History in Structure

The Fox Goes Free

A Grade II Listed Building in Singleton, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9099 / 50°54'35"N

Longitude: -0.7374 / 0°44'14"W

OS Eastings: 488866

OS Northings: 113024

OS Grid: SU888130

Mapcode National: GBR DFW.SGS

Mapcode Global: FRA 96BP.Y91

Plus Code: 9C2XW757+W3

Entry Name: The Fox Goes Free

Listing Date: 28 January 1986

Last Amended: 5 November 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1354592

English Heritage Legacy ID: 301183

ID on this website: 101354592

Location: Charlton, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester

Civil Parish: Singleton

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: East Dean, Singleton and West Dean

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Tagged with: Pub Hotel

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Inn, mainly C17, though thought to have C16 origins, and with additions and alterations of subsequent centuries.


Inn, mainly C17, though thought to have C16 origins, and with additions and alterations of subsequent centuries.

MATERIALS: flint, with brick banding and dressings, and some stone quoining. The roofs are tiled, and the stacks are brick. The wooden window frames are C21 replacements.

PLAN: the main C17 range is on a north-south axis, facing into forecourt, with a wing to the north-east enclosing the north side, extended by the former laundry and outbuilding range. There is a former bakehouse projecting from the south-west corner of the main range. Projecting from the north-west corner is an addition, probably C18, with a stable block to the north, and a lean-to annexe filling the space between north-west and south-west projections.

EXTERIOR: the main range is of two storeys, under a hipped roof, with cambered-arched openings to the ground floor. The quoins to the south end are of substantial blocks of dressed limestone – possibly re-used from an earlier building, or surviving from an earlier phase – with brick continuing into the upper storey. The principal, east-facing, elevation is of three bays, with a central entrance, and a blocked door opening to the south. The planked door is C20. The windows, to north and south, are regularly positioned, but of irregular sizes, with casements to the ground floor and sashes to the first floor. The north-east wing is slightly lower, under a pitched roof; its south-facing elevation has a cambered-arched doorway to the east containing a planked door, with a large ground-floor casement to the west and a sash window above. Attached to the east end of the north-east range is a single-storey outbuilding range of two units, now converted to bedroom use, with new casement windows and planked doors to south and north; there is a brick buttress towards the west end of the south elevation. In the pub’s south elevation, the south end of the main range has a doorway to the west, with a casement window to the east and a central casement above. Attached to the south-west is the former bakehouse, with a single window at high-level. The bakehouse projection is extended in the same plane by a C19 block with a window on the western side; a slate roof covers both sections. The western elevation of the main range is obscured by C18 and C19 additions; these house the kitchens, and have modern windows. The north elevation has a C20 entrance with flanking lights in the end of the main range; to the east is the blind north wall of the eastern wing, and to the west is the former stable block, converted to restaurant space, with inserted windows.

INTERIOR: internally the main range has a lobby-entry plan form, with a central stack serving a room to the north and one to the south, with a small lobby at the entrance. The entrance lobby is paved with brick, with C18 plank and batten doors leading to the rooms. The room to the south, now the restaurant, contains the timber framework of a screen, which formerly divided the space to west and east, with a central opening. The brickwork of the small chimney opening is exposed. A doorway at the south-west end of the restaurant leads to the former bakehouse, which retains its brick bread oven with heating chamber below. In the room to the north of the lobby – now the snug bar – is an exposed axial beam; both this and the joists are chamfered with scroll stops. The fireplace is an inglenook, lined with brick and with a plain timber surround; within this is an iron fireback decorated with grapes and fleur-de-lys, carrying the date 1588, possibly connected with the site, but not integral to the fireplace in its current form. The north end of the range contains the main bar, with a number of early-C20 fittings, including the bar itself. A plaque on the wall commemorates the Women’s Institute meeting of 9 November 1915. A timber screen with brickwork to the lower part divides the main bar from the ‘Hat Rack Bar’ in the north-east wing, which has early-C20 dado panelling, and a rebuilt inglenook fireplace. Timber posts with elaborate carved chamfer stops, supporting the ceiling in this area, are thought to date from the C20, and are also found in the converted stable to the north-west. The ground floor of the south-western part of the building is occupied by the kitchen, which does not retain historic features. The stair, in a projection at the centre of the west elevation, leads to a passage running southwards along the west side of the main range, with three rooms opening to the east. In the northern room in this range, the timber framing of the walls are exposed, as are the beams – with scroll-stopped chamfers – and the chamfered joists. In this room is small C19 fireplace with a hob-grate; the two-panel door with raised and fielded panels and H-hinges is probably C18. The other two rooms have fewer historic features. Towards the north end of the range, a passageway gives access to the north-east wing and northernmost room. The northernmost room has C18 panelling with recessed panels on two walls. The eastern wing contains a single room, open to the collars of the roof trusses: there are three trusses, the easternmost one having an arched collar, whilst the other collars are straight. The brick chimney stack rises against the eastern wall of the room, with a small opening and no fire surround. The roof over the northern section of the main range is of common rafter type, with roughly-hewn rafters morticed and tenoned at the apex, supporting a ridge piece. The roof has undergone considerable adaptation towards the north, with the insertion of additional timbers. The roof over the north-west wing is of similar type, though with less substantial timbers, with some pegged timbers, and some replacement. The former laundry and outbuilding range has been converted to provide hotel accommodation; the interior is not of special interest.*

*Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act of 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.


The building now known as The Fox Goes Free has its origins in the C16, though the main part of the building is of C17 date. Formerly known as The Pig and Whistle, the name of the inn was changed to The Fox in reference to the celebrated Charlton Hunt, which was founded by the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Grey of Uppark in the 1670s and flourished as the most fashionable hunt in England until 1750. In 1730 the Master of the Hunt, the 2nd Duke of Richmond, built his Palladian hunting lodge, Fox Hall (listed at Grade II*) at Charlton. Besides its role as an inn, the building served as the village’s bakery, and shop, with a separate entrance from the road. The current name of the pub dates from 1985, when it became a free house.

On 9 November 1915 the first Women’s Institute meeting in England was held at The Fox by the Singleton and East Dean Women’s Institute. The meeting took place in the pub’s back room, in the north-east wing, now known as the Hat Rack Bar. The inn-keeper of The Fox at that time was a woman and founder member – Mrs Laishley – which may have helped make the pub a welcoming venue for Women’s Institute meetings; the newly-opened village hall at Singleton, where the WI now meets, was at that time for the use of men only. Early WI meetings frequently took place in places such as schools, and private or public houses; after the war, the WI was instrumental in setting up village halls, for community activities, whilst many WIs established their own buildings, sometimes re-using existing structures; army surplus huts, for example, or Nonconformist chapels.

The Women’s Institute began in Britain in response to the need for increased food production during the First World War, through providing the education and organisation through which the skill and labour of women could be made most effective. 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. The first WI in Britain was founded at Llanfairpwll, Wales on 16 September 1915, and 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

The Fox Goes Free, Charlton, an inn dating mainly from the C17, though thought to have C16 origins, and with additions and alterations of subsequent centuries, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as a building of mainly C17 date, with much fabric remaining from that time, and C18 and C19 additions, being characteristic of its locality in the use of flint, brick, and timber;
* Intactness: the building is largely intact externally, and retains its lobby-entry plan form, as well as internal features including chamfered beams, joinery, and a bakehouse with bread oven;
* Historical interest: as the location for the first Women’s Institute meeting in England, in November 1915;
* Historical interest: for its long history as a village inn, having associations with the famous Charlton Hunt in the C17 and C18, and serving as the village’s bakery;
* Group value: with a large number of listed buildings in Charlton, including the former farmhouse immediately to the west, and former farm buildings to the south-east; at the south-east edge of the village is Fox Hall.

External Links

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