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Great House Farmhouse, Southwater

Description: Great House Farmhouse

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 27 November 1980
English Heritage Building ID: 299280

OS Grid Reference: TQ1531726931
OS Grid Coordinates: 515317, 126931
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0302, -0.3569

Location: Shipley, West Sussex RH13 7DT

Locality: Southwater
Local Authority: Horsham District Council
County: West Sussex
Country: England
Postcode: RH13 7DT

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Listing Text


Farmhouse. Late C15/early C16 core, extensively rebuilt later C16 (fireplace bressumer dated 1575) and early to mid-C17, modified later C17 (bressumer dated 1677, stair dated 1678). Extended and modernised late C19 or early C20; refurbished later C20. Historically part of the Fletcher estate, now the Aubrey Fletcher Trust.

Reason for Listing

Great House Farmhouse, Southwater, later C16 to later C17, built on an earlier site, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: accumulated evidence of a high status building of unusual plan and high quality construction, fixtures and fittings, which provide a dated sequence for this important period of domestic building in England;
* Construction: drop tie beam roof, a fully-resolved example of a local sequence of roof types;
* Intactness: of particular note: two set of stairs, one dated, both rising from ground floor to attic; moulded oriel window;
* Other fixtures and fittings: fully panelled room, complete with door and door furniture; dated moulded chimneybreast; C16 to C19 doors, doorcases and fittings;
* Historic interest: the most important domestic building in the area, built on a medieval site associated with Sele Priory, bounded by moats or ponds, and set within a relict medieval landscape; associated C18 to early C20 farm buildings.


Continuous occupation of the site of Great House Farm can be traced to 1254, to Simon Terry, an assarter (a clearer of woodland to create fields for agriculture) and tenant of Sele Priory, which held the land until its early dissolution. According to the desk-based assessment (Archaeology South East, 2008) much of the present field system associated with the farm is of medieval origin. 'Terrys' including the farm later known as Great House Farm was included in Priory lands re-granted to Magdalen College, Oxford in 1480. From the C15 until the 1760s it was tenanted by the Lintott family before it descended through the female line to the Fletcher family. It continues to be owned by the Aubrey Fletcher Trust; the current tenants have leased the house and farm for five generations.

The development of the current house spans c100 years from the late C16 to late C17, probably built round the core of an earlier building. The house was enlarged and remodelled in the late C16 and dated 1575; the east-west wing was probably added in the early to mid-C17 while there were further improvements in the later C17, recorded as 1677 and 1678. An inventory related to the will of Richard Lintott (1677) summarises his assets by room and building. The Horsham Tithe Map (1844) indicates the two main ranges and a deep northern bay on the site of the current kitchen. Finally the house was extended and modernised from the later C19 to early C20 when the kitchen and larder were rebuilt and many of the farm buildings were renewed.

The farmhouse is enclosed to the north-west and east by a series of ditches or ponds. These are not parallel and do not conform to the usual rectangular plan common to moated sites and some are more likely to represent a series of fishponds. The Tithe Map (1844) also shows ponds to the south of the house that are no longer visible. The area is also known for its historic iron working and there are several bloomery sites to the north-east of the farm, along the wooded ghyll running through the centre of modern Southwater. However, there is no direct evidence of iron working associated with the site.

The farmhouse is approached from the east by a small brick bridge which crosses the pond or moat. The bridge is carried on two round arches and has brick and stone revetments. The ponds are stone-lined and were latterly used for watering the farm horses and cattle.

The current farm buildings, which date from the late C17 or early C18 to the present, lie to the south-east of the house, outside the area enclosed by ponds and ditches. The earliest of these, the barn, is one of small group of buildings marked on the Tithe Map which also shows ranges of buildings to the south and east of the house and a scatter of outbuildings to the north. Until relatively recently there were stock yards and pigsties immediately south of the farmhouse within this enclosed area. The former earth closet remains standing to the west of the house. A wall and hedge line to the west and south of the house indicate the extent of the enclosure.

Great House Farm was once known as Homeland Farm and is recorded as such on the Ordnance Survey Draft Old Series 1-inch, c1800 and the 1844 Tithe Map. It is recorded as Greathouse Farm on the OS 6-inch 1st edition map (surveyed 1875-6), a name that appears synonymous with its status as a large and prominent house.


MATERIALS: timber-framed, in-filled in wattle and daub; some brick-nogged, or faced or replaced in brick; most clad in C20 render and tile-hanging. Stone rubble south gable wall. Brick plinths, stacks, and other dressings. Horsham stone roofs, the kitchen re-roofed in tile.

PLAN: L-plan. The main range, in three-bays, two-storeys and attics, aligned roughly north-south, the secondary range in three-bays and also two-storeys and attics, aligned roughly east-west. The north-east bay, which is pivotal to both ranges appears to incorporate an earlier structure which obstructed the usual arrangement of a main range and cross-wing. There is a shallow, presumably added, cellar under this narrow corner bay, above which the floor level of the ground floor room is raised above the floor level found elsewhere in the building. Internal, transverse brick stack in central bay of main range, expressed externally in an opulent chimney. Internal transverse stack between central and western bays of cross-wing. External brick stack on an earlier base to north gable wall at north-east angle. Small stack to west wall of single-storey kitchen. In each wing, stairs behind the main stacks rise from ground floor to attic.

East elevation in three unequal bays and two-storeys, the outer bays tile-hung, the wide central section which includes two structural bays is rendered. All on a brick plinth in red, buff and burnt 2" brick, laid in Flemish bond. The plinth breaks forward slightly beneath the northern bay where it forms the outer wall of the cellar. Inserted C20 doorway to left of central window. The rear, west elevation, which is fully rendered, and also on a brick plinth, has a stair window to the central bay and entrance in the northern bay. The south gable wall is of stone rubble with brick quoins. The south-west angle has been rebuilt and there are repairs to the gable wall where a C20 extension has been removed. The brick chimney stack which rises prominently above the eastern elevation has grouped, facetted brick shafts with moulded caps, set on a square base.

The west and north elevations of the east-west range have an exposed timber frame in square panelling with straight angle braces and rendered panels. Lower sections of the western gable wall are in-filled and in part replaced in brick. The south elevation is fully rendered. This wing extends under the northern gable of the rebuilt north-east corner of the building. The beam supporting the attic floor is exposed beneath the wall plate on the north elevation. The west gable wall is symmetrically arranged with the window openings on each floor diminishing in size; the upper level of the attic floor has brackets for a canopy above a former window. T-plan brick stack.

North elevation. The east-west range appears to have been curtailed and is incorporated in the taller north-facing gable. This is also timber framed but tile hung to the east of the stack and rendered at ground floor level. The gable has exposed arched struts and is infilled in brick. An external stack in red and burnt blue brick is built on an earlier brick base. A former entrance at the angle with the kitchen wing has been blocked.

Throughout the house most windows are later C20 timber casements, many in earlier openings. The exception is the first floor oriel window on the north elevation. This window has a richly detailed ovolo (quarter) moulded five-light mullion and transom frame typical of the very late C16 and early C17 and is supported by plain (possibly earlier) brackets which are integral to the structure of the bay and where the vertical close-studding of the frame is symmetrically arranged beneath the window. Casements and fixed lights have diamond leaded quarries. The stair window has a similar glazing.

Later C19 or early C20 encasing of single-storey kitchen and larder, probably on the site of an earlier structure. Brick cladding in stretcher bond below eaves, replaced tile roof, external brick stack to east, formerly with adjacent bread oven.

INTERIOR: both ranges were constructed in two storeys and with fully accessible attics. To give greater head room the attic floors are supported on the frame (visible at the head of each flight of stairs) below the wall plate.

Where visible in the main range the mid-rail and wall plates are chamfered; ground floor ceiling spine and transverse beams have deep, 3” and 2" stop-chamfers. The central bay has an exposed ceiling with similar chamfered joists with moulded stops.

The main range has a substantial fireplace to the main chamber or hall with a chamfered bressumer dated and inscribed
V 1575

Above the bressumer the beam spanning the reduced opening is inscribed Anno Domini 1677, possibly added at a later date.

The northern partition wall incorporates a moulded doorcase with a chamfered base enriched with facetted ogival stops. It is likely that this was formerly external and has been reset. The door is of 12 moulded panels. Other doors, of C18 and late C19 date, are of 6 moulded panels, some raised and fielded on the inner face, and hung on HL hinges which are nailed in place.

The southern room was also heated and now has a late C19 /early C20 cast iron fireplace. The frame is covered or replaced in brick apart from the spine and transverse beams which are also chamfered with moulded stops. Cupboards built into the chimney breast have panelled doors and H and butterfly hinges. Panelled cupboard doors beneath and opposite the stair have ornate cock’s head hinges.

The dog leg stair rises from ground floor to attic. Throughout it has square newels with facetted ogival finials and drop finials (those on the lower flight are replaced), turned balusters and a moulded rail. The beam above the stairwell at first floor level is inscribed

L 1678 RL

First-floor chambers were also heated and each has a deep chamfered bressumer above a late C19 fireplace.

The east-west range also has a substantial chimney breast with chamfered bressumer. The flue is now closed but said to contain a smoking loft in the chimney that was noted in the previous list entry. The curved outer wall of the smoking chamber is visible on the first floor. The previous list entry also noted a Wealdon iron fire back with crests, an iron fire place floor and a roasting jack and spit (the latter attached to the bressumer). The spit and roasting jack remain but the fire back has been removed. Pair of chamfered spine beams with c2” chamfers and moulded stops. To the rear of the chimney breast an oak winder stair with a chamfered newel rises from ground floor to attics. At each floor the stair is enclosed behind a plank door with strap hinges. There are similar doors to ground- and first-floor rooms. Rear wall of stack and blocked doorway in internal wall of western ground floor room. Ground-floor stone flag floors.

The first-floor chamber has been subdivided by more recent partitions enclosing the stack. Intact oriel window of high quality with ovolo and hollow chamfer moulded mullions and transoms. Traces of opposing window opening on south-facing elevation at head of passage, and now replaced by a C20 window. The internal wall between the earlier and north-east bay is of slender scantling timber framing suggesting it was built when the north-east bay was added or rebuilt. Wide floor boards throughout the east-west range.

The timber frame of the ground-floor of the north-east section of the building is of heavy, late medieval type and joists are almost square in section. The ground-floor room at the north-east angle (The Oak Room) is raised above an added stone and brick-lined cellar reached by steps from the inner passage. The ground floor room is fully panelled, including a panelled door with cock’s head hinges, which leads to the rear of the C16 doorcase. Round-headed mid-C19 cast iron fireplace and grate. The first floor above has a slender scantling timber frame.

Kitchen has a trenched purlin roof and stone flag floor. Internal water pump in kitchen linked to well outside. Larder has stone shelves, tile floor; window has shutters.

Roof: the main range has a substantial three-bay butt-purlin roof with short, curving wind braces. The central collar which is also arch-braced has been cut and supported against vertical struts to allow full access to the floor space. The southern bay within the roof-space is subdivided from the central bay by a closed truss with a wattle and daub partition; the northern bay terminates in a square-panelled timber-framed wall that closes the northern extremity of this phase of the building. The north-south roof has been extended in butt-purlin construction, but at a later date, over the shallow bay at the north-east angle and envelopes the east-west roof which protrudes into it. The east-west roof is also of butt-purlin construction, with a dropped tie beam that provides full floor access, and of a type that is generally found in the area after 1580. The roof is set out in two full bays, a shallow stack bay that is divided to the west by a wattle and daub partition and a westernmost bay that appears to have been altered. Internal trusses are numbered from west to east. Stack of narrow c1” – 1 ½” brick. Original wide, board floors in both the main range and subsidiary range.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.