Word on the Saints

THE TERRACOTTA TERRACE

WRITTEN BY CATHY FROST

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The terracotta coloured range of buildings in Silent Street have looked down St Peter’s Street to the Waterfront for over 500 years.

Built at the end of the 15th century as an inn or lodging house, the large timber-framed building consisting of 45 – 47 St Nicholas Street and 1 – 9 Silent Street has been interpreted by architectural historian Leigh Alston, as “one of the most complete and important early Tudor inns anywhere in Britain”.

When the inn was extended in the early16th century, a finely decorated hall was added to the left of the original inn and accessed through a new entrance porch which extended out into Silent Street in the position of the current shop window. The merchant responsible for this high-status extension is unfortunately not known, but his merchant’s mark can still be seen on the carved corner post.

Much later, probably in the late 18th or early 19th century, the original inn was divided into separate residences and became numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9 Silent Street.

In the 1840s, the shop at number 3 Silent Street was occupied by John Crispin and his family where they ran Crispin & Co, tailors, drapers and hatters. Following the Crispins, the Day family ran their greengrocery business here until 1886. By the turn of the 20th century William Duvall, a bootmaker was living and working at number 3. The shop remained a bootmaker’s until 1936, with the Proctor family taking over in 1910 and Abbott family in 1931. In the 1940s, Tom and Myfanwy Cook opened the College Gateway Bookshop which they ran until the 1980s when the Cox family acquired the business and ran the bookshop until 2015.

Although the shop has stood empty since the bookshop closed, the arrival of new owners in 2017 has seen a period of research and rejuvenation. Whatever the future holds for this wonderful building, it is sure to be part of the vibrant community of the Saints.