Hiding beneath its grand Georgian exterior a Bedford building has a timber frame dating back to medieval times.
The restoration of 1 St Paul’s Square revealed the ancient wood which archeologists date to about 1460, which suggests it was built 100 years after St Paul’s Church, during the War of The Roses.
The timbers show the building was originally just two storeys high, with a protruding first floor, like the Moot Hall, in Elstow.
Its front was designed to impress with ‘close studded’ timbers, a time-consuming build with a lot of expensive wood.
The first recorded use of the house was as an inn called The Falcon, in 1507. Later it became the Seven Stars, and in 1705, The Ship.
In the second half of the 18th century, the house was bought by wealthy coal merchant and three-times Bedford Mayor Richard Cave.
It is thought by this time timber-framed houses were unfashionable and he would have added the third storey and Georgian facade.
The building and the three adjoining historic buildings are undergoing refurbishment after lying empty for 40 years. They are being converted to nine affordable flats and one house.