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Top Farm Farmhouse

A Grade II Listed Building in Dalbury Lees, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.9067 / 52°54'24"N

Longitude: -1.6064 / 1°36'22"W

OS Eastings: 426571

OS Northings: 334440

OS Grid: SK265344

Mapcode National: GBR 5CK.NPV

Mapcode Global: WHCFT.969G

Entry Name: Top Farm Farmhouse

Listing Date: 19 December 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1441724

Location: Dalbury Lees, South Derbyshire, Derbyshire, DE6

County: Derbyshire

District: South Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Dalbury Lees

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Dalbury All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby

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Farmhouse built in the early C19.


Farmhouse built in the early C19.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond on the principal S elevation and in an indeterminate bond on the N face. Stone and brick dressings and slate roof covering.

PLAN: the S-facing farmhouse has a rectangular, double-pile plan with a late-C19 extension on the E gable end. A C20 lean-to entrance hall/porch occupies the angle in between. The N elevation faces onto a yard enclosed by a long L-shaped agricultural range. The other farm buildings date to the C20 and were not included in the assessment.

EXTERIOR: the two-storey, three-bay farmhouse has a shallow hipped roof with wide eaves and brick chimney stacks with tall octagonal clay pots on the gable ends. The principal, ‘polite’, S elevation has a central front door (boarded up) with a wedge-shaped stone lintel, and is flanked by a window on both floors. The windows are eight-over-eight pane sashes with slender glazing bars which form into pointed arches in the upper sash. They also have wedge-shaped lintels and projecting stone sills. On the right, the late-C19 two-storey service extension is slightly recessed and has a lower, pitched roof with a wide brick gable stack. It is unrelieved by any apertures. On the gable end there is a lean-to, housing an outdoor privy, which has a plain wooden door frame (the door has been removed). In the return wall of the lean-to there is a small opening in a plain wooden frame just above ground level. The return wall of the extension is blind. The left return wall of the farmhouse is lit by a small, four-pane casement window in the centre of the ground floor.

On the N-facing service elevation, the brickwork on the ground floor shows some signs of repair. The first bay on the ground floor is lit by a six-over-six pane sash window which retains external shutters. The window in the third bay is boarded over but appears to be wider. Both have gauged brick arches. The first floor is lit by two-light casements with slender wooden glazing bars, and a small window with iron glazing bars in the central bay, all with segmental brick arches. On the right, the C20 lean-to has a vertical timber plank door and a sliding door to its right. Behind this, the C19 service extension is lit on the ground floor by a wide three-light window with wooden glazing bars under a segmental brick arch. The top floor is lit by two two-light casement windows with wooden lintels and sills.

INTERIOR: the farmhouse has a double-pile plan in which the service rooms occupy the N pile, and the reception rooms the S pile. The ground and first floors have four rooms, one in each corner. The C20 lean-to on the N side provides access both to the farmhouse and to the service extension through doors with four flush panels and upright handles under segmental brick arches. The service rooms have plank and batten doors with strap hinges. The former kitchen, which occupies the NE corner of the farmhouse, has a black and red quarry tiled floor, and a chamfered bridging beam with lamb’s tongue stop, and joists. There is a wide opening with a timber lintel and brick jambs for the former range or open grate, and to the left a built-in cupboard with panelled sliding doors. Next to the kitchen, in the NE corner, is the dairy which has a chamfered bridging beam and joists, a brick floor and white-washed walls. Shallow arched brick thralls, in white render, line the walls on three sides. The cellar has low brick benches. The C19 service extension has ceiling joists and a brick floor, and retains the bread oven, hot water copper, and glazed ceramic shallow sink on brick supports. The outdoor privy consists of a wooden box with a square wooden seat.

The ‘polite’ side of the farmhouse has four-panelled doors and plain skirting boards. The floors on the ground floor are also laid in red and black quarry tiles, except the SW room has been partially carpeted which may conceal a fully-tiled floor. The wide, six-panelled front door in a moulded wooden surround leads into this room which retains a chimneypiece with a plain mantelshelf supported by shaped brackets and jambs indented with a narrow pointed arch. The fireplace has been boarded over but the grate may survive. The reception room in the SE corner has a Victorian chimneypiece with a timber surround embellished with a dentilated mantelshelf, a cast-iron hood and green tiled splayed sides. To the left there is a full-height built-in cupboard with recessed square panels.

A straight flight stair accessed from the SW reception room leads to the first floor. The two rear bedrooms retain no features except for a small built-in cupboard with a plank and batten door and strap hinges in the north-east room. The two front bedrooms have fireplaces with plain timber surrounds and early C19 hob grates. There is a narrow, unlit room in between these bedrooms. The loss of some plaster on the E wall reveals it to be constructed of brick, lath and plaster, but it has been strengthened by vertical timber posts and one horizontal post.

The service stair leads up from the kitchen to two rooms which do not retain any features except for the landing banister which has stick balusters and a chamfered square newel post with finial.

The C19 roof consists of king post trusses with purlins, and replacement rafters.


Top Farm is situated in Dalbury Lees, a hamlet in the parish of Dalbury, located about six miles from Derby. In the reign of Edward II, Dalbury and Lees were the property of Sir Robert Holland; and both places were then held by Sir Samuel Sleigh, who died in 1679. They passed with his daughter and co-heiress to Samuel Cheetham, and on that gentleman's death, without issue, to Rowland Cotton of Bellaport, in Shropshire, who had married the other co-heiress. In 1848 Dalbury Lees had 221 inhabitants and the parish was described in A Topographical Dictionary of England as ‘picturesque’ and ‘beautifully diversified with hill and dale’.

Little is known about the history of Top Farm and its inhabitants. The architectural evidence indicates that it was built in the early C19 with a contemporary range of agricultural buildings. The earliest available map of the area is the Henry Stevens Ordnance Survey drawing sheet of Tutbury dated 1828 which shows a building on the site of Top Farm. The Tithe map of Dalbury (1839) depicts a building with an attached extension projecting from the south-eastern end which is very likely to be the service range extension. Farm outbuildings are located to the N and E. The first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1881 shows two small outbuildings, possibly coal stores or other storage buildings, on the E of the farmhouse. The long, L-shaped range of agricultural buildings is to the N, creating a yard in between. The second edition OS map of 1901 shows several small outbuildings added to those on the E side of the farmhouse. There is no change on the third edition map of 1922 or the 1970 map. Since then, the small outbuildings to the E of the farmhouse have been removed, and a lean-to providing an entrance hall/porch to the farmhouse has been added in the NE angle between the main house and later C19 extension. The farmhouse has been unoccupied since 2015 and is in a bad state of disrepair (2016).

Reasons for Listing

The farmhouse at Top Farm, built in the early C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a good example of its type, characterised by a plan form and architectural treatment that clearly delineate its use and the social hierarchy of its inhabitants;

* Preservation: the survival of its plan form, fixtures and fittings, particularly those associated with the services, provides a valuable picture of the workings of a typical farmhouse of the period;

* Historic interest: it was built during the most significant period of agricultural development in England which resulted in a wealthier yeoman class whose gentrification was reflected in their farmhouses;

* Context: the contemporary range comprising shelter sheds, cow house and barn, whilst too altered to be listed, provide an important architectural and historic context for the farmhouse.

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