The Smallest House in England

Walk just a few yards further on down the High Street, stopping when you reach a small side turning opposite the Cock & Bottle pub. This was formerly called 'Hills Place'. (The street nameplate survived until recently, high up on the side of the building you have just passed).

Until the 1930s Hills Place was the home of nine families, living in two blocks of small houses fronting on to a central yard. The houses were demolished as slums in about 1935, and the site - having since served as a school kitchen and as a joinery yard - is currently (June 1999) being converted into a pub car park.

From this side turning, look straight across the High Street at the Cock & Bottle pub. This view was once the subject of numerous picture postcards. Why? Because No.95 High Street, Wavertree - now the right-hand end of the pub - was known as the 'Smallest House in England'. Just 6 ft wide, and 14 ft from front to back, it was occupied as a house until 1925. There are stories of a husband and wife having raised eight children in the house, and also of one very large resident who had to go upstairs sideways even after the staircase was widened to 16 inches from its original 8!

The façade of the 'Smallest House' was, at the suggestion of the Wavertree Society, renovated in 1998 by the owners, Bass Taverns so as to more closely resemble its original appearance. The house itself was probably not all that old. The evidence of old maps suggests that it was built around 1850 in what had been a side passageway. (The Cock & Bottle was at that time a Temperance Coffee House). Much older is the building next door, now Done's betting shop. Building work in 1989 revealed an old sandstone lintel above the original front doorway, with the carved inscription 'J J L 1766'. These initials may, perhaps, have referred to John Leech, who is recorded as the licensee of The Lamb in 1777 and a trustee of Holy Trinity Church in 1793. Look above the modern shopfront - a replacement for one that was attached to the original house in Victorian times - and you will see some unusual geometric plasterwork below the eaves, together with a sash window which almost certainly retains its original 18th-century glass.

The above is an extract from 'DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE',
. © Mike Chitty 1999.
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Page created by MRC 26 February 2000.