Taken from the book Stow-On-The-Wold Glimpses of the Past published 2000:
There is a long-held tradition that part of this building was once a hospice built by order of Aethelmar, Duke of Cornwall in 947AD on land belonging to Evesham Abbey.
During alterations in the early 1970s, some timber in the building was carbon dated to 50 years either side of 1000 A.D., which would seem to confirm the tradition. Jack James, joiner and carpenter, who worked on these alterations, describes “the rear wall of the original building was a timbered wall framed together with oak timbers of approximately 9 inches by 5 inches, spaced about 12 inches apart, and a groove chopped in the centre of the edge of each timber. Oak split laths would then be dropped into the grooves, and plastered on both sides. This is now an inside wall”.
Since the Evesham Abbey records were lost at the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1537, we have no certain knowledge of the use to which it was put, which might have altered several times in 550 years.
During the later part of the 16th century a stone house was built on the site incorporating the original Saxon timber building. Jack James describes the roof space above the bedroom ceiling as “a beautiful timbered roof with roof trusses and purlins with moulded edges and shaped wind braces”. In what is now the dining room there is a very fine 16th century fireplace with incised symbols at the side which are said to be protection against witches. In 1976 Mrs. Winnie Sadler, who had lived in the house in her youth, told of a mouldy old shoe discovered in a hidden cupboard over an old fireplace. It was long and narrow, with a square toe, a style in use around 1600, at which period shoes were often put in chimneys to ward off evil spirits.
A long room upstairs had a frieze along the outside wall of winged horses with the head and torso of a woman, similar to one at Chastleton House which was built at the beginning of the 17th century. The piece removed when it was divided into two rooms has been preserved.
There are extensive cellars left when the stone was quarried to build the house. During the occupation by the Army in the 1939-45 war, an entry was found in the present bar with steps down to a cellar, and to a passage leading in the direction of Maugersbury. A number of other such passages have been found in Stow leading nowhere, and it is possible that they were used for storage.
Recent research by Ruth Stratton has identified the owners of this Tudor house as the Shellard (or possibly Shayler) family. Richard Shellard died in 1586. His widow remarried and became Elizabeth Brookes. In her Will dated 3rd December 1608. she bequeathed her property in Stow to her second son, Thomas Shellard, and it then passed to his only son, Thomas Shellard II. He it was who completed the building with the porch on which he placed his initials T.S. and the date, 1615. It was in this year his elder son John was born. John disappeared on November 13th 1630 when he was 15 years old. In June 1639 an inquisition was made into his disappearance, but no light was thrown on to the mystery. It was only in 1681 that his will was proven and his younger brother Thomas Shellard III could claim the property.
The house was disused by 1712, when a suggestion was made to turn it into a Workhouse or House of Correction, but nothing came of it.
The house later became an Inn, the Eagle and Child. Under the modern kitchen, a fairly recent extension, and outside the medieval building, Jack James records that “there was a space some 3 feet deep and about 12 feet square with a fireplace in one corner with a stone hearth and a flue”. It has been suggested that this might have been a cockpit belonging to the inn, since cockfighting was popular during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
About the middle of the 19th century the building was turned into two houses, Porch House and Holmlea. The stone canopy over the window towards the west shows the doorway to Holmlea. The fireplace in the western wall was incongruously modern. When it was removed in the mid 1990s, a series of five fireplaces were found showing various modernisations going back to the early 18th Century and finally revealing another 16th Century fireplace.
The conversion into a hotel dates from 1970.
Mary Beard 1975, updated 1997.