London’s oldest

Sykes & Son Limited based on Essex Street, just off Strand since 1759 Is moving. As London’s oldest builder Sykes & Son was formed by John Willis in 1759 and its earliest records show that it worked at St Clement Dane’s Church in 1759 – where it worked again some 250 years later. Other clients include the Tower of London, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and English Heritage.

They haven’t remained in the same Essex Street building [featured]: 1759-1799 at number 23; 1799-1881 at number 47; 1881-1895 at number 9; 1895-1949 at number 10; 1949-1969 at number 8; 1969-2020 they moved to 23 Devereux Court which is a small turning off Essex Street.

They have worked on Royal palaces, world-renowned museums, galleries and universities but a new possible client for the company has been uncovered, ironically at the same time, Sykes moved to Bloomsbury.

At 54A High Street, High Barnet a crown post timber roof was found intact dating to 1397, or perhaps earlier, which would make it the oldest known surviving timber structure in London. To put it into perspective Westminster Hall with its huge hammer-beam roof, commissioned by Richard II was completed in 1401.

This shop was being converted from a hairdresser to a florist when the discovery was made. Built-in the days when High Barnet was on the route of animal drovers who stopped the night at taverns or perhaps sold animals at a fair. Barnet fare is one of the most well known and oldest in the country.

At some point, it is thought the building was amalgamated into a group of taverns that became the Mitre, which was established in 1633 and is Barnet’s oldest former coaching inn.

Analysis by Historic England has shown that the oldest timbers were from trees felled between 1330 and 1362, those mature trees would have been saplings at the time of the Norman Conquest.

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