Webpage created: December 15, 2019
Webpage updated: December 15, 2019
The earliest documentary record of what is today known as the Elizabethan House at number 32 New Street is a mortgage deed dated 1631, recording that Mr Richard Brendon, the Borough Treasurer or Receiver of Plymouth Corporation borrowed £150 on the House from Mr William Hele, who had just completed his first term as Mayor of Plymouth, 1629-30. The property is said to date from circa 1590.
Under the aforementioned deed Mr Hele was to take possession of the House in the event of default of payment, which he did on March 28th 1633.
When the House was under threat of demolition in 1929 an Old Plymouth Fund was set up to preserve the building.
The House has three floors, a garden and a courtyard. The living room is at the front of the ground floor, with the kitchen adjoining it. A pole staircase leads to the first floor, where the bedroom and a small courtyard room are situated. On the second floor are two small attic rooms.
The City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, who are responsible for the House, state that in one year the House had 58 recorded occupants.
New Street was included in a slum clearance programme in 1919 and by 1926 had been purchased by Plymouth Council from its owner, Mr Leaman. A notice in the local press inviting tenders for the demolition of the House was spotted by an architect, Mr Arthur Southcombe Parker (1866-1945). The Old Plymouth Society was formed on January 17th 1930 to restore the property and turn it into a furnished museum house. Mr Parker became the Society's first honorary secretary.
Viscountess Astor, Member of Parliament, performed the official opening on Friday May 30th 1930 in the presence of the Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman James Churchward; and the Honourable Albert Halstead, Consul-General of the United States of America.
A principle feature of the Elizabethan House is the pole staircase, which uses a ship's mast as the central post around which the stairs are arranged. It is set into the thickness of the wall. The only handrail is a rope.
The Elizabethan Bedroom, on the first floor, now contains an oak four-poster bed that was originally made for Littleton Hall, in Worcestershire, from which it was later moved to Mannington Hall, Norfolk, from which it was purchased for use here in Plymouth.