173, High Street, Berkhamsted

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    173 High Street, one of several buildings in Berkhamsted that have medieval origins; it is the oldest jettied timber building in the United Kingdom

    173, High Street, Berkhamsted, is a medieval building in Hertfordshire, England. It is considered to be the oldest extant jettied timber framed building in Great Britain, dated by dendrochronology of structural timbers to between 1277 and 1297.[1] At the time of the building's construction, the town of Berkhamsted was a relatively large, flourishing wool trading market town that benefitted from having an important royal castle.[2][3]


    The building was given a Victorian facade and was used as a pharmacy in the nineteenth century. Its historical significance was not recognised until 2001 when it was Grade II* listed after the medieval timber framing was exposed during renovation work. It is currently used as an estate agent's.

    The building received two grants from English Heritage, one for investigations and one for conservation work.[4] Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said "This is an amazing discovery. It gives an extraordinary insight into how Berkhamsted High Street would have looked in medieval times."[5]

    Initially, the investigations suggested that it had always been a shop, as there was evidence for the existence of a jeweller or goldsmith's shop with a workshop behind. This generated headlines to the effect that the country's "oldest shop" had been discovered.[5][6] The age of the building would make it a contender for the title,[7] but there is doubt about how long it served as a shop. It is now believed to have originally been a jettied service wing to a larger aisled hall house, which has since disappeared.[8]

    See also


    1. ^ Historic England. "173 High Street, Berkhamsted (1246942)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
    2. ^ Slater & Goose 2008, pp. 56, 240–241.
    3. ^ Thompson & Bryant 2005, p. 9.
    4. ^ "173 High Street, Berkhamsted". www.engineering-timelines.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
    5. ^ a b "Restoration boost for oldest shop". BBC News. 26 February 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
    6. ^ Kennedy, Maev (27 February 2003). "Victorian facade hides the oldest shop in England". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
    7. ^ Other claimants for the title of oldest shop appear to be of more recent construction: "England's oldest shop seeks new proprietor". The Guardian. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
    8. ^ Semmelmann, Karin (2004). "343-351 HIGH STREET (Desk based assessment)" (PDF). The Heritage Network Ltd.


    • Slater, T.R.; Goose, Nigel (2008). A county of small towns: the development of Hertfordshire's urban landscape to 1800. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press. ISBN 978-190531344-0.154.40 167.26
    • Thompson, Isobel; Bryant, Stewart (2005). Extensive Urban Surveys: Berkhamsted, Revision 2005 (PDF) (Report). Historic Environment Unit, Hertfordshire County Council.

    Coordinates: 51°45′37″N 0°33′53″W / 51.760268°N 0.564611°W / 51.760268; -0.564611