The Tudor House
The original Hall House, built in 1333, was transformed in the 1580s into the substantial Tudor building which survives today.
The Hall House
A sketch by architectural historian Edward Roberts shows the original layout, a mediaeval Hall House, open from the hearth to the ceiling with no chimney. The central area was open, with floored bays at one or both ends; the owners would have slept in the ‘best chamber’. The original truss beam and the smoke-blackened wattle and daub are the only remnants of the original Hall House. The truss beam has been dated by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) to the spring of 1333. The carving is elaborate for the period. Many craftsmen died in the Black Death a decade later, after which a scarcity of masons meant that elaborate carving was limited to the grandest of buildings.
The earliest known owner of The Tudor House was Nicholas Wright, in 1567. In the Hampshire Lay Subsidy of 1586, the Wright family (Robert, John and Nicholas) are called ‘gentlemen’ and were among the wealthiest families in East Meon. According to the 1589 fine book, Joseph Wright acquired from Nicholas Wright at least 11 houses and cottages, a mill, and well over 100 acres of land in East Meon. Joseph and his wife Anne, were very probably responsible for demolishing part of the original Hall House and replacing it with a substantial timbered building, forming an L shape.
The Tudor House
At some time towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Wrights demolished whatever stood at the eastern end of the Hall House and replaced it with a fine cross-wing, This was close-studded (lavish use of vertical timbers) and jettied (overhang) on three sides. This confirms that the owner who built the Tudor section was a very prosperous man who wanted to show off his wealth.
As Edward Roberts describes the house at this time: “It was now entered from the east, through a lobby which led straight to a double chimney breast, with the choice of turning right into the main chamber or left into a smaller room. The fine ground-floor chamber on the garden side has crisp 3” chamfers to massive beams, windows and doors with good moulding, the latter with vase stops”.
In 1881, the East Meon Reading Room, Library and Coffee House was opened in ‘The Square’ (left, top photo). Cross House (below) and Heycroft (right) were then all part of The Square. The Bryden print, made in 1905, shows a house in front of Heycroft which no longer exists. The Institute was replaced in 1972 by a new Village Hall fur¬ther down Workhouse Lane.
On the south side of the Square, The Tudor House was rented in 1892 by the Warren family who added a Grocer’s and Draper’s shop. On 31st December 1935 the property was freed from manorial dues and Arthur Warren became the freeholder. In the deeds, it is described as “one cottage with a garden of bondland in the tithing of Meon Manor” on which an admission fine of 2/- was payable – a figure which had remained constant since the 16th century. The grounds were allowed to go into disrepair.