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Balcombe Place

A Grade II* Listed Building in Balcombe, West Sussex

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Latitude: 51.0455 / 51°2'43"N

Longitude: -0.1134 / 0°6'48"W

OS Eastings: 532345

OS Northings: 129042

OS Grid: TQ323290

Mapcode National: GBR KMS.85F

Mapcode Global: FRA B6NC.1NJ

Plus Code: 9C3X2VWP+5J

Entry Name: Balcombe Place

Listing Date: 26 April 1977

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1025775

English Heritage Legacy ID: 302346

ID on this website: 101025775

Location: Mid Sussex, RH17

County: West Sussex

District: Mid Sussex

Civil Parish: Balcombe

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Balcombe

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Tagged with: Building English country house

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Country House, in a Tudor style, built in 1856 by Henry Clutton for John Hankey of Naylands. There is single-storey music room in a similar style to the south-west, added in 1899 by the architect Gerald Callcott Horsley.


Country House, in a Tudor style, built in 1856 by Henry Clutton for John Hankey of Naylands. There is single-storey music room in a similar style to the south-west, added in 1899 by the architect Gerald Callcott Horsley.

MATERIALS: limestone ashlar with stringcourse. The roofs are tiled, with tall brick stacks in Tudor style. The casement windows have stone mullions and transoms, and some retain their leaded lights.

PLAN: the plan is irregular, with the main rang on a west/east axis, having a projecting wing to the north-east, and the music room projecting to the west. Attached to the north-east is the C-plan stable range, now converted to offices.

EXTERIOR: the symmetrical south front is of three storeys, and is five windows wide. The end window-bays project with gables over surmounted by finials, with crenellated canted bays of seven lights each on ground and first floors; there are three gabled dormers between. The ground-floor windows have hood-moulds. The north-west front is more irregular in shape and has a porte-cochere. The music room has a large semi-circular bay to the south, and a crenellated parapet.

INTERIOR: the interior has a good staircase of 1856; excellent panelling of that date in the music room of 1899 was noted in 1977. The drawing room has an imposing marble chimneypiece with Ionic columns, and decorative plasterwork to the ceiling.


Balcombe Place was built in 1856 for John Alexander Hankey of nearby Naylands (qv). The architect was Henry Clutton. The music room was added in 1899 by the architect G C Horsley, with other small additions being made at about the same time. The building’s footprint is now much as it was at the publication of the Ordnance Survey map in 1910. During the Second World War the house became the administrative headquarters of the Women’s Land Army. Since the war, Balcombe Place has been used as a boys’ school (1955-76) and as a conference centre; the house has been a residential care home since 1985. The stable range, forming a courtyard to the north-east, was converted to offices in 2009.

Balcombe Place was the home of Lady Gertrude Denman (1884-1954) from 1905 until the end of her life. Lady Denman – known as Trudy – was the first chairman of the Women’s Institute, holding the post from the formation of the Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1917, until 1946. Active in many areas of women’s welfare, in 1930 Lady Denman helped found and became chairman of the National Birth Control (later Family Planning) Association, and from 1938 she co-ordinated the re-establishment of the Women’s Land Army.

The Women’s Institute began in Britain in response to the need for increased food production during the First World War. The movement had started in Canada in 1897, and it was a Canadian, Madge Watt, who was charged with establishing British WIs under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society; Lady Denman was the chairman of the subcommittee responsible for the project. The first WI in Britain was founded at Llanfairpwll on 16 September 1915, and the first in England on 9 November that year; by the end of 1918 there were 199 WIs in Britain. The movement continues to flourish, with about 6,600 branches, and 212,000 members, providing women from all walks of life with opportunities for education, social activities, and campaigning. This List amendment was made in 2015, the Women’s Institute centenary year.

Reasons for Listing

*Architectural: as a country house of 1856 in a confident and imaginative Tudor style, by the distinguished architect Henry Clutton;
*Interior: the interior retains a number of original features, including chimneypieces, panelling and plasterwork;
*Historical: for its association with Lady Gertrude Denman, first chairman of the Women’s Institute; during the Second World War Lady Denman lent the house to the Women’s Land Army as its administrative headquarters.

External Links

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