Description: Sessions House
Date Listed: 28 January 1986
English Heritage Building ID: 301074
OS Grid Reference: SZ8554893613
OS Grid Coordinates: 485548, 93613
Latitude/Longitude: 50.7358, -0.7891
Explore more of the area around Selsey, West Sussex at Explore Britain.
Former farmhouse, probably later C17 or early C18, extended and refurbished after 1908, and used as local Magistrates Court during the 1930s, giving the house its name. The house was seriously damaged by fire in August 2006.
MATERIALS: Coursed stone rubble with red and burnt brick dressings and red brick stacks. The rear wall is painted. Formerly with a long straw thatched roof. The build and contemporary alterations of c1908 are rendered on the ground floor with projecting upper floor bays clad in rough-cut weather-boarding.
PLAN: A three-bay, two-storey lobby entry house, with a stair behind the stack and small closet over the entrance. The original northern bay was redesigned as an entrance hall with a stair c1908 when the northernmost bay was added. The main stack was of T-shaped plan, but removed above the ridge after the fire.
EXTERIOR: Roadside elevation. The stone fabric is enhanced by plinths, flush storey and cill bands in brick. A replaced raised and fielded panel door under the stack is flanked on the ground floor by small-paned, five-by-four pane sashes of C19 and early C20 date in flush, exposed, moulded timber frames. The ground floor right hand frame is possibly of late C18 date. All are set in smaller brick reveals with red brick quoins and integral cambered soldier arches in slightly burnt brick. Above the entrance is a small two-light timber casement with chamfered reveals and diamond leaded lights. First floor sashes, which cut through the cill band were of five-by-three panes, but were removed after the fire. The former northern bay has an early C20 inserted doorway with chamfered brick reveals and a keystone inscribed OFH. Above the entrance is a small brick tablet inscribed R(?)H 1728. A robust oak door has applied mouldings on the outer face. The inner face is heavily studded with a circular, revolving viewing panel, probably a former lock-up or cell door and rumoured to have come from Newgate Prison which was demolished c1912. Above was a two-light casement removed after the fire of 2006. The northern bay was added after 1908. The ground floor is rendered, the projecting upper floor clad in rough-cut weather-boarding. Windows are timber casements with diamond leaded lights. The rebuilt former gable end-stack, and early C20 gable stack both had moulded collars and caps, removed to ridge level after the fire. The main stack was of T-shaped plan, with moulded collars and caps and a tall chimney pot.
The west, garden elevation. Stonework is painted. The c1908 northern extension is rendered at ground floor, with a projecting rough-cut, weather-boarded upper floor. The former central bay was altered at the time to match. Diamond leaded casements are early C20 except for the eyebrow dormer added in the 1970s, when the southernmost bay was also refurbished. Late C20 door.
The southern elevation is of coursed stone rubble with an inserted C20 doorway.
INTERIOR: The lobby entry gives onto a large brick stack exposed and restored on the northern face and with an oven on the west flank. To the rear, formerly enclosed behind an early C20 panelled alcove, is the base of a vertically-boarded, curved timber stair frame. The principal ground floor rooms and hall were lined throughout in full-height, small-framed, moulded oak panelling when the house was extended after 1908. Spine beams are encased. Door cases have moulded architraves with tall chamfered bases, doors are small-panelled, similar to the walls. The open-well closed-string oak stair has square newels with ball finials, alternate twisted and moulded balusters, and a moulded rail. The drawing room has a large four-centre arched, moulded stone chimneypiece, possibly introduced from elsewhere. A similar smaller chimneypiece is inserted in the hall and has a small inserted carved fireback. The southern bay was refurbished during the 1970s, replacing joinery on both floors.
First floor. The front wall with most of the wall plate survives. Fragments of charred uprights from timber partitions framing the original stair, and much of the partition between the second and third bays survives, with some reused chamfered timber intact. Brick stacks remain but are damaged. Fittings were formerly late C20 stripped pine, destroyed in the 2006 fire. The roof, said to be largely C20, and certainly altered on the west front, was also destroyed.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: A boundary wall also of stone and brick, to the roadside of the house, incorporates a former pump stand, fed by the adjacent well. The attached barn is separately listed (LBS 301075). To the rear are attached outbuildings.
HISTORY: Formerly known as the Old Farmhouse the house and attached barn and some of the land was sold circa 1908. It was extended and remodelled in an Arts and Crafts manner which itself is of interest as an example of historical interpretation. The former stables and granary, also listed, survive to the north converted to residential use and in separate ownership. The house forms a strong group with similar scale thatched cottages and outbuildings set on the High Street in a linear development, and forming the core of historic Selsey. During the 1930s the northern, drawing room was used as a local Magistrates Court giving the house its name.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Sessions House, a late C17 or early C18 farmhouse extended and refurbished 1908, is listed for the principal following reasons.
* Although damaged by fire in 2006, the plan and most of the original fabric survive under an early C20 refurbishment, which introduced good quality materials and fittings typical of the period and reflecting the original building.
* The house was part of a streetside farm, of which most buildings survive although some are in separate ownership.
* It is part of the core of historic Selsey, forming a strong group with other historic buildings lining the High Street.
Listing NGR: SZ8554893613
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.