A commercial and domestic building, erected in the C15, divided c.1700 with C19 alterations and c.1900 shop fronts.
Materials: It was constructed with a timber frame which was later encased in brickwork. The steeply pitched roof is covered with plain tiles relaid in the C20.
Plan: On plan 2-4 St Mary's Street is formed of a rectangular range to the street front with a pair of ranges running back down the plot to the rear.
Exterior: The main facade, to St Mary's Street, is two-storeys high and of painted brick. The wall of no.2 breaks forward from its neighbour at the centre of the facade. At ground-floor level are two, c.1900 shop fronts; the doors placed centrally as a pair. The shop front of no.4 is formed of a large window of two, fixed lights with small opening lights over, beneath a fascia board and moulded cornice. The door and window are framed with plain, timber pilasters. The shop front to no.2 is wider and comprises a window of three, fixed, vertical lights beneath a fascia board and a simple, timber canopy box. unlike its neighbour, only the window is framed by plain pilasters. At first-floor level the fenestration is late C20 in date; three windows lighting no.2 and a single window for no.4. A gault brick stack to the rear of no.2 heats the rear range and is mid C19 in date. At the rear, no.2 is lit at ground level by a mid-C19, 6 over 6 sash window.
Interior: Internally the building is divided into two seperate propoerties, numbers 2 and 4 St Mary's Street.
Access to the roof space of the front range of no.2 St Mary's Street is via a very small, c.1700, two-panel door, with H-L hinges, from the upper-floor room of the three-storey rear range. The roof form is a simple, undecorated C15 crown-post roof with down braces from crown posts to the ties. The majority of the rafters and several of the collars survive, one broken, and modern timberwork has been introduced to add support. The roof of the rear range is not visible, hidden by plasterwork and modern matchboard. The ties of the front-range roof are apparent at first-floor level. On the east side, the tie is arch-braced at the walls and a jowled post is apparent at the north end. A modern partition beneath the tie has created a small room at the east end. Studwork beneath the west-end tie forms a closed partition. In the rear range, a dog-leg stair on the back of the front range leads down from the upper to the first floor. Underneath it, a plain, plank door with c.1700 butterfly hinges, gives the date of the stairs. Also on the back of the front range is a winding stair which leads from first to ground-floor level. Behind the lower steps are three panels of moulded, c.1700 panelling. The ground floor, like the first, comprises a room in the front range and a room in the rear. The front room is used as a drapers shop. The pamment floor of the front room is divided into an area laid square at the entrance and the remainder, which is laid on an angle. The area of square-laid pamments is contained by the west wall, which divides nos. 2 and 4, on the one side and a substantial, broad chamfered and stopped, C15 bridging beam on the other. The stop respects the mid-point junction with axial beams, of which only the one on the west side survives. An C18 archway stands on the line of the main door, and presumably once formed a way to the back range.
The floor of the back range at ground-floor level is brick, laid to an interleafed herringbone pattern. On the east side, a fireplace is blocked and panelled over. The rear door leads into a shower room and to the way out into a small rear yard.
The remains of the continuation of the plain crown-post roof in no.2 St Mary's Street can be seen in the roof of what is now no.4, in the form of a length of the collar purlin, supported by a truss that forms part of a timber-framed partition which divides the two dwellings. A good number of oriignal rafters survive but modern timbers have been introduced to offer extra support, as well as broad, pegged collars. The date of the collars is unclear as at least one is lap-jointed into modern timber. The roof of the rear range may be contemporary but is formed simply of coupled rafters, pegged at the apex, with what appear fot be later collars added.
The arrangement of the upper floor seems to have been set out in c.1700. The straight stair rises from the ground floor to a landing at the junction of the front and rear range. Above the stair a small section of wall post and a tie beam is visible. The landing has early C19 stick balusters and a slender, turned newel. Off the landing there are two rooms to the rear, a room over the front range and a small cupboard. Each has a c.1700 two-panel door which was carried on H-L hinges, although the doors have now been turned and hung on later hinges. A corner fireplace in the room of the front range is open, whereas below the corner fireplace is blocked and covered by a modern radiator.
At ground floor level No.4 St Mary's Street has been opened up so that there is no division between the front and immediate rear room. From here a door leads into the rear-most room, now the kitchen.
History: By the time of Bishop Fordhams's survey of 1417, St Mary's Street (then High Row Street) had been established. Speed's Map of Ely of 1610 shows by that time the north side of St Mary's Street had been built up, although of course the map is not detailed enough to highlight particular buildings. There was considerable development in Ely between 1610 and the middle of the C18 when the number of buildings was estimated at 609 and brick was the established building material, as opposed to a mixture of materials earlier, including timber-framing.
204 St Mary's Street is likely to have been one of the buildings depicted on Speed's map as there is evidence internally of fabric dating to the C15. At the time of the publication of Speed's map, St Mary's Street was named 'High Row Street', which implies a location on a market place, and it may be that the building was then used as commercial premises. Surviving bridging beams and the roof structure would seem to indicate that the building was probably erected as a single property but c.1700 it was divided into two dwellings and the rear range of no.2 was either reformed into three storeys or added, its stairs serving both ranges. Nos 2 and 4 were refaced in brick at different times in the C18 or C19.
Deeds, which probably relate to no.2 St Mary's Street only, in the possession of the owners, provide evidence that the property was occupied by Paul Gotobed in 1783, a staymaker, and afterwards his daughter Mary. Mary Gotobed died in 1825 and the property was bequeathed to Mary Ind who subsequently sold it to Marshall Fisher, Yeoman, in 1838. In 1899 the Fisher family sold the property to Hannah Legge, the wife of a bootmaker.
The present shop fronts were installed c.1900. A photograph of c.1900, hanging in no.2, shows that the roof of no.4 was re-covered around that time and the roof of no.2 has been re-covered more recently. Both campaigns of work probably involved some repair to the roof structure.
Reasons for Designation: Nos 2 and 4 St Mary's Street, a commercial and domestic building erected in the C15, is designated at Grade II for the following principle reasons:
Architectural Interest: The building contains a significant proportion of fabric dating to the C15, notably the majoirty of a crown post roof. Fixtures and fittings of c.1700 date, notably several doors, illustrate how the building was used at that time.
Group Value: The building has strong group value with listed buildings in the vicinity, notably the adjoining no.6 St Mary's Street, listed at Grade II, and the cathedral church, listed at Grade I