Your House and Mine


Map of Frieth
Moor End
   Merrydown Cottage
   Corner Cottage
   Moor's End Cottages
   Moor Gate House
   The Copse
Fingest Road
   The Forge
   Folly Cottages
   The Willows
Perrin Springs Lane
   Perrin Springs
   West's Cottages
Ellery Rise
   Lynden Cottage
Frieth Hill
   Hillside Cottage
   Pear Tree Cottage
   Hillside View
   The Platt
   Little Barlows
   Cutlers Cottage
   Yew Tree Cottage
   Little Cottage
   Birch Cottage
   Tedders / Rose Cottage
   The Old Stores
   The Yew Tree Inn
   Fairfield House
   Flint Cottage 1
   Flint Cottage 2
   Middle Cottage
   Sunny Corner
   The Gables
   The Orchards
   The Old Parsonage
   White Gates
   The Laurels
   The Cottage
   The Firm
   The Niche
   The Ranch House
   Sara's Cottage
   The Cherries
   The Old School House
Innings Road
   Collier's Farm
   Innings Gate
   Down the Lane
   Sunset Cottage
   Rowan Cottage
   Creighton Cottage
   Apple Tree
   Old Well Cottage
   The Cottage
   Flat Roof
   Red Kites
Spurgrove Lane
   Maidencraft Cottage
   September Cottage
   Spurgrove Cottage
   Gable End
   Elder Barn
Barlows, Frieth, 1969 - From Joan Barksfield's collection

Barlows is named after the family that lived there for at least four hundred years and probably longer. The name can be traced back in the Hambleden Parish registers, with certainty, to a Richard Barlow who married Anne Keyley in 1609. At that time a family named Keyley lived at the property opposite, at what is now the Yew Tree Inn. The name Barlow first appears in the Registers in 1592 when Edward Barlow had a daughter Margerie. These Registers only began in 1580 so probably the Barlows had lived here in early Tudor times.

The house itself is part mediaeval, this was established by an examination of the construction of the roof timbers in the main room at the front. This portion was a mediaeval Hall House. The smaller room behind this one was an Elizabethan addition as the large open fireplace in the front room would have been. Later the facade was faced with flint and brick possibly when the small room at the front was added. The brick and flint wall in front of the house is dated 1753.

During the 19th century and until 1925 Barlows was a beer house  called "The Royal Oak". The last two Barlows to live there were sisters named Sarah and Ellen, on the death of the latter the property was left to the Ecclesiastical Commission "For the stipend of a curate of Frieth", with the proviso that the house should be called "Barlows" forever.

[ The censuses tell us: 1871 Alice Barlow, 76, Innkeeper at "The Royal Oak"; 1881 Alice Barlow, 84, "Landlady of Beer House" at "The Squirrel"; 1891 no head of household is shown, Sarah Barlow, 38, is shown as "Sister" at "The Oak"; 1901 Edmund J Barlow, 54, "Publican"; 1911 Sarah Barlow, 57, "Innkeeper". So pubs changed their names then too ]

A study of the Barlow family tree tells an interesting story (See "Frieth a Chiltern Village" for further information)

There have been six owners of Barlows since 1925 [up to 2001] who have extended the house to the rear and on either side.

[ The following has very kindly been contributed by Dianne Duggan whose daughter now lives at Barlows.

A brief report of work recently done to the old house, throwing new light on its architectural history:

Barlows was a public house called The Royal Oak until the last spinster landlady, Ellen Barlow, died in 1928. A chart of the history of the Barlows’ family hangs in the house; Sarah Barlows’ bible also stays with the house. The Barlows family may have lived in the house from the late 16th century, and there is a record of a Richard Barlow owning the house around the mid seventeenth-century. In the street wall there is the date 1753, marked out in brick, possibly commemorating another Richard’s son who was born that year. The present brick date, however, was re-done in the 1990s along with much re-building of the old wall. 

Ellen left the property to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but they then sold the house to a Mr A.G.R. McKenzie, F.R.I.B.A., an architect who carried out extensive changes, and additions, to the house around 1929, including the exposing of many of the ancient timbers in the house which had apparently previously been plastered over (according to an account of his works in a local newspaper article from 1929). The house was originally a half-timbered 16th century structure (possibly with an earlier medieval part), but was encased with a brick and flint exterior, probably in the 18th century. This may have been for structural purposes, but houses were often ‘upgraded’ in those times in order to add social status as the family prospered. This may have been when the oak half-timbering was also covered up with the more ‘sophisticated’ plaster. 

In 1929 Mr McKenzie joined the Victorian barn and stable at the rear to the front cottage with the present hallway. The old original brick and flint plinth base of the cottage’s original exterior wall has been now exposed in the hallway. Bedroom 3 downstairs was possibly previously a washhouse, by evidence of the crude chimney (for a copper?) in the corner of the roof area. There are tales of an archway to the rear being used as an entrance to a sheltered rest area for packhorses of customers of the inn – possibly the archway which can be seen from the outside of the house, and now part of the Drawing Room. At this time, when McKenzie built the linking hallway, the solid bases in the old cottage, the hallway, and the small room opposite the present shower room (the small room then used as the bathroom, the first ever in the house) must have been laid, and over-laid with a mixture of a few old flags, and old and modern quarry (1920s) tiles, set in a rough screed (a ‘newish’ 1929 coin was found under one of the floor tiles in the centre of the Sitting Room). The interior/exterior surviving plumbing for the first bathroom was identified by a plumber as ‘between the wars’ installations. A redundant water pipe, no doubt also from this time, was recently found ‘disappearing’ from the outside of the house into the solid floor of the hallway heading towards the (present) dining room and the old kitchen.  

Mr McKenzie was apparently responsible for moving the narrow original staircase, replacing it with the wider one in its present location (this is indicated as it is firmly set in a deep concrete base slab – he did not mean it to fall down!). The oak cupboard door beneath is in a typical 1920s ‘mock-Tudor’ style. A very old mullioned, blocked-up window was found in the wall behind the ‘new’ staircase. This has not been touched, but is now covered by a cupboard in the utility room. An ancient coin – difficult to date – was found in the surface mortar between flints in this wall (this coin, along with the 1929 coin, will stay in the house with the Barlows’ bible, and genealogical chart). 

Mr McKenzie was probably also responsible for demolishing a wall of an old hallway at the west end of the Dining Room; the installation of a covered supporting RSJ (or similar) can be seen. Extensive alterations and additions to the ceiling beams in the front Sitting Room can also be clearly seen. It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that, apart from the remnant of the dividing half-timber framing (it has been cut through to provide a wide open doorway, probably by McKenzie) between the Dining Room and Sitting Room, half of the ceiling beams, and the old main fireplace, the rest of these rooms was extensively altered, and some apparently original features are actually ‘mock-ancient’. The rear wooden bay window, for example, must have replaced a much older casement window – probably lead-light. 

The bressemer beam above the Dining Room fireplace has been replaced (as can be seen by the modern mortar fixing it, as opposed to the old brickwork of the fireplace itself), but exactly when this was done is unknown. The beam above the fireplace in the Drawing Room was inserted in the 1990s. The beam above the Sitting Room fireplace has some graffiti carved into it, no doubt by inn customers at some time. The left-hand side pier and bressemer of a further large fireplace can be seen in the study, but at some time the opening was reduced to provide a smaller fireplace. 

Some of the old beams have been heavily filled and painted at some stage, mostly with a thick brown paint which was probably done to reinforce some of the crumbling ancient timbers before they deteriorated too badly. In that the present façade was erected (probably) in the 18th century, the old timbers (which abruptly ‘end’ in some places – and have been quite clearly cut down in thickness in other places) have lost much of their structural integrity. 

Because he added the connecting hallway with its ‘new front’ door, McKenzie was probably responsible for the blocking of the (now Millennium window) front door, retaining the bottom half of the old wooden door inside as a feature, and installing a window above. There is a suggestion, however, that this aperture was always only a ‘hatch’ for beer barrels to be rolled in (although it is highly unlikely that a hatch had a window above).  However, if there was a barrel hatch there, then the entrance to the parlour may have been through the more recently (1990s) blocked up doorway opposite, now with an interior window (painted with a dragon) looking into the front hallway. 

The owners who installed the Millennium window, also installed many further painted window panes throughout the house in the 1990s, some with obvious meanings, and others not so obvious. The pane in Bedroom 1, for example, with the three hares, each with two ears but with only three ears between them, are a symbol of the Trinity, and ‘copied’ from Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, in Suffolk. 

The original Victorian kitchen was where the Utility Room now is; this was extended sometime in the 20th century. The WC in this area was originally a larder, but was also recently a small utility room.  

Great care has been taken to retain as much of the old (although obviously much dates from only 1929) wall plaster as possible; thus repairs were carried out where possible using lime mortar and plaster, rather than re-plastering everywhere with modern plaster. To this end, the very battered 1929 skirting boards have simply been encased, rather than the wall fabric and plaster being damaged by their removal. The broken and worn circa1929 floor tiles in the old cottage and the hallway have been removed, the floor repaired, and replaced with new tiles or carpet. The brick and flint plinth base of the former exterior wall, exposed in the hallway, has been re-pointed with traditional, breathable, lime mortar. 

The roof of the entire house has now been completely repaired (including the barn annexe), and fully insulated. The electrics have been completely overhauled, and extensive new exterior drainage installed around the house. Much of the roof water drains into either the well at the front of the house, or the still-existing Victorian water storage ‘flask’ at the rear, an extremely useful source of garden water in a drought.

Dr. Dianne M. Duggan

February 2009 ]

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