Building record DBN 153 - The Angel Inn, Debenham

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16th century inn, formed by adapting two earlier structures


Grid reference Centred TM 1738 6334 (28m by 27m)
Map sheet TM16SE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Despite extensive alterations and losses in recent years the Angel remains an important grade II-listed timber-framed and rendered structure that was recorded as an inn by a manorial survey of 1621. Its chief historic interest relates to a rare and exceptionally well preserved rear gallery of the 16th century that allowed external access to the first-floor guest rooms, and an unusually fine collection of apotropaic (evil-averting) symbols cut into the lintels of its two ground-floor fireplaces. The contemporary cross-passage screen with foliate-carved spandrels is also a fine example of its type.

The inn was apparently formed in the mid-16th century by combining two building plots, each of two perches in length, and adapting the earlier structures on the site; a process which offers rare evidence of the flexibility of urban boundaries during the medieval and Tudor periods. The present building reflects the standard domestic layout of its day, with a central hall of two bays flanked by a parlour and high-end chimney on the left and a service bay on the right. This apparent normality, however, conceals a far more complex process of evolution, and is the result of dramatic alterations to an earlier and smaller house of the late-15th century. The street range consists of three structures of different dates: the service and gate bays to the right (south) were never jettied and represent an addition of the early-17th century on the site of an earlier service bay, while the hall and parlour were initially jettied and are accordingly wider (their recessed lower stories having been under-built in the 18th century). The parlour and the left-hand bay of the central hall originally formed the hall and service bay respectively of a 15th century house that was probably L-shaped and possessed a parlour in a wing behind its hall. This wing was unfortunately demolished in the 1960s or 1970s and replaced by a flat-roofed lavatory block. The 16th century chimney was inserted into the redundant 15th century cross-passage. The enlarged building seems to have functioned as a single inn until the late-19th century when the demolished rear wing and the adjoining front room once again became a separate tenement that was not reunited with the rest of the inn until the 1970s. (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2014. Heritage Asset Assessment: The Angel Inn, Debenham.

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Record last edited

Nov 13 2014 3:46PM

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