Examination of the Tudor Wall panels in situ at Manor Farm, Egham, prior to their removal. 1971

Examination of the Tudor Wall panels in situ at Manor Farm, Egham, prior to their removal. 1971
On loan from the Oliver Trust

Manor Farm is situated on Manor Farm Lane in Egham. It is a very ancient building with substantial sections dating back to the late 16th century, and the site of some remarkable examples of decorated plasterwork. It is a two-storey timber-framed house with a rectangular layout with additions to the north and south and at the back. The 16th century section consists of four bays, with a central bay taken up by a large chimneystack, a principal staircase and an entrance hall.

The ground floor bay north of the chimneystack was the service area, used for food preparation and other domestic activities. South of the chimney was the principal living room. This is where wall paintings were found. They were executed on lime putty in dry colour, in a technique known as ‘Secco’ painting. They show animals, buildings, decorative scrolls and floral motifs. The paintings were carefully removed in the early 1970s, and now form part of the Runnymede Borough Council collections.

The roof space is likely to have been used to provide extra living accommodation. There is a fireplace on the central stack, and the structure has enough headroom to allow for ease of use as living quarters. Servants and farmhands are most likely to have lived here.

The building is of particular historical significance because it is a very early example of a type of popular architectural model which persisted right into the 19th century. Before this design of house became common, homes for people of similar social status would have consisted of a large central hall – the full height of the building with sections at either end having two storeys. The hall would have been heated by an open hearth with everyone living communally. By the 16th century, this arrangement no longer suited people’s needs. Chimneystacks were inserted into existing homes and extra floors were added to make them two-storey throughout. New homes were built along the model of Manor Farm, with all services including the entrance hall, fireplaces and staircase were located within one narrow section, leaving the rest of the house free for domestic activities.

Manor Farm now forms part of a Day Centre facility.

References:

Accessioning files, Manor Farm wall panels

Rendell, Maureen, ‘Carta I: Manor Farm, Egham’, Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society