The Old Farmhouse, Selworthy Farm; C16 Cross-Passage House
Two storey, originally three cell house set into the hillside. The west end is now single storey and used as an outhouse. The front wall of this part of the house has gone but the rear wall survives with a semi-circular projection which was probably a stair turret. The remaining front elevation has an external stack on it, the upper part of this has been removed and it is now roofed over. The other stack on the east gable is external and axial. The rear elevation has a square turret and west of it a lean-to. A small outbuilding, entered through the greenhouse, is lean-to on the east end of the rear. The roof is gable ended, with a lower ridge over the west end. A passageway leads to the late 19c farmhouse from the southeast corner. Roof pantiles with matching ridge tiles. West end of house - pantiles with rusted corrugated iron over rear semi-circular stair. Walls rendered, rubble stone with some cob in rear wall of hall. Front and side of west end - vertical planks set hit and miss fashion. Three jointed cruck trusses survive, partitions below these divided the first floor over the hall and parlour into four bays. The original roof over the lower room has completely gone, judging by the map evidence it was in disrepair and disused in the 19c. There was probably a truss where the westernmost A frame now stands, and another in the position of the central kingpost truss. The west end of the roof was possibly a full hip, the lower room being unheated. The surviving original timbers do not show any evidence of smoke-blackening, so that the house was either built in the 16c, or substantially rebuilt on the site of an earlier one. The jointed cruck trusses are morticed and tenoned at the apex and held by a single protruding peg. The collar is set high, tenoned into the blades and pegged. The soffits of the collars and blades have round holes in them, presumably for the original partition supports. The cruck joints have four side pegs, the wall-posts are visible down to the first floor. The eastern and central jointed crucks are still complete but in urgent need of repair. Water and beetle damage are apparent, and both front joints are at risk. The third ( western) truss has lost the lower part of the front blade and the wall-post, presumably as a result of the neglect which contributed to the almost complete destruction of the west end of the house. 16c two storey house with three ground floor rooms and cross- passage, and two stair turrets. There is no sign of smoke blackening on the remaining original jointed cruck roof timbers, and the front stack has not been added to the house, so the fireplace is contemporary with the original build. The large stones in the jambs and quoins suggest that this is an early fireplace, and it may be that this house was one of the first in the area to be built with an internal stack. The beams and large joists supporting the first floor also suggest a 16c date. The cross-passage would have been between hall and lower room and the turret opening out from the other end is similar to the arrangement at West Lynch Farmhouse which is an earlier building but had first floor rooms at each end. A plank and muntin screen separated the hall and cross-passage, the top rail survives with the mortices in it. As the west end, except the rear wall, has gone there is no way of knowing if a similar screen was on the other side of the passage. The rectangular turret gave access from the parlour to the main bedchamber above. The recess on the first floor next to it was either a garderobe or a cupboard, it seems likely that it was the former as it has a small window similar to that in the turret. Early 17c the first floor partitions under the jointed crucks, between grain bins F/G and grain bin H/ bedroom I, are not original. In the soffits of the blades and collars are round mortices, the present partitions are supported by larger square timbers, nailed on. They support daub with a lime skin on reeds, and include the round-headed doorway between grain bins F and G. It seems that the first floor was re-organised into four rooms ( it is not possible to know how many rooms existed over cross passage and lower room), probably in the first part of the century. In the late 18c/ early 19c moulded architraves were added to the doorways in the hall, and the surround put in front of the kitchen fireplace. This chimney may have been added in the 17c with the oven, but no dating evidence can be seen, and it may be late 18c/ early 19c. Cider store/ dairy added. The rear door in hall was blocked for this. By the mid 19c the house seems to have been in disrepair, particularly the west end, presumably the thatch leaked badly. 1883-84 the new farmhouse was built ( Holnicote Estate Ledger Acland Papers, D.R.O.). Not shown on 1876 ( Holnicote Estate Map) and 1889 ( OS 1st edition Somerset sheet XXXIV.7, scale 1:2,500). Between 1889 - 1903 west end except rear wall removed, remaining first floor over hall converted to grain bins. Rear turret ground floor doorway in kitchen blocked with bricks, ladder access provided. The west end was rebuilt as a single storey out- building and used for chickens/ storage/ dogs between 1903 and 1929. ( 1st and 2nd editions OS Somerset sheets XXXIV.7, scale 1:2,500, 1903, 1929). The kitchen continued in use throughout the period, an Aga was put in ( Mid 20c) and the rest of the house used as a store. Important Features: External appearance with front stack and two rear stair turrets ( 16c). Three room plan ( 16c). Jointed cruck trusses ( 16c). Early partitions between kitchen/ hall, bedroom E/ passage, grain bins F/ G with an arched doorway, grain bin H/ bedroom I ( 16c/ 17c). Rear stair turret with stone steps and possible garderobe ( 16c). Late 18c/ 19c plank and ledge doors. Mullion window in bedroom E ( 16c/ 17c). In a very poor state of repair - the first need is for the roof to be made water-tight and the undergrowth cleared away from the rear. Urgent attention is needed if the building is not to deteriorate further.