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The Marvellous Medieval

Discovery of an unknown medieval hall

Since 2018, I’ve been working with Co-op to help deliver their new store in Redbourn, Herts. During the project, we found the Bull Inn to be some 200 years older than previously thought, instead originating as a timber framed #medieval open hall dating to circa 1400. Its wonderful smoke blackened roof and evidence of a large and impressive smoke louvre survive, despite much of the timber frame being replaced in brick in the late-18th century! The smoke louvre raised a small area of the ridge to allow for smoke to escape from the open fire at ground floor.

In 1554/5, the north half of the building was built, and the floor and chimneys were inserted to the medieval hall. In 1586, it was being run by Robert Finch, and by 1595 it had been taken over by his son, William. It was asserted in an undated manorial survey that the Finch family had been serving here ‘since ancient times’.

In the 17th century, a rear wing was added, likely replacing or sitting alongside an earlier range. Its ovolo mullioned window still survives, encased in brickwork and hidden from view. The inn underwent several alterations and additions in the coming centuries, but its early-15th century timber frame survives as testament to its medieval origins.

The recent work by Co-op has left the 15th century timber framing, and 16th-18th century additions untouched, which have been protected to ensure their continued survival. A comprehensive archaeological buildings record and watching brief was maintained throughout the construction programme.

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