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Barnfield Cottages, pump, front wall and entrance gates

A Grade II Listed Building in St. Mary, South Elmham otherwise Homersfield, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.421 / 52°25'15"N

Longitude: 1.3594 / 1°21'33"E

OS Eastings: 628524

OS Northings: 285640

OS Grid: TM285856

Mapcode National: GBR WLC.8HC

Mapcode Global: VHL95.JD0Y

Plus Code: 9F43C9C5+9Q

Entry Name: Barnfield Cottages, pump, front wall and entrance gates

Listing Date: 12 November 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1416636

Location: St. Mary, South Elmham Otherwise Homersfield, East Suffolk, Suffolk, IP20

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: St. Mary, South Elmham otherwise Homersfield

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Homersfield St Mary

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich

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Almshouses built c.1925-27 to the designs of Maurice Chesterton.


Almshouses built c.1925-27 to the designs of Maurice Chesterton.

MATERIALS: brick, painted pale pink, and roof covering of reed thatch.

PLAN: the almshouses face south-east onto the road and are accessed through low entrance gates. The building contains six cottages arranged in a shallow U-shape plan with a pump in the centre.

EXTERIOR: the single-storey almshouses are in the Picturesque revival style. The building has a low, half-hipped thatched roof, the ridge of which has a further thickness of reed with a scalloped edge and pattern of sways. Six tall red brick chimney stacks with oversailing courses rise from the ridge, most of which have either been repaired or rebuilt to the original design. The long central range of the U-shape plan consists of four three-bay cottages which are reached via a shallow flight of semi-circular steps, some of the bricks of which have been repaired or replaced. The original timber front doors have six glazed upper panels and retain their cast-iron handles and letter boxes. They are sheltered under porches which have half-conical thatched roofs supported by two square timber pillars, and fitted timber benches on each side. The front doors are flanked by three-light casement windows, positioned directly under the eaves, with tile sills. The windows have plastic faced metal frames replicating the original leaded lights, and have timber shutters, painted white, which are pierced at the top by a single diamond shape. The two end cottages have two windows on the inner face, and the short return wall is lit by a four-light casement window with a keyed, semi-circular brick relieving arch. The front doors are situated on the rear elevations of these two cottages, and are flanked by two uPVC windows which do not have the replica leaded lights. The rear elevations of the four middle cottages are subsidiary. Flat-roofed brick porches have been built at a later date with stairs up to the back doors which have nine glazed upper panels. The windows are uPVC.

INTERIOR: only nos 94 and 95 were inspected internally (2013). The front doors open into a small hall with a tiled floor, flanked by a sitting room and bedroom, with a kitchen and bathroom behind, both with modern fittings. Most of the plank and batten doors and fitted cupboard doors survive with their iron latches and strap hinges. There are tiled window sills, and a dado rail in the bedroom of no. 94. The original fireplaces have been removed and lower ceilings have been inserted.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the pump in the centre of the U-shaped almshouses is set on a circular brick base. It is sheltered by a conical thatched canopy supported by four square timber pillars. Opposite the pump to the south-east is a low, red brick wall and square gate piers (now overgrown) with timber gates.


Almshouses were established in the Middle Ages as charitable foundations to care for the elderly, poor and infirm. Each had a warden, master or prior and consisted of an infirmary hall and chapel, similar in plan to a monastic infirmary. Most almshouses or hospitals, as they were also known, were dissolved as places of worship in 1547 but were re-established by the Elizabethans as refuges for the poor or elderly. The almshouse tradition remained strong throughout the C19 and into the early C20.

Barnfield Cottages were built c.1925-27 by the Shafto-Adair family for retired workers from their Flixton Estate. The architect was Maurice Chesterton who has one other listed building to his name: The Node Court in Codicote, Hertfordshire (1928), a model dairy in the Picturesque revival style that set standards for hygiene and efficient dairy farming in England. Barnfield Cottages have undergone some changes since they were built. The windows have been replaced with plastic faced metal frames, some of the chimney stacks have been rebuilt, and low walls have been built leading to the two central cottages. Internally, lower ceilings have been inserted, some of the fireplaces have been removed, and modern kitchens and bathrooms have been fitted.

Reasons for Listing

Barnfield Cottages, almshouses built c.1925-27 to the designs of Maurice Chesterton, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the thatched almshouses with their timber gates and conical pump canopy form a picturesque composition of considerable aesthetic appeal. The low reed thatched roof with its scalloped ridge, the tall chimney stacks and timber window shutters all convey the visual qualities of homeliness and comfort that are integral to the character of this building type;
* Design: the design demonstrates a thoughtfulness in its details, such as the fitted benches in the porches which allow both for easy and sheltered access to fresh air and for the companionship of neighbours;
* Architect: although little is known about Maurice Chesterton, he was evidently an accomplished architect. His only other listed building, The Node at Codicote in Hertfordshire, which he designed the year after the almshouses, is a highly original and innovative dairy farm in the same picturesque manner with an immense and impressive thatched roof. His hand adds significantly to the architectural interest of Barnfield Cottages;
* Interior: the two cottages that have been inspected (2013) retain their plan form and a high proportion of good quality joinery.

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