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16 High Street, Hailsham

A Grade II Listed Building in Hailsham, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.863 / 50°51'46"N

Longitude: 0.2598 / 0°15'35"E

OS Eastings: 559130

OS Northings: 109490

OS Grid: TQ591094

Mapcode National: GBR MT2.SL8

Mapcode Global: FRA C6FT.H1G

Plus Code: 9F22V775+6W

Entry Name: 16 High Street, Hailsham

Listing Date: 18 January 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1447344

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


Shop with offices above, largely C19, with a C17 wall painting.


Shop with offices above, largely C19, with a C17 wall painting.

MATERIALS: the building is rendered, though is likely to be constructed from brick, and has a tiled roof and brick chimneystacks.

PLAN: it occupies a rectangular plot in the terrace of buildings running north-west to south-east on the east side of the High Street.

EXTERIOR: the building is two storeys and two bays. The principal elevation faces south-west, onto the High Street. A modern shop front, in a historic style, occupies the ground floor. On the first floor there are two tripartite sash windows with segmental arched heads and stone sills. To the rear, there are three window openings halfway up the elevation.

INTERIOR: the building is two rooms wide, with the stairs and service rooms to the rear. The ground floor has been opened-up, though has some modern partitioning; it does not contribute to the special interest or the building.

On the first floor, there is a historic timber partition between the two principal rooms. The partition was originally four bays wide and two bays high; a bay-and a half appear to have been truncated on the east side to create a doorway between the two rooms, now blocked. The timber frame is infilled with panels of lime plaster and on the southern face is a historic wall painting. In the left panel, above the mid-rail, in embellished script, is the text ‘THE PEACE OF GOD, / A QUIET LYFE, A CONTENT / MYNDE AN HONEST WYFE / A GOOD REPORT, A FRIEND IN / STORE WHAT NEEDE A MAN WISH’; the poem may have continued in the right-most panel, now lost. The central two panels depict a lion and unicorn with foliate and floral embellishments. Below the mid-rail the painting survives poorly, though traces of colour and floral motifs are legible. The partition has been encased below the mid-rail, and has a protective screen covering the upper section. There is brick above. The special interest of the building is concentrated in the partition and wall painting.


An account of the history of Hailsham states that the row of buildings within which 16 High Street stands have been present for over three centuries, and were owned by Charles I, as part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The current building appears largely to be C19, though within the first floor is a painted, timber-framed partition of a much earlier date.

The partition divides the two principal rooms of the first floor. The frame is infilled with lime plaster panels, and the southern side is painted with a poem and a royal coat of arms. The Victoria and Albert Museum Prints and Drawings Department is understood to have offered an opinion of the painting in the 1980s, based on photographs; the particular coat of arms could date to the reign of James I, though other features in the decoration suggest the reign of Charles II. The Courtauld Institute of Art and a specialist conservator were consulted as part of the listing assessment (2017), and concurred that the painting is C17, probably from the first quarter of the century, and that the script and sentiment of the verse are fitting with this period. It is also noted that although the upper portion of the painting is monochromatic, there are traces of colour in the lower panels, which have been protected from the light. The partition has been truncated on the east side, dismembering the unicorn and removing a probable fourth panel. A secular wall painting of this period is considered rare in England.

The 1932 book ‘Old Cheshire Families and their Seats’ attributes the authorship of a poetic verse, similar to that inscribed at the building, to the Manx Baronet, Sir James Stanley (d1747), though it is probable that he copied or adapted an existing verse: by the C18, it would have been old-fashioned.

The timber-framed partition is assumed to be in its original position within the building, as it is unlikely that the plaster panels would have withstood movement. The partition is not structurally contiguous above, where it has been built upon with brick, and has been truncated on its inner edge, and hence it is assumed that the timbers of the partition are tied into the wall of the front elevation and the floor frame. The northernmost of the two first floor rooms has a higher floor level, the joists to which have been punched through the lower painted panels. The northern side of the partition does not appear to have been painted. There is no other evidence visible within the building to suggest the presence of further timber framing.

The building has been in commercial use for many decades. The shop front is modern, and the ground floor has been opened up into a single space. The chimneystacks at either side end of the building appear to date from the late C19 or C20, as does the roof structure. There is a boxed-in piece of masonry at the top of the stair which may relate to a former chimneystack.

Reasons for Listing

16 High Street, containing an early C17 wall painting, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* The wall painting is an unusual survival of a well-executed scheme of artistic merit, providing insights into the tastes and aspirations of the building’s past inhabitants.

Historic interest:
* Secular wall paintings of this date are rare, and the fragmentary survival of coloured pigments in the dado section especially so, thus it has the potential to contribute to our understanding of historic architectural painted decoration and technology.

Group value:
* With a number of nearby listed buildings, and it contributes positively to the varied street scene.

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