Several of the old houses in High Street were given a face-lift in the eighteenth century. Looking at no. 1 High Street you can see clearly where the brick façade fronting the street has been joined onto the stone side wall. It would be interesting to know what the frontage looked like before the façade was built onto it, when the work was done, who was the architect and how much it cost.
As reported a year ago in the Sutton Observer, the owner of the building, Kimberley Kong, is interested in its history, and a historic building record has been made by the Sutton Coldfield Local History Research Group. This record, consisting of over 200 photographs together with plans and descriptions, was presented to Sutton Library last month, and you can see it there. However, it is mainly a record of the features to be seen when the survey was done, and does not answer the questions posed about the façade.
More research into the records of Emmanuel College Cambridge (owners of the building in the eighteenth century) may answer some of the questions. It is unlikely that we will find any description of the appearance of the original building, and only the dismantling of the frontage would answer that question. This is a listed building, and must not be demolished, so the question of what the original building looked like must remain unanswered.
We did find out a great deal about the history of the building in the course of our project to record 1 High Street, including some surprises. As sometimes happens, lots of information about other aspects of our local history turned up during the project - leads to be followed up in due course by members of the Local History Research Group - we have already published over 50 articles about aspects of our history.
I will be giving a talk about our work on 1 High Street at the next meeting of the Sutton Coldfield Civic Society at 7.30 on January 15th at Wylde Green Library - all welcome.