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Building Name/Street Number
[53-55]
90

Timber-framed house, 'old hall', demolished December 1939 - photographs of the building are held by the Essex Record Office and by Colchester and Ipswich Museums. Possibly the house known as Westons in the 16th century, where the original grammar school was founded by Thomas Christmas by his endowment of 1520.

From Eric Rudsdale's diary: '...
17th October 1939:
Museum Committee this afternoon. The ancient house in Culver Street is finally doomed – no further efforts are to be made, and it is to be demolished forthwith. Our fight for 6 years has been lost
8th November 1939:
It has now been agreed that Vaughan the builder, who has considerable experience with old timber-framed buildings, shall dismantle the [old] hall [in Culver Street], so I went to see him tonight and arranged that he should inspect the place.
9th November 1939:
Vaughan came along this morning, and we made a thorough examination of the whole structure as it stands. It suddenly occurred to me that, while there is little hope that the whole place would ever be re-erected in its present form, there is no reason why one bay should not be re-erected forthwith in the Castle Main Hall. There is only one hammer beam actually complete, and that lacks one of the curved braces, and many of the smaller timbers are very rotten and would have to be replaced. In my opinion it would therefore be a much more sensible thing to re-erect only one end bay, using all the best timbers in that section. The whole thing could stand over the Easthorpe fireplace like a great wooden canopy.
21st November 1939:
Museum Committee. The Doctor got the old house scheme put through without any bother at all. They seemed glad to have such a simple solution to the matter.
I admit this is a very poor second to preserving the house on the site, but what else could I do?
15th December 1939:
Nothing to note nowadays. Vaughan is bringing the timbers in as fast as he can [from the old house in Culver Street], but there are no other museum activities at the moment.
2nd January 1940:
Greatly to my surprise and joy, Vaughan came to the Castle today and began work re-erecting the old [timber-framed] house [from Culver Street]. There are four men on it, and they laid out one side on the floor today.
19th January 1940:
Vaughan got all one side of the old house [from Culver Street] up today [in the Castle], and Sisson came in to inspect it. It looks even more impressive than I thought it would, but the interior of the Castle Main Hall is so high that the thing will not, I feel sure, look out of place. Sisson is taking a great deal of trouble over this, and we must be grateful to him.
12th February 1940:
All pipes frozen in the Castle again. Vaughan finished the old house today, and I think it can be clearly said that he has made a very good job of it. It looks very well in the Castle, and is quite the most impressive thing we have ever had ...'

Eric Rudsdale worked for Colchester Museum; his diary is published as 'E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of Wartime Colchester', ed. by Catherine Pearson (2011).

'... The provision of a car-park at the east end of Culver Street and the demolition of All Saints' Court involved the removal of a fine timbered building, with hall, of late XV. century date. Every effort was made by the [Museum] Committee to save this house, and the aid of every interested body was sought, but in vain. As a last resort, one third of the fine hall was re-erected in the museum and provision made that the vaulted cellars should be preserved ...' ('Report of the Colchester and Essex Museum 1937-1944', p 6, includes photo.).