Saunders, No 50 St.Peter's Street
During February this year (1987), a small team of M.S.C. workers under the supervision of Alan Ward conducted a small excavation at the rear of No. 50 St Peter's Street.
Prior to commencement of the excavation the yard area had been cleared and partially reduced in level by the owner of the property, Mr Neil Mattingly. These initial works exposed a number of brick walls, a brick-lined well, the foundations of a brick bread oven and remnants of a substantial flint wall. The Trust was commissioned to complete the clearance of the yard area and evaluate the importance of the exposed features.
The brick walls exposed at the rear of 'Saunders' proved to be parts of a narrow north-south range and a separate structure situated east of the range at its northern end. Both buildings were originally erected against the rear of the existing property and are shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map for 1874. West of the rear extensions was a cobbled yard. A brick built dome-topped well, located in the yard was probably contemporary with the outbuildings. At the northern end of the north-south range and contained within it was a large bread oven constructed in late eighteenth century brickwork. The two brick built structures were parts of a large bakehouse which, together with the southernmost bay of the main building shown on the 1874 survey were destroyed by an incendiary bomb in the Second World War.
Underlying these levels were deposits consistent with the demolition of a previous building. The demolition horizon was left intact but the earlier levels were recorded in the sides of disturbances, mainly shallow pits cutting through the demolition levels. The principal early feature was a large masonry wall which extended across the width of the property block. The wall projected above the demolition horizon and was rendered with plaster on both sides. Clay floors undoubtedly associated with the wall were observed in the sides of the later pits. The uppermost clay deposit may have been the basis of a tiled floor. This deposit capped a sequence of laminated beaten earth and clay floors. Mr Mattingly recovered a complete fleur-de-lys decorated tile during his ground works. The tile, of local manufacture (Tyler Hill), dating from the second half of the thirteenth century may be residue from a decorated tile pavement associated with this early building. Traces of clay floors were also located south of the flint wall, indicating that the early building extended over a much greater area of the property block than the later brick built structures.
The flint wall which was probably built to support a timber-framed structure, appears on the basis of its construction, to be of thirteenth century date. The sequence of clay floors observed north and south of the wall, and particularly the possible existence of a tiled pavement, indicates a structure of some importance. The wall and attendant floors are set well back in property block, in an area normally associated with service buildings, usually detached kitchens. A tiled floor would not consistent with use as a service room, but until further excavation takes place, this anomaly cannot be accounted for.
Whatever function the rooms performed, the area at the rear of No. 50 St Peter's Street is of undoubted interest and further works will certainly take place if Mr Mattingly carries through scheme to extend the present premises into the back yard area.
Our thanks are extended to Mr Mattingly not only for financing the excavation work, but for the painstaking documentary research he is undertaking in the St. Peter's Street area.