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High Trees Farmhouse

A Grade II Listed Building in Polstead, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.0198 / 52°1'11"N

Longitude: 0.8912 / 0°53'28"E

OS Eastings: 598477

OS Northings: 239656

OS Grid: TL984396

Mapcode National: GBR SLL.B42

Mapcode Global: VHKFD.DHHG

Plus Code: 9F422V9R+WF

Entry Name: High Trees Farmhouse

Listing Date: 10 July 1980

Last Amended: 7 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1037082

English Heritage Legacy ID: 277033

Location: Polstead, Babergh, Suffolk, CO6

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Polstead

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Polstead St Mary

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich

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Farmhouse dating to the C16 or C17 and extended to the north in the early C19.


Farmhouse dating to the C16 or C17 and extended to the north in the early C19.

MATERIALS: the earlier C16 or C17 part of the house is timber-framed and re-fronted in gault brick laid in Flemish bond; the west elevation is plastered. The early-C19 north extension is constructed of gault brick laid in Flemish bond, except the west elevation which is red brick laid in the same bond. The roofs are covered in red, plain clay tiles.

PLAN: the original timber-framed house has an L-shaped plan with an east range aligned north-south and a south cross wing aligned east-west. The early-C19 extension forms a north cross wing aligned east-west. On the south side of this, at the west end, there is a later C19 extension under a catslide roof.

EXTERIOR: the house has two-storeys and an attic under steeply pitched roofs; the south cross wing being hipped at the east end. Large gault brick chimney stacks with oversailing brick courses rise through the centre of the ridge on the south cross wing, and at the junction of the east range and north cross wing. The principal three-bay east elevation has a centrally placed gabled entrance porch which is not original. The front door has two lower panels and six glazed upper panels. It is flanked by eight-over-eight pane sash windows, set flush in the wall, with slender wooden glazing bars and stone wedge-shaped lintels. The first-floor windows do not have lintels as they are positioned up against the eaves. The window above the door is a six-over-six pane sash. There are two, six-light, flat-headed dormer windows, wholly within the roof space, the one on the right dates to the late C20/early C21. The gable end of the north cross wing projects on the right hand side of the elevation. It has decorative bargeboards and is lit by eight-over-eight pane sashes with wedge-shaped lintels on the ground and first floors, and a three-over-six pane sash in the attic.

The three-bay south elevation is lit by similar eight-over-eight pane sashes in both end bays, and a six-over-six pane sash in the first-floor central bay. Below this there is a bricked up doorway. The west elevation consists of, from the left, the red brick gable end of the north cross wing which has late C20 French windows, a six-over-six pane sash on the first floor, and a two-over-two pane sash above, all under segmental brick arches. The gable end has a catslide roof over a later C19 extension on the right hand side. The west elevation of the adjoining east range also has a catslide roof which sweeps down to the ground floor. This is lit by two three-light windows with wooden mullions, dating to the late-C20 restoration, followed by a six-panel door with two small glazed upper panels. On the right, the projecting gable end of the south cross wing is lit by a canted bay window, dating to the early C21, and a three-over-six pane sash above on the left. The irregular north elevation has, from the left, a six-over-six pane sash window, a late C20 three-light horizontal window, a four-panel door with glazed upper panels under a lattice-work gabled porch, a small three-light window, also late C20 in date, and a blocked up window, all under gauged gault brick arches. The first floor is lit by three six-over-six pane sashes and the attic by a small rooflight.
INTERIOR: the east range contains part of what may have been the original external west wall frame with surviving studs, a primary diagonal brace and weathered mid-rail. The timber studs in what is now the external west wall were reset during the late C20 restoration using timber from elsewhere in the house. The principal room occupying the north end of the east range retains large square floor tiles, and a wide inglenook lined in brick with flanking seats which have arm rests. The C18 wooden surround has a mantelpiece with a delicate reverse ogee moulding. The original staircase was possibly located to the right of the inglenook. The room has a substantial chamfered bridging beam, and a moulded spine beam and joists. The cellar, located at the south end of the east range, has low brick benches for laying barrels of beer, and built-in wooden shelves.

The south cross wing contains a late Georgian straight-leg staircase with stick balusters and a scrolled mahogany handrail. The tread ends are replacements as the original ones had rotted. The west room has a substantial spine beam with a double roll moulding. The fireplace opening is lined with Tudor brick, and has a late-C20 Georgian-style surround and York stone paved hearth. The window on the south wall is etched with the name of one of the Strutts who lived in the house in the early C19. The east room has two encased bridging beams and a large fireplace opening with a cambered bressumer of C16 or C17 date. The jambs of the original surround have been truncated.

In the principal first-floor room of the east range, part of the west wall frame comprising studs, primary diagonal bracing and wall plate is exposed, along with the roughly hewn spine beam and bridging beam. The brick fireplace, located above the inglenook, has an arched opening and a concave back. In the south cross wing, the east room has an encased beam. In the west room the exposed framing includes a spine beam with double roll moulding, bridging beam, western wall plate, a tie beam along the north wall, and principal post in the north-west corner. It has been partitioned to create two rooms, one of which retains a late Georgian swan’s nest hobgrate. The door in the partition wall has a spring latch of the same date. It is possible that more of the timber frame survives throughout the house beneath the plastered walls.

The roof in the east range is ceiled above the collar rafters, which are C20 in date, and retains two purlins and a pair of rafters. The roof above the south cross wing may have been replaced when the house was re-fronted and extended in the early C19. It is a principal rafter roof with clasped purlins and collar beams.

The early-C19 north cross wing has a late-C20 fitted kitchen, and the rooms upstairs do not retain any fireplaces or other original features.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached to the north-east corner of the farmhouse and running along its east side, there is a low brick plinth surmounted by iron railings with fleur-de-lys finials, of probable early C19 date The four-sided gate posts are embellished with ironwork in geometric patterns and surmounted by sunken pyramidal caps.

A tall red-brick wall with a shallow plinth, of probable C18 or early C19 date, encloses the north and west sides of the garden. The north wall is laid in Flemish bond, capped in brick, and has shallow buttresses at regular intervals. The west wall has saddleback coping and is laid in a variation of Flemish garden wall bond with courses of two stretchers between each pair of headers. It has a plank and batten door at the south end and then tapers downwards.


Analysis of existing listed farm buildings of all types indicates that the period between 1500 and 1700 was significant for the numbers of farmsteads developed within the county, particularly in central and north-east Suffolk. A small number of pre-1500 survivals are thinly scattered throughout the county, whilst post-1700 buildings are more evenly distributed from the west to the coastal areas with the exception of the southern part of Suffolk Coastal District. The varied patterns of land tenure, from the post-Dissolution distribution of monastic lands to the carefully-planned C19 estate developments in the east of the county resulted in different phases of investment and development at different times.

Different soil conditions meant that certain areas were better suited to cereal production, whilst others, notably in the coastal districts where lighter soils predominate, favoured livestock grazing, with a much smaller proportion of the land ploughed to produce feed crops. These different regimes required different types of buildings: in east Suffolk, an area where dairy farming produced great wealth, large-scale storage facilities for arable crops was far less likely to be needed than it was in the west of the county where grain production predominated, and where large barns were needed.
The size and relative wealth of the farm holding, whether owned or tenanted, also influenced the level of investment in farm buildings. The late enclosure of land in the east of the county led to the development of new planned farmsteads by large estates. Most other areas of Suffolk were farmed by yeoman farmers who were more likely to extend and adapt existing buildings rather than engage in wholesale redevelopment. In many parts of the county, therefore, there is a significantly high rate of survival of pre-C18 farm buildings and farm houses.

The period between 1770 and 1870 was the most significant phase of farm building development throughout England. Rising grain prices from the 1760s into the early C19, and the impact of agricultural improvement brought about a significant change in the extent of arable production in Suffolk, accompanied by further investment in farm buildings of all types – not only barns, but also stables, granaries and buildings and enclosures for livestock.

The farmhouse and granary at High Trees Farm date to the C16 or C17 and are the oldest buildings on the farmstead. In the will of the wool merchant Thomas Spring of Newstead Manor, dated 1523, the property was left to John Spring of Hitcham. It passed to Richard Bran of Boxford and then to his son John who died in 1610. After this the farmstead belonged to Thomas Fones and his son Samuel who left it to his granddaughter Alice Haw in 1703. By the early C19 the farmstead had been acquired by the Strutt family who, it is thought, re-fronted the farmhouse and added the north extension onto the original L-shaped timber-framed house. The U-shaped farmhouse is shown on the 1840 Tithe map, along with the granary and the early C19 threshing barn. The stable was added in the mid-C19. On the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886 the farmhouse is shown to have been enlarged with an addition to the north extension at the west end on the south side.

The farmhouse was restored in the late C20, which involved some alterations. In the early C19 north extension, the dairy at the western end was opened up to create a larger kitchen area, and French windows were inserted in the west wall. The copper and bread oven was removed to create an arched opening to a small room at the east end of the kitchen. Numerous door openings were blocked or created throughout the house. The dormer window on the right hand side of the east elevation is a later insertion, and the bay window in the room occupying the south-west corner was added around ten years ago, replacing a door and window.

Reasons for Listing

High Trees Farmhouse, dating to the C16 or C17, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* it originated in the C16 or C17 and continued to evolve into the C19, thus providing important evidence of building practices and techniques – from timber framing to brickwork – over three or four centuries;

* it has numerous internal features of particular note, such as ceilings with chamfered and moulded beams, an inglenook with built-in seats, and a Tudor brick-lined fireplace.

Group value:
* it has strong group value with the granary, stable and threshing barn, all listed at Grade II, which altogether form a significant group representative of traditional forms of construction and farming practice.

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