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Description: Priest's House
Date Listed: 22 September 1959
English Heritage Building ID: 299296
OS Grid Reference: TQ1312928910
OS Grid Coordinates: 513129, 128910
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0484, -0.3875
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965/11/354 ITCHINGFIELD VILLAGE
22-SEP-59 Priest's House
Pre-Reformation clergy house at the edge of the churchyard, later converted into almshouses and later used as a vestry. Eastern two bays of c.1500, western bay of c.1600, partially refronted in the late C18.
MATERIALS: Timberframed with wattle and daub infill, partially refronted in brick with a gabled Horsham stone slab roof with ridge brick chimneystack between the central and eastern bay. Two storeys with irregular fenestration including a diamond mullioned wooden casement and casement windows with leaded lights.
PLAN: Originally a two bay open hall with (possibly later) sleeping platform at one end and east end entry, extended by one bay to the west with smoke hood and west end entry. Two later doorcases inserted in south, one later blocked.
EXTERIOR: The framing to the two eastern bays is of thicker scantling and has pronounced curved tension braces of c.1500, but the western bay has timbers of thinner scantling, many of them sawn timbers, with diagonal tension braces of c.1600. The timberframing to the north side includes a curved brace to the central bay and plastered infill but the ground floor of the western bay has been replaced in brickwork c.1800. The eastern bay has boxframing with a diagonal tension brace and an original diamond mullioned window to the upper floor. The east side is gabled with exposed framing to the upper floor and the gable with queen posts and two curved braces to the upper floor. The corner posts have been sawn through at first floor level and underbuilt in Sussex bond brickwork with some grey headers. The upper floor and gable has brick infill. In the centre is a doorcase with plank door and gabled weatherhood on simple wooden brackets. The south side has exposed timberframing to the upper floor of the eastern two bays with two curved tension braces, partly with plastered infill, partly with brick infill. The western bay and the ground floor of the eastern bay are of brickwork. There are irregular casement windows with leaded lights, the ground floor left window with cambered opening. There is is a cambered opening to the western bay and a blocked opening to the eastern bay, probably dating from the conversion into almshouses. The western end has exposed timberframing with plastered inifill with diagonal braces and original doorcase in the centre.
INTERIOR: The two eastern bays have a clasped side-purlin roof with queen struts and collar and soot-blackened roof timbers. The eastern bay was an open hall as there is no evidence of a floor. The other bay has a north midrail with evidence of a floor, but as there is no evidence of a partition up to the top of the wallplate perhaps the floor was added later as a sleeping shelf. A pegged rail one foot below the wallplate suggests that this upper room was at one time lit by a window between the rail and the eaves. The brick fireplace was added c.1900 for its use as a vestry. There was never any internal access between the two ends of the building. The western c.1600 end was always floored and its eastern end was heated by a smoke bay constructed against the west wall of the earlier structure. This survives intact with a timber chimney with end posts, wooden bressumer and its chimney interior of wattle and daub. To the south of the smoke bay is a wooden winder staircase. The ground floor has a brick floor. The original elm first floor survives with marks which may indicate a particular carpenters' yard. There is an original clasped purlin roof, with windbraces to the west, and the west gable has a collar with central strut.
HISTORY: The building's position at the edge of the churchyard is indicative of a priest's house. It probably provided accommodation for a curate performing the duties for an absentee rector. Terriers of 1615 and 1625 record a "parsonage house with barn, stable, garden and orchard" suggesting that at that time (and perhaps earlier) there was a much larger building for the use of resident rectors. An article published in 1898 stated that the building was in use as a parish almshouse in c.1830. In 1854 it was converted into a vestry and the eastern part is still in use for this purpose. The western bay is currently unoccupied.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Priest's House is a remarkably unaltered survival of a very small two bay late medieval open hall house with Horsham slab roof, extended by one bay c.1600 and later used as two almshouses. It is of more than special interest as a rare survival of a small late medieval open hall house, now uncommon because of their unsuitability for conversion, for its very rare complete smoke bay with timber and wattle and daub chimney in the c.1600 addition, and as an example of a rare building type, the pre-Reformation priest's houses, of which comparable examples are listed grade II*.
Unpublished 2006 reports on the building by Dr Annabelle Hughes and Diana Chatwin and notes made following a visit, also in 2006, by the Wealden Buildings Group.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.