Freebournes 

The building, listed Grade II*, spans over five centuries although very little of its 15th century origin remains. The central part and two jettied cross wings were largely rebuilt in the 17th century. A Regency style rear extension was built in the 18th century and a new facade added. From 1675, until the late 1960s, it was a working farm eventually with 340 acres of land and barns and outbuildings behind. The farm covered a large area including what is now the Grove Centre and the industrial estate. There were also labourers' cottages and ornamental gardens.

 

Earlier, in 1659, it had been rented out to a Witham clothier, John Freebourne. He had his own 'money' minted with which to pay his employees. These tokens could be spent in local shops. John would then buy them back with real money. This practice was fairly common because of the shortage of small denomination coinage. See the picture below – note the name is spelt ‘Freeburne’.

 

The building was converted to shops in the 1960s and has been occupied by Musicrafts, Tommy Tucker, Kempco, Buckmaster Furnishings, Breadsticks Café, Asian Inn, Peking Chef, and Churchill’s Fish & Chips.

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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