The Stable Block consists of a stable, carriage house and a cottage for the coachman, so whenever the family of the house wanted to be taken somewhere by the horse drawn coach the driver could be reached quickly and have the coach ready.
This was also so the coachman could look after the horses in the stable, as the stable could be reached through the carriage house through internal doors. The two bay carriage house would have stored two ornate carriages which the family would have used for transport.
The horses would have lived in the two partitioned stalls. Farms often had two working horses, such as Shire horses or Suffolk Punches. These would have been used to plough the fields, and pull all the machinery on the farm until tractors became common place.
The stables still have all the fittings from when they would have been used for horses. The floor is made of small cobbles, which would have been easy to sweep and wash down when the horses were mucked out.
The stable would have had a hayloft above it where hay cut in the summer would have been stored, so it was easy to drop down to feed the horses in the winter. You can see the hay loft door in the top of the right hand side building in the photograph taken before restoration below. A hay cart would have driven up to the building and a workman would have used a large hay fork to lift the straw from the back of his horse drawn cart into the loft.
The carriage house can be seen in between the coachman’s cottage and the stables itself showing the working progression of the coachman if the family of the house wanted to venture out, preparing the carriage and then fetching the horse from the stable. It’s interesting that a small fire place was found in the carriage shed, which can only demonstrate the social importance of the carriages as there was the desire to keep the carriages warm and dry.
During restoration an earlier addition to the farmstead was identified. It had long been thought that the Brew House, for making wines and ciders for the house-hold, was in a building which had since been demolished.
But evidence for beer and cider brewing equipment was found in the coachman’s cottage, which was added after the attic of the house was converted into servant dwelling allowing the coachman to be housed elsewhere. These additions were most-likely put in place by Samuel Whitbread, who could have used it in the beer and cider brewing industry.
Further domestication of the cottage is evident from the remains of a bread oven in the photographs below, which also demonstrates the rising social importance of the farmstead during the period. The smell of homemade bread must have be incredible.
The Stable Block Today
The Stable block today is almost unrecognisable from before its dramatic restoration. Today, it has become the site’s café, serving great food and refreshments to the visitors, students and staff.