Hi-tech Newport firm uncovers medieval past

The boss of a Shropshire firm operating in the hi-tech world of the internet has turned history detective to uncover the story of the company's new home, which is thought to have medieval roots.

Helen (front) with her team at their historic home.
Helen (front) with her team at their historic home.

Helen Culshaw has been on a voyage of discovery to find out more about the property at 5 Chetwynd End, Newport.

She is managing director of digital marketing agency Ascendancy Internet Marketing, which bought the property in 2019 and moved there from Shifnal in September last year after renovating the property.

Intrigued by the building's history, she has been doing some digging.

“We believe there was a building, or range of buildings, at 3/5 Chetwynd End dating back to medieval times,” she said.

“The oldest part of the buildings, the frontage onto Chetwynd End, was measured by Newport History Society and found to be the right width to be a burgage plot.

“A burgage plot was the property owned by a burgess in a medieval town and consists of a long narrow plot with a row of outbuildings stretching out to the rear of a shop or house. Burgesses congregated around main streets and the marketplace.

“The history society also dug some test pits in the garden of Number 5 during the summer of last year and found some pieces of medieval pot among many more modern finds.

Old, and not so old, pottery and glass dug up from the site.

"Within the property is a cruck frame which has been partly exposed by the previous owner and you can see how the building would have been a single storey structure, with the height having been extended upwards at a later date.

“Nothing is known as yet of the building between medieval times and 1835, when it, along with Number 3, appears on the 1835 tithe map in the ownership of Thomas Boultbee, who lived in and rebuilt Chetwynd House next door on the site of a previous farmhouse.

“By 1835 the building was the same shape as it is today, so the later additions must have occurred before then.”

Helen said that some time before 1862 the property came under the ownership of John Sarjeant, a local solicitor who also owned and lived in Number 3 next door until his death in 1906.

“That year, the pair of properties were sold at auction – Number 5 was at the time in the occupation of John Tomlinson.

“They were purchased by the Elliott family who lived in Chetwynd House next door, the house built by Thomas Boultbee. H G U Elliott was another solicitor, and he rented out Number 5 to his clerk William Henry Pugh and family, until both Pughs died in 1947.

“A family by the name of Greenaway lived in the property next, in the 1950s and 1960s. Maybe it was one of their children that was responsible for the initials ‘J G’ inscribed in the back wall.

The mysterious initials "J G" are carved into a wall.

“In 1960 the property was described as being in quite a poor state of repair. Rain was coming into the bedrooms, the grate was broken and smoke was pouring into the room from it. The window frames were rotten, the floor had gone through dry rot and you could see the garden through it.

“By 1962, however, a bathroom had been installed and a number of other improvements made. By 1981, however, the building had deteriorated again and needed a thorough overhaul.

“A major renovation and modernisation of the property took place, this being part funded by a grant from the local council. A new kitchen and bathroom were installed, with the bathroom having a toilet for the first time, an internal wall was rebuilt, floors were replaced downstairs, and many other changes made.

“We bought the property in 2019 from the family that had owned it since 1906, and once again it needed a thorough overhaul. We embarked on a project to renovate the house before finally moving in last September.”

Renovations in progress at the building.

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