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The Rookery

A Grade II Listed Building in Hailsham, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8606 / 50°51'38"N

Longitude: 0.2628 / 0°15'45"E

OS Eastings: 559344

OS Northings: 109231

OS Grid: TQ593092

Mapcode National: GBR MT2.TH8

Mapcode Global: FRA C6FT.Q5T

Plus Code: 9F22V767+74

Entry Name: The Rookery

Listing Date: 25 January 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1438502

Location: Hailsham, Wealden, East Sussex, BN27

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Hailsham

Built-Up Area: Hailsham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hailsham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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The Rookery is a C17 house, with a substantial early-C19 cross-wing.


The Rookery, a C17 house, with a substantial early-C19 cross-wing.

MATERIALS: the early part of the building is faced in red brick laid in stretcher bond and has large, unhewn blocks of stone incorporated into the brickwork. Some timber framing survives internally. The C19 cross-wing is built from red brick laid in English bond with vitrified blue brick headers. The roofs are covered in clay tiles and have brick stacks. The window frames are timber.

PLAN: occupying a large, irregular plot, the building has an L-shaped footprint, with the two main phases forming separate wings, both of two storeys. The earlier building is orientated NW to SE, and has a lobby-entry plan with a central stack; the C19 extension stands at right angles, adjoining the SE end.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation of the early part of the building faces SW onto the front garden; it terminates with a buttress on the left, and to its right is the blind gable end of the C19 cross-wing. A wide stack projects roughly centrally from the roof, beneath which a shallow entrance porch projects, with a hipped roof and a ledge and plank front door. There are irregularly sized windows to either side, and to the first floor. Above the porch a large, unhewn piece of stone is built into the masonry; there are several other such blocks elsewhere on the elevation. The roof is hipped on the NW, and continues to meet the pitch of the cross-wing on the SE.

The side elevation, facing NW, appears to have been rebuilt: it uses the same materials as the C19 cross-wing, and has a central buttress in addition to that at the corner of the SW elevation.

The rear elevation of the C17 building has a catslide roof terminating above the openings to the ground floor, and has two narrow, hipped dormers and a single-storey outshut. It is brick built with simple plank doors, some with C19 strap hinges. There is a small, tile-hung dormer to the right of the centre, and a second at the junction with the cross-wing, which is brick built with tile-hung cheeks.

The principal elevation of the C19 cross-wing faces SE. It is a formal composition of five bays, comprising a central front door with shallow timber canopy and metal consoles. Windows to the ground floor have gauged brick arches, and those to the first floor meet the eaves. Windows are six-over-six horned sashes, and have brick cills. A stack rises from each gable end.

The NE gable end has two doors to the right-hand side: one entering into the kitchen; the other into an outhouse, and there is a pair of casement windows on the first floor.

INTERIOR: the ground floor of the C17 part of the building has a room on either side of the very large central stack. Each has a large brick fireplace with a deep timber bressumer, and substantial floor frames, with wide, chamfered and stopped cross beams, positioned transversely in the SE room, and spinally in the NW, and exposed joists. To the rear, beneath the catslide, is a kitchen, ancillary rooms, and a stair hall which rises into the smaller first-floor dormer; there is a bathroom in the wider dormer. On the stair hall landing is a jowl post rising from the ground floor, and a number of other historic timbers. Internal doors are generally modern reproductions of historic plank doors. The roof structure is made up of hand-sawn and pegged coupled rafters. The southernmost of the first-floor bedrooms has a fireplace with a Tudor arched lintel.

The early-C19 cross-wing extension has a two-room plan with a central stair, and a chimneystack on either gable end. The ground floor rooms have deep chamfered ceiling beams with stops, and in the kitchen the joists of the floor above are exposed. The fireplace and stairs are late-C20, and in the first-floor rooms the fireplaces have been blocked, and the NE room subdivided. The roof structure, consisting of queen post fan trusses and coupled rafters, survives.


Deeds for the land on which the Rookery stands go back to 1650 and record the presence of a house, orchard, and garden. The Surveyors Draft map of 1795 shows a building on the site, and the estate map of 1828-9 notes an associated building fronting the road, possibly used as a butcher’s premises; there is a cattle market nearby to the north. By the time that the Tithe map was drawn, in c1842, the associated building was no longer present, and the Rookery is shown with the same approximate footprint that it occupies today. The late-C19 and early-C20 Ordnance Survey maps show the building as two units, but by the 1971 edition it is shown as a single entity.

The earlier part of the building is a lobby-entry plan timber-framed house. It has been largely refaced in brick, though a number of historic timbers survive internally; the jowl post, visible on the first-floor landing, and encased below, remains in position on what appears to have been the original rear wall of the house. Evidence suggests that the dwelling was enlarged and ‘improved’ in the early C19 by the smart new cross-wing addition facing south-east, and the earlier portion was relegated to a service wing. There is a blocked doorway internally, linking the cross-wing with the C17 building. The single-storey range beneath the catslide on the rear of the C17 building appears to pre-date the C19 cross-wing; the north-west end of the C17 building, which includes the end of the catslide, has been rebuilt in the same, distinctive brick as the cross-wing.

Plans from 1957 show that the early-C19 cross-wing was reordered internally to provide a bathroom on the first floor, necessitating a new window in the gable, and the stairs were rebuilt. The fireplace in the southern room has been rebuilt in modern brick, and the canopy to the front door has been renewed. The Rookery was owned by a builder in the late C20 to early C21, and there is evidence of modern and heavily repointed brickwork, including the fireplaces on either side of the main stack in the C17 part of the house, which have been rebuilt, though retain their historic bressumers.

Reasons for Listing

The Rookery, a C17 house with a substantial early-C19 cross-wing, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Proportion of survival: the C17 part of the house retains a significant proportion of historic fabric, and the early-C19 cross-wing is little altered externally;
* Architectural interest: the lobby-entry plan survives in the earlier part of the building along with much timber framing, and the C19 part is a good representation of a polite, early-C19 house;
* Historic interest: the building illustrates the incremental development of a modest vernacular house into a smart residence, retaining fabric from its various phases.

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