The Ancient High House, Built in 1595, is the largest existing Elizabethan, timber framed town house in England. Located on the main street in Stafford, the house inhabits period room displays and exhibitions, demonstrate the house’s rich historical past.
Charles I visited this historic property on the 17th and 18th September 1643, during his visit to Strafford. The main room of the house, would then have been the central room on the first floor and used to entertain guests, including King Charles I and Prince Rupert, during their stay.
The additional joint housing, cut into some of the timbers on the house, suggest that they have been reused from a previous housing structure. This indicates that the house could have been built from an existing property that was dismantled and then rebuilt in a different location. Many of the original timbers consist of carpenter’s marks, suggesting that the house’s frame was pre-assembled on the ground during its construction.
Due to renovations on the ground floor in the 19th Century, the structure of the building was weakened. During this time there was rumours the High House was going to be demolished as a result of the extent of work that would be needed to get the building up to standards. On hearing this rumour community of Stafford worked together to raise money to contribute to the historic local building. This demonstrates the High House’s importance to local residence and the iconic presence it has to Stafford.
The Ancient High House is now welcomes visitors to its historic house museum, with a collection of period room furnishings and displays, including the English Civil War, Edwardian and Victorian eras. The attic floor is home to the Staffordshire Yeomanry Regiment Museum, founded in 1794, featuring uniforms and artefacts of the Staffordshire Yeomanry.
High House hosts an exciting line-up of exhibitions by regional artists, this takes place in two gallery spaces. A changing history exhibition within the space gives visitors the chance to view a variety of artefacts not typically on public display. Three galleries feature changing art, photography and history exhibitions.
The Ancient High House is a landmark just off the market place in Stafford, visited by many and celebrated by local residents. Similar to many Elizabethan town houses, the Ancient High House has a narrow frontage, so you do not get a real sense of the size of the building from the street. When entering the house, visitors are able to engage in different aspects of Stafford’s history. Entry is usually free, except for special events.