History

Cafe Church Stretton

The Queen Anne town-house was built on a narrow site, which required the front door to open on to Barn Lane rather than the High Street, probably in the first decade of the 18th Century; the earliest documentary record is a rent bill of 1731, when Edward Phillips, a baker, lived here, paying a rent of 4d to a Mr. Botville of Shrewsbury. This record shows that the house had formerly been owned by a Mr. Berrye; it was to be known as Berry’s Messuage (a dwelling-house with outbuildings and land) for some 200 years.

CourtyardPainting

In 1734 the house was bought by Richard Lanslow, a surgeon (a term then referring to a general practitioner dispensing drugs and attending to out-patients). In the 1780s Richard Bray, also a surgeon, owned the house, living here until his death in 1828. His son Thomas sold the house for £600 in 1837 to William Wilding, another surgeon from a long-established Church Stretton family. A successful man, he may have been involved early in his career with Dr. Henry Hill-Hickman, who pioneered anaesthesia by inhalation.

William died in 1845, and the £500 mortgage granted by a Joseph Smith of Shrewsbury passed to his son Richard. In 1861 Richard and his wife Susannah lived here with their five children, together with a niece, a surgeon’s assistant and two servants. By then Richard had built a three-storey wing onto the Queen Anne house; this wing now houses the kitchen, and its front door surround can be seen in the conservatory. The building at the end of the courtyard (the level of which has been significantly raised during the 20th century) was the coach-house.

In 1872 the mortgage was transferred to William Salt, whose family name lives on at no. 19 High Street next door. By 1881 it had been increased by £200, no doubt to pay for the construction of the third extension – now the front tea room next to Barn Lane.

Berrys Church Stretton

Richard Wilding died in 1883 and his son sold the house in 1898 to Frances Rawlings, the wife of a Church Stretton farmer, for £1,100. For over 20 years Mrs. Rawlings operated the building as the ‘Central Boarding House and Family Hotel’, taking up to 20 guests. The building was requisitioned by the War Department for billeting soldiers’ wives during World War II. In 1945 it was sold to a family from Morden for £1,050, and for some years a Mrs Robinson operated a successful café on the premises.

The conservatory has been added in the last few years, replacing a lean-to structure covering steps down into the rear cellar, which boasts a fine selection of timbered recesses and what was probably where pigs were salted and an ice-store.

The front door, on the inside frame of which are iron staples to carry a heavy iron bar for security, leads into a panelled hall, from which a fine dog-leg staircase rises to the first floor where, traditionally for the area, the best rooms are sited. The rearmost room has dark oak Jacobean panelling, brought no doubt by Mr. Berry from another house he owned and cut down to fit. The front room has lighter oak panelling of the Queen Anne period, but it is not original to the house, as it masks a cornice and skirting board, both of which have now been reproduced in the downstairs dining room which had suffered from ‘1960s modernisation’.

In Victorian times full-length external shutters were fitted to the ground floor front windows, presumably for protection against the livestock on the road. Many of the panes in the Queen Anne house are of original cylinder glass.

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