The Market Place
Finding History at Every Turn
The Market Place is the physical centre of the village, with six streets and lanes radiating from it. It was probably established by one of the Lords of the Manor and would have been both a meeting place and used for the exchange of goods. Barrow is unusual in that there were three manors including one by the church, where you expect one to be. There was another manor near Down Hall (now the site of Martin’s Close) where a Saxon or Early Norman church was discovered. The third manor was in the south, probably at Westcote near to Barrow Hall.
Barrow Beck, which flows down to Barrow Haven and the Humber, runs culverted underneath the Market Place and in the mediaeval period may have been used for trade and communications.
Though damaged, the remains of the Market Cross are important, as there are not many in Lincolnshire. Originally it would have been quite tall and impressive. It probably dates from re-Reformation times when there would have been crosses and shrines in many places. It is likely that the local priest would have held outdoor services here. There is a story that the stones served as part of some kind of stocks but it is unlikely that the cross would have been used as a punishment and there is no evidence of there being stocks here. The stump and plinth of the cross were carefully renovated by expert Andrew Gomersall. Previously the pointing was poor and used hard cement which didn’t allow the joints to breathe and encouraged a cracking of the stone. Andrew replaced several different types of cement with the more suitable lime mortar without changing the nature of the cross – for example, the worn stones show the wear of feet from centuries and so now are part of the character. In Victorian times the cross even served as the base for a gas light. The channel for the pipe can is quite clearly visible.
The Royal Oak
The Royal Oak is the oldest building in the Market Place. Most of the others seem to be early 1800s when there was a great deal of rebuilding. The Royal Oak is older as you can tell from the steepness of roof, which is steep enough to have been thatched. The chimney is axial – i.e. not at the gable ends. In the later 17th century, chimneys would be at the gable ends. In this building, the chimney stack is in line with the door. It had a ’lobby’ entry so you turn left or right into the main rooms. (With gable end stacks you go in via an entry hall with a staircase because there is no chimney in the way: a radical change of house plan mid-18th century.) The roof is about the same height as the front. A small blocked window shows the original window size. All of this indicates a building of between 1700 and 1750 but which could be even earlier. There is a large chimney stack at the rear also. The front shows decorative eaves and cornice (the decorative ‘dogtooth’ brickwork beneath the eaves). Originally there would have been no gutters. The tumbled gable ends were (like pantiles) developed in the Low Countries. It means that you do not have a chopped brick end exposed to the elements. The raised gable stops the wind getting under the thatch or tiles. There are smaller windows upstairs which have been renewed in the early 1800s, slender glazing margin bars replacing leaded lights and another blocked arch downstairs. It was probably a big farmhouse or possibly a showy grand house before it was an inn. At the time it was built, all the farm houses were in the village. The downstairs windows were replaced again in the Victorian or Edwardian period, probably when it became pub. The door case is from about 1800-1820; the door has been replaced and would have had a fanlight – an overlight – so there was some renovation in the first half of 19th century and then again later in the century, certainly before 1914. To the left of the Royal Oak you will see The Old Shop.
The Old Shop
The Old Shop has an archway which had a date c1840s. Other buildings around the area are of a similar period. The door and window details from this period – e.g. the palm design – can be seen elsewhere. The Old Shop has roof slates (which were expensive) and a big arch. The building has more of an urban style, showing a shift from a more local vernacular styles. The archway is big enough for a cart or domestic carriage serving a local business rather than being for a farm wagon. Purpose-built shop fronts were not common in the Georgian period.
In contrast, the Six Bells’ roof is steep and was built for pantiles and special attention was given to the corner of the roof and the unusual corner windows. The siting of the chimney stack suggests that it would have had a lobby entry.
Mayfield: The number 44 in the gable end of Mayfield (next to the Newsagents) must be part of 1844. There are no other examples in the village so proudly showing the date and it gives us a guide to the style of that period. A lot of trouble has been taken with the brickwork at Mayfield: the Flemish bond with paler decorative headers create a chequerboard pattern. There is no Flemish bond round the side. The doorcase is original but the door is later. The over light would have been smaller with Georgian style panes. (Plate glass was definitely not available at the time.)
Flemish Bond is created by laying alternate headers and stretchers in a single same course. The very next course of brick is laid in such a way that the header lies in the center of the stretcher in the course below, i.e. the alternate headers of each course are centered on the stretcher of course below. On the stretchers, one can see the shadow marks of other bricks. These originated in the kiln and were known as kiss marks. Bricks and tiles would have come from the local Humber Bank.
Co-op: The mid-19th-century decorative work over the first-floor windows of the shop incorporates a wavy design with a dropped central stone. The narrower central window would have been over a doorway of a double fronted house. The shallow roof height suggests it was probably slate.
On the other side of the road you will see Tobias House. The window and door pattern seem odd until you know that until recently it had a large shop front. The classical entablature has been kept. The corner window, again, is unusual and a similar one can be found in Barton’s Junction Square on a building which was also once a shop.
Cross Hill, now a residential care home, was built as one range in the 1840s or 50s. The doorcase retains its original style with its fancy hood, again with a narrower window above the door.
On the opposite side of Market Place is Warren House. Notice the little quarter bricks called ‘closers’ around the windows of Warren House. A bricklayer needs these in order to get a full brick next to the opening. The window spacings are odd but original.
Barrow is fortunate to have one of the finest High Streets in North Lincolnshire. Its High Street connects the Market Place with Holy Trinity Church, a path taken regularly by John Harrison 300 years ago. In Barrow you will find a wide range of distinctive buildings of historic interest both in the main street and in the roads leading from it. We have two suggested walks around Barrow - both start at the Market Place and describe the buildings you will pass.
The Northern Walk takes you up the High Street and roads to the North of the village and takes around one hour.
The Southern Walk which is shorter walk, takes in some of the streets to the South and takes around 15 minutes.