Friday, 15 May 2009

The House That Moved

GB has blogged about people moving house in New Zealand on a couple of occasions. This is another house that moved. The House That Moved, looks like it has always been in its present position and is a favourite on the tourist itinerary.

Once known as Merchant House, it was in the way of a new road being built in Exeter in 1961 and was scheduled for demolition. It dated from about 1500, although some thought it may be as old as 14th century. It was certainly one of the oldest surviving houses in Exeter. In a poor state of repair, it didn't seem that important a loss to some people but with pressure from archaeologists, it was 'listed' just in time, as an important building of architectural and historic significance, and the demolition was halted. Exeter City Council, with help from the government decided to spend £10,000 to have the house moved out of the way of the new road.

A London company was contracted to move the house about 100 yards from its site on the corner of Edmund Street and Frog Street to a new position by the old West Gate. It took several weeks to prepare the house for the move - the timber framework of the house was criss-crossed with strengthening timbers and iron wheels placed at each corner attached to hydraulic jacks. No iron bolts, screws or supports were used against the original timbers, to prevent damage. The structure was top heavy, so during the move, the jacks would be used to ensure that it was always kept upright, with frequent checks made using spirit levels. During the move a mouse was seen wandering about in the timbers!

After its move it was occupied by an antique dealer, then a gem dealer and now it is a wedding dress shop. It has a rear kitchen, a first floor hall, or principal living room and on the top floor was the solar, or principal bedroom.

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