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Tudor House - key to the formation and continuation of BBCS

The three cottages 114 – 118 Bradford Street, Bocking known collectively as Tudor House were, until November 2012  in the freehold ownership of Braintree and Bocking Society Limited, a Company Limited by Guarantee incorporated on 25th July 1968 for the purpose of buying and restoring the property.

About 1520 Tudor House was built for a Bocking clothier; Bocking was a centre of extensive trade in woollen cloth. It is of wattle and daub construction and richly endowed with oak timbers. There is a gatehouse at the south end and a characteristic carved bressumer supports the jettied first floor. It was fitted with glazed windows on the ground floor but the first floor windows were unglazed and closed with shutters. Window slides which were revealed during the restoration of the house in 1974 may no longer be visible.

In the late 1960s Tudor House stood in front of a garage and service station forecourt and was being left to fall into ruin with, it was presumed, the intention of obtaining permission to demolish it.

The loss of such an important part of the local heritage caused controversy and a campaign to save it led by Dixon Smith of Lyons Hall, High Garrett supported by the local Member of Parliament Brian Harrison was successful. A public appeal and loans from the Braintree & Bocking Urban District Council, Essex County Council and the Historic Buildings Council raised the funds required for purchase and restoration. A local builder, Messrs J.H. Fergie & Co, was paid £2,624 for the work and many members gave help or advice, including the architectural expertise of one of The Society's members, the late Eric Howard.

The property was converted for use as the Town Museum which opened in 1970, housing the private collection begun by the late Mr. Alfred Hills. However, exhibits outgrew the available space and the collection was moved to the Institute (now Bocking Arts Theatre) in 1981 and from 1993 to the newly opened Braintree District Museum in Manor Street.

Attempts were made to find alternative uses for Tudor House without success and The Society was advised that the only viable alternative use was to restore it to residential accommodation. Sometime after the property had stopped being used by clothiers it had been converted into cottages and in 1985 Tudor House was sold to a developer who converted it back to the present three cottages.

The first essential was to ensure the building's continued preservation and, after consultation with the Charity Commission and Braintree District Council, it was decided to retain the freehold and grant a 999 years lease containing firm covenants that would enable The Society to enforce its preservation. After repayment of the outstanding loan to the Council there remained a net surplus of about £22,500 which was invested and the annual income is now used to support The Society's Grant Scheme.

In November 2012 the cottage owners purchased the freehold after payment to the Society of appropriate compensation assessed by an independent valuer.

The Company is registered as a Charity Number 267607and full details can be found at:-
www.charity-commision.gsi.gov.uk.