When the old 'Irish Menswear' shop was being redeveloped in the 1970s, a much older house emerged during demolition.
The Mystery House on Churchgate
Demolition of the old 'Irish Menswear' shop at the corner of Churchgate and Warner's Lane in Loughborough in July 1975 revealed an unexpected glimpse of the ancient town.
From the street the building had shown nothing of obvious architectural interest, but on closer examination it proved to have the remains of two timber framed wings incorporate in it. One of these wings appeared to date from as early as the 14th century and had been a lofty hall open to the roof. It would have been erected for a person of some wealth and, in its time, it must have been a significant building in the town.
Right is the shopfront of Irish Menswear as it was prior to the redevelopment work in 1974.
Left shows the demolition phase and the emergance of a timber-frame structure.
The attention of the Society was first drawn to the building early in 1974 when a row of adjoining cottages were being demolished to make way for the first stage of the redevelopment of the site. This revealed an extensive area of timber framed construction which looked to be 15th century. This was on the end wall of the building facing the old Loughborough Bus Station and led to speculation about what else might be concealed behind the modern shop frontage.
Timber frame exposed
The shop owners were contacted and arrangements made for a limited number of people to view the inside of the building and evaluate it.
Once inside, the timbers that could be seen seemed to confirm that the building had incorporated the remains of one or more timber framed buildings.
It was also clear that the timber framing had been almost completely removed from the ground floor at the time when the modern shop frontage had been inserted and much of the rest of the building was modern. The structure was in a very decayed state and no reasonable case could be made for its preservation.
Arrangements were made with the owners for further access for a few weeks, once the stock had been removed, so that a record of the building could be produced.
How the premises on Churchgate might have looked in the 18th Century. A conjectoral drawing by Brian C. J. Williams.
Pictures are courtesy of Leicestershire County Council Museums Service and LAHS members.
©Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society