The Titchfield Appeal

The Titchfield Appeal

“Unless we can have more open air museums and more concern, we just won’t be able to keep up with the destruction and most of the humbler past will be lost”

So said the Weald & Downland Living Museum’s Founder, Dr Roy Armstrong MBE in 1970.

The Weald & Downland Living Museum represents the history of ordinary people. It is not a history that received accolades or plaques, but it is equally important. Our founder believed that then and the Museum continues to believe that today.

Protecting the historic buildings in our care is always front of mind. One of our rescued buildings, Titchfield Market Hall, a rare timber-framed hall dating from the 1620s, is now the subject of the biggest conservation project the Museum has ever undertaken. We are launching The Titchfield Appeal to support this endeavour and we invite you to be part of something historic.

Ways to donate

Be part of something historic

We are an entirely self-funded museum, reliant on earned income to help maintain the historic buildings in our care. The project to conserve Titchfield Market Hall will cost a little over £500,000. We have raised significant amounts so far but need your help to reach our goal.

If you would like to be part of something historic and conserve this irreplaceable piece of history, you could:

Thank you.

Titchfield Market Hall’s journey to the Museum

Titchfield Market Hall comes originally from the small town of Titchfield in Hampshire and dates from the 1620s. It sat in the centre of the town’s central square, in the middle of the High Street, in front of what is now the Bugle Hotel. Its story is one familiar to many medieval market halls across England.

Titchfield

In 1535, we know that Titchfield had a thriving market, complete with a ‘Clerk of the market’, an official whose job it was to regulate traders and their wares, which included tasting the ale and bread on offer for quality and value.

Market and fair days brought an influx of people into a town. Itinerant traders like pedlars and chapman might set up their stalls alongside local farmers selling grain or fresh produce; merchants met up with suppliers to arrange business deals; travelling players and musicians entertained the public and refreshment was taken at local inns or ale houses. They were typically lively, colourful, noisy and highly sociable events.

Market Square

Despite its once busy market, by the 1580s there is no mention of a market in Titchfield in historic records. We believe that Titchfield Market Hall was built by Henry Wriothesley, the third Earl of Southampton, perhaps in an attempt to revive the town’s once vibrant commerce.

Perhaps this worked for a time, but court records from 1654, state that the Market Hall was ‘in decay for want of repairing’ and the fourth Earl, as the then lord of the manor, was ordered to repair it at ‘his own costs and charges’.

Titchfield Market Hall’s fate did not improve however. It is shown in its original position in the middle of the square on an estate map of 1753 but in the early 19th century (probably around 1810) it was relocated to a lesser position in the town.

By this date, many market halls had become redundant. Moreover, their location in the middle of the street caused an obstruction to the increasing volume of wheeled traffic, and the crush and noise of market days had become distasteful to a town’s more ‘polite’ inhabitants.

By 1968, Titchfield Market Hall was in an even worse state, with a demolition order placed upon it and deemed too dangerous to grant public access. It was at this point that the Weald & Downland Living Museum was approached.

The Museum supported efforts to retain and repair the hall in situ, which is our preferred option wherever possible. These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and as a last resort to rescue it, the Market Hall was offered to the Museum. With only a week’s notice of its pending demolition, the Museum work force, which numbered only five in those days, set about dismantling it. It came to rest in its new home at the Museum, rebuilt in 1974.

Conservation in detail

Having stood for over 400 years, been displaced, at threat of demolition and finally finding a home at the Museum, Titchfield Market Hall is now in need of some tender loving care. The conservation of Titchfield Market Hall has two phases.

The first phase is the conservation of the Market Hall itself, which will have three primary elements:

Roof tiles – Approximately 5,000 tiles cover the Market Hall roof. Each need to be removed with as much as 50% needing to be replaced. Replacement tiles will be made by hand and all tiles re-hung with a handmade timber tile peg.

Titchfield roof tiles

Brick inlay – between the timbers of the Market Hall is brick inlay, a herringbone pattern of bricks fixed into mortar and set between the timber frame. All of this must be removed. Sadly, we don’t think any of the bricks are salvageable. Each will be replaced with bricks made by hand and set into a lime mortar.

Tichfield brick work

Timber frame – Sections of the original timbers that are in good condition, will be retained. Parts that are too decayed to keep will be repaired with new oak facing. The aim is not to restore the building to its original condition, rather to conserve it as it is, prevent further degradation and maintain a visible history within the building’s physical fabric.

Tichfield timber frame

Phase Two will move the project onto the Market Square in which the Market Hall sits. The Museum sites in 40 acres of rolling countryside. With woodlands, rural pathways and cobbles, it can be difficult for visitors to navigate. The main Market Square is no exception.

In addition to conserving Titchfield Market Hall, our ambitions for this project extend to improving and enhancing accessibility around and through the Market Square by remedying drainage problems and re-surfacing the Square entirely.

Our ambition is to turn the Market Square into a thriving, welcoming space that is easy to move around on foot, in a wheelchair or for those with pushchairs, allowing all generations of a family to explore together. From our visitor feedback, we know how much of a difference this would make.

Conservation partners

The Museum team are pleased to work with the following partners:

  • The Morton Partnership
    Lead Consultants
  • McCurdy and Co
    Lead Contractor
  • Trowel Craft
    Key subcontractor
  • Ecological Consultancy Service
    Ecological Consultants
  • Philip Waller Consulting
    Advisor to Principal Designer

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