastered so as to bring the walls to an even surface.
The whole of the timber construction of the ground storey is also left intact. At the north-east corner and in the centre of the north side are the two original entrance doorways. Both have large oak door-posts, each about a foot square, which are ovolo-moulded on the outer edges down to the level of the brick plinth. The transomes also are well moulded, and are similar in design to those of the original wood mullioned windows of the Old Palace adjoining.
A noticeable thing about the large brick chimney stacks also is that they are carried up inside the house, adjoining the timber walls, but entirely independent of them, they are, therefore, not visible from the outside. The fireplace openings on the ground floor are about 7 feet 6 inches in width, and have proportionately large flues. That in the taproom was doubtless the old kitchen fireplace, and has not been reduced in width. The other has been blocked up to about one-third of its original size. Between these fireplaces are the stairs, winding round a central newel; on the staircase in one of the original oak window frames, with moulded mullions.
At some time towards the end of the last century the whole of the exterior walls were covered with weather boarding, thus totally hiding and destroying the effect of the original timber framing; the wood mullioned windows were also replaced by sash windows. The houses adjoining on the west side, facing High-street, which are in date and construction similar to the "Seven Stars," were also treated in the same manner.
Condition of repair.
Nothing definite is known as to the actual date of the building, although, according to local tradition
it is several centuries old. It is stated that by means of a deed, or record on vellum, now preserved at
the "Ship Inn," Rochford, Essex, by a former proprietor of the "Seven Stars," it is possible to trace it
back certainly for 300 years, and that it was at that period used as a Freemasons' lodge.
There is also another local tradition, which seems reasonable, that this house, together with those adjoining on the west side, and extending to Edgar-road (Nos. 62 to 90), were built in 1606 at the same time as the Old Palace, for the servants' and retainers' dwellings, domestic offices and outhouses.
The "Seven Stars" is now (September, 1895) being pulled down to make room for a larger building but the adjoining houses are for the most part still intact.
J. Dunstan, History of Bromley, 1862, mentions the house, and gives a view of the Broadway in the
year 1840, where it is shown. See also pages 14, 22.
Ernest Godman (The Old Palace of Bromley-by-Bow, 1900), where further illustrations and plans are given, showing more fully the relation of the "Seven Stars" and houses adjoining to the Old Palace.
In the Committee's MS. collection are—
(1.) Ground plan of the house.
(2.) Interior view, first floor, during demolition.
(3.) Views of the exterior from High-street and St. Leonard's-street.
(4.) View of the backs of all the houses facing the High-street and adjoining the Old Palace.
(5.) Plan of this and the adjoining houses in High-street, showing their relation to the Old Palace.