OK, so our last entry in this series isn’t a house, just a facade. But it is a significant and rare example of part of a pre-Great Fire timber-framed house in London which has been relocated.
The intricately detailed wooden facade, which can now be found in the V&A in South Kensington, was originally part of a three-and-half storey mansion which stood on the west side of Bishopsgate Without (that is, just outside the City of London’s walls).
It was built by Sir Paul Pindar, a wealthy merchant and diplomat who was knighted by King James I in 1620 (we’ll be featuring more of his story in an upcoming ‘Famous Londoners’ article).
He had purchased several properties in the street in 1597 and then incorporated these properties into a single mansion which also included a new section (of which the striking facade survives).
The house, which Shakespeare himself may well have walked past, was unusually large and sufficiently opulent that it served as the residence of Pietro Contarini, the Venetian ambassador, in 1617–18.
By 1660, it had been divided into smaller dwellings and, having survived the Great Fire of London, subsequently became a residence for the indigent. The front rooms on the ground floor, meanwhile, were turned into a tavern named the Sir Paul Pindar’s Head.
By the late 19th century, however, the nearby Liverpool Street Railway Station needed more room for expansion and, as a result, in 1890 the property was demolished to make space.
Part of the facade, however, was carefully dismantled (albeit some large sections, like the projecting carved window frames, were kept intact) and subsequently moved to the V&A where it was reassembled using carpenters’ marks on the wood.
The restored frontage (without the original glass and leading which was replaced in 1890) initially stood near the front of the museum but in the Noughties was delicately moved to where it now stands in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries.
While the museum is currently closed as a result of coronavirus restrictions, we publish these details for when you can visit. Timed tickets can be booked for future dates here.
WHERE: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road (nearest Tube stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road); WHEN: Special – see above; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.vam.ac.uk