Dorothy L Sayers House
These buildings form a charming terrace. They date from the 15th century but has been much altered and added to. In the early 19th century each house, separately and at different times, was given a brick front. The middle house, the first to be refronted, has two hipped dormers and a higher parapet. The houses were restored by Essex County Council in 1975. Dorothy L. Sayers, the writer, lived in no. 22 and 24, then combined into one house. She was the auther of the Peter Wimsey detective novels, the radio series 'man born to be King' and a translation of Dante. From about 1940 to her death, on her return home from London one night in 1957. She did all her writing here. Her work room was on the first floor of no. 24 overlooking the street. 'She wuold work far into the night if obsessed with an idea........If it were cold she would work just as happily in the boiler room; such things did not register with her'. It was the threat to demolish these houses that led to the formation of the Witham and Countryside Society.
The cottages, listed Grade II, were bought by Witham UDC c1965, who then tried to get permission to demolish and redevelop with shops and offices but were thwarted by then Minister of Housing and Local Govt. Witham Housing Association tried to buy and renovate the buildings but failed. They were eventually sold to Essex County Council for restauration with money from its revolving fund. A re-opening ceremony on Saturday 15th November 1975 at 11:30, saw a dias erected outside and a plaque was un-velied by Ian Carmichael, with speeches by Mr. Gerald Curtis (Chairman of County Planning Committee) and Lady Evershed of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Sources: Witham & Countryside Society; Lester Shelley; Janet Gyford.