C17 house, more recently shops, with accommodation above, and a rear domestic range.
Reason for Listing
54-56 and 54A High Street, Billingshurst, a C17 range fronting the High Street and attached rear range, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: C17 timber framed building and rear range, probably replacing an earlier building, demonstrating the evolution of the local vernacular tradition;
* Plan: unusual survival in Billingshurst of a two-storey rear range of this early date;
* Historic interest: street-frontage range and rear range, possibly relating to documented construction, that demonstrate the evolving use of the burgage plot in the post-medieval period in a medieval town centre.
The range fronting the street probably dates from the C17. It is thought that a deed of c1631 may refer to this property when it mentions a 'newly erected dwelling house' of two and a half bays and a half built for Matthew Weston, although this has not been proven. However the northern bay (no 54) appears to contain evidence of an earlier structure that would correlate with the longer history of the High Street. The three-bay building (54A) on the rear of the burgage plot to the rear of no 54 is of mid-to-later C17 date. The front range is used as commercial premises, doubtless its historic function, while the rear, apparently domestic range is occupied as a house. More recently the building has been used as a draper's shop, store and post office.
Typically a street frontage building on a narrow burgage plot of medieval origin might open at the rear onto a yard, enclosed by service buildings or workshops. Such an arrangement survives well at Goldrings, West Street, Midhurst (Grade II) where the rear courtyard is enclosed by a two-storey kitchen wing and stables and beyond it a detached stable or carriage house.
In the C19 a shallow half-hipped bay was added to the front of no 56; it was subsequently enlarged with a large C20 shop front.
MATERIALS: timber frame, the front range rendered, the rear range mostly clad in brick and tile hanging; the street frontage has Horsham stone roofs, the rear roofs and rear range have plain tile roofs. The ground floor of the front range was principally rebuilt in the C20, with masonry walls, and has large later C20 shop fronts.
PLAN: three-bay, two-storey range fronting the street, now divided into two premises, the chemist occupying the central and southern bay, the carpet shop the northern bay while also extending to the rear parallel to 54A. The southern bay of the main range has been extended by half a bay beyond a former external transverse wall of the timber framed structure that is now internal. To the rear, at right angles to the street, a three-bay, two-storey range with a large internal stack to the innermost bay and a later external gable end stack. The north-western bay is possibly later in date. Lean-to single-storey outshut against the northern wall, abutting the plot to the north.
No 54 has a single. first floor, two-over-two pane sash window set close under the eaves above a later C20 shop front, which is not of historic interest, which extends forward of the historic front wall which has been removed at ground floor level. No 56 has a shallow, probably late C19, projecting bay beneath a half-hipped roof. The upper floor, in red brick in Flemish bond beneath a Horsham slate roof, has plain timber bargeboards and a four-light timber sash. The ground floor is dominated by a later C20 shopfront (not of historic interest) which extends southwards to the party wall and replaces the historic front wall.
Rear range, No. 54A
The ground floor of the west-facing elevation is clad in red brick in Sussex bond and stretcher bond and has a C20 two-light, metal-framed casement beneath a shallow cambered arch and enlarged timber casements. The entrance, to the southernmost bay, has a C20 glazed door. The first floor is clad in alternating bands of plain and fish-scale tiles and has three-light timber casements either side of a small two-light casement. The upper floor of the gable wall has exposed box framing with rendered panels, to the right of a large, offset, external brick stack, of which the lower courses are in Sussex bond, the upper stage partly rebuilt in stretcher bond, the offset tile hung. To the left of the stack the upper floor is tile-hung, above an added porch, and has a small gable window in the roof space adjacent to the stack above a two-light first floor timber casement. A large internal stack, rising through the south-west facing roof slope, is rectangular on plan with grouped square flues and a moulded collar.
Front range: the ground floor of the northern bay (No 54) has a few reused components from an exposed timber frame. The shop extends to the rear where the northern timber-framed wall of no 54A is exposed. On the upper floor (now part of 54A) the exposed timber frame has jowled posts, arch braced at the angles from the posts to the mid-rail and a stop-chamfered axial beam with a one and a half inch chamfer. The south-western post, adjacent of to the door, is of heavier scantling suggesting it is a survival of an earlier building. Two-light window with diamond mullion.
The ground floor of the central and southern bays (no 56) has been rebuilt and incorporates a later single-storey extension to the south that lacks evidence of historic fabric. Below the building is a small shallow cellar offset for the main range (not seen). On the first floor, where visible, the timber frame also has jowled posts and a formerly external timber-framed gable wall to the south. The wall plate and axial beam are chamfered similarly to no 54. The roof above the front range was not fully accessible but where visible is of side purlin construction, but with a proportion of replaced rafters.
Rear range, No. 54A
Exposed timber frame on external walls and to internal partitions, creating a narrow passage parallel to the north wall where there is a C19 staircase with slender square newels, stick balusters, two per tread, and shaped tread ends. The ground floor axial beam has been boxed in; the first floor has horizontally proportioned chamfered ceiling beams. The ground floor has stone flag floors. The former inglenook fireplace opening to the main stack has been remodelled in the C20. This room has largely later C19 or early C20 fitted cupboards, a four-panel door in a later C18 or early C19 moulded architrave; elsewhere there are plank doors or interwar panel doors. In the roofspace, a side purlin roof with raking struts and a proportion of replaced softwood rafters has a closed truss with lath and plaster panels between the central and outer bay, an internal stack of narrow red-brown brick and closely spaced boards to the first floor ceiling to the innermost bay.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.