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Old Timbers

A Grade II Listed Building in Burgess Hill, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9569 / 50°57'24"N

Longitude: -0.1463 / 0°8'46"W

OS Eastings: 530290

OS Northings: 119128

OS Grid: TQ302191

Mapcode National: GBR JMC.ZTD

Mapcode Global: FRA B6LL.0TR

Entry Name: Old Timbers

Listing Date: 26 June 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1455478

Location: Burgess Hill, Mid Sussex, West Sussex, RH15

County: West Sussex

District: Mid Sussex

Civil Parish: Burgess Hill

Built-Up Area: Burgess Hill

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex


Former farmhouse, possibly of earlier C16 origin, substantially rebuilt with a large internal stack in the later C16 or early C17, refaced or replaced in brick in the C18 and refurbished in the C20.


Former farmhouse, possibly of earlier C16 origin, substantially rebuilt with a large internal stack in the later C16 or early C17, refaced or replaced in brick in the C18 and refurbished in the C20.

It was built as a single house, extended, and subsequently divided into two cottages before reverting to a single dwelling in the C20. It was refurbished and reconfigured internally, probably after 1913, adding a north-west garden room and replacing the stair, and has been restored over the past fifty years.

MATERIALS: the outer walls are set on sandstone footings. The house is principally in brick in Flemish bond, in places with burnt headers, replacing or cladding the remains of a substantial timber frame set behind the rear, west elevation and present in the internal cross walls or trusses. Roofs are clad in replaced or salvaged clay tiles. The main stack is of stone and brick, rebuilt above the ridge; the end stack is in brick. Windows are mostly late C20 or C21 units, imitating traditional casements.

PLAN: aligned roughly north-south, it is of two storeys and four bays, with the entrance on the east elevation against a substantial stack, in lobby-entry position, and formerly with what appears to be a jettied upper floor on the historic northern gable wall, now internal. The northern bay was added subsequently, and with a later upper floor, and beyond it is a single-storey C20 bay. An outshut beneath a catslide roof on the west elevation is now incorporated in the main building by the removal of the former rear wall in the central bays.

Internally the main stack has large inglenook fireplaces heating the southern and central rooms. The position of the original stair is not known, but in the C19 and early C20 there was a stair within the central room, and some form of stair in the southern bay, which, it is believed, formed a separate cottage. The current, early to mid-C20 stair rises in the third bay. There appears to have been a substantial open truss to the north of the stack.

EXTERIOR: the front, east elevation is predominantly in Flemish bond brick with a substantial brick buttress between the second and third bays. It has a mid- to later C20 two-storey porch with a timber-framed lower floor infilled with herringbone brick nogging, an upper floor clad in waney timber boarding and a hipped, tiled roof. There is a separate entrance in the single-storey northernmost bay. On the east elevation windows are predominantly later C20 and C21 two and three-light casements and fixed lights beneath shallow cambered arches, echoing the proportions of the historic fenestration pattern; the arches in the ground floor windows flanking the entrance have been rebuilt in the later C20. There is a C20 flat-roofed slightly inclined dormer to each outer bay, each of three shallow lights.

The central section of the west elevation has a deep catslide roof. Extending beyond it is a small C20 cloakroom and an early to mid-C20 garden room with an upper floor, extended in the later C20. A C20 garage is built against the southern bay, structurally reinforcing it. There are few windows at ground floor level; these include a small metal-framed casement with leaded lights and internally with elaborate catches and plates, and a small timber, early-C20 timber fixed light of four panes. Upper floor windows serving the first floor are C20 gabled dormers and in the attic, slightly inclined dormers set into the roof slope, all with shallow three or four- light casements.

The main, internal stack is cruciform on plan, the base in narrow early brick, and has a tall C20 shaft and moulded cap. The northern stack was similarly rebuilt above the ridge in the C20 and has a similar, moulded cap.

INTERIOR: a substantial arch-braced timber frame with jowled posts is evident to the west of the stack, where it is visible at ground floor level and at first floor level, where there is also an arch brace and cambered tie beam of a former open truss to the north of the stack. Infilling between the post and brace is in scribed plaster. Unusually, the arch braces of the western wall are chamfered on both faces. The corresponding cross wall is of slighter scantling than elsewhere, with symmetrical downward braces. The southern room has close-studding on the west wall. The northern cross wall of the third bay, now internal, appears to have a jettied upper floor, but the projecting jetty ends are clean and show no signs of wear or exposure, and may be a later intervention. The northenmost internal cross wall has small framing on the upper floor.

On the ground floor the stack is of sandstone and brick, now painted, and has reset bressumers with 1” chamfers. The southern inglenook opening is particularly large and the southern post of the timber frame is cut off and resting on the western pier. The sandstone has sickle-shaped incisions resulting from its prolonged use for sharpening knives. The transverse ceiling beams and joists are roughly cut, some with stepped chamfers, and the northern beam channelled for a former partition, adjacent to the location of the former stair. The lintel above the east window of the south room is formed of a section of reused cyma-moulded timber.

On the first floor the stack is exposed above the porch and is of sandstone blocks and narrow red, brown and grey brick. Adjacent to it is a plank and muntin door, formerly leading to the attic.

Throughout the house some ceiling beams and joists, and elements of the roof structure, have been replaced during the later C20 restoration of the house; other roof members have been reused. The visible section of the historic roof is of side purlin construction with collars; the central section of the roof is not accessible, however it retains its irregular historic profile.

Early to mid-C20 fixtures and fittings are evident in the newel stair, oak panelled doors, some with moulded muntins, some with high-set, glazed lights with rectangular leaded panes and with wooden or metal catches; and in the garden room. This has an exposed ceiling of moulded beams and joists an angle fireplace in brick and tile, now painted, with a high mantelpiece, deep-set windows with oak reveals and frames and a parquet floor.


Old Timbers, formerly known as Fowles Farm, contains elements of a building that may date from the early C16. It appears to have been remodelled in the later C16 or early C17 with the construction of a large internal stack and again in the C18 when it was clad in brick, replacing much of the timber frame. It ceased as a working farm in 1913, and it appears that after this it was enlarged and reordered internally. Since the later C20 it has gradually been restored and refurbished, and the gardens in which it stands, created.

Fowles Farm was historically part of the Manor of Clayton. In 1687 the 50 acre farm at Fowles was farmed by Richard Neale who died in 1711. In 1749 on the death of the then occupier, John Osborne, an inventory of his goods and chattels was made which mentions rooms within the house including a kitchen, best bedroom and garrett. The house and farm were owned or occupied by the Burton family in 1801, and in 1835 John Burton passed the farm to his grandson Thomas Avery. It remained in the Avery family until the farmlands were sold off in 1913, when it ceased to function as a farm. During the C20 the house was used as a village school and shop.

The building appears on the 1792 Horsham-Danehill OS drawings, on the 1813 Cowfold-Fletching OS drawings and on the 1838 Clayton Tithe Map. The OS 1.2500 Ordnance Survey map of 1878 shows the current north-south, two-storey building, with westward extensions at the northern end.

A photograph of the house from the east, of the early C20 (Hugh Matthews, Burgess Hill (1989) p 50), shows the building closely resembling its current form and profile. Of two storeys and four bays, with the substantial internal stack, buttressed east elevation and internal gable end stack to the north, it had a single-storey porched entrance against the stack on the eastern elevation and small casement windows in each bay, including one above the entrance. A lean-to outshut is visible to the rear, west of the northern bay.

Burgess Hill developed and expanded during the C19, although agriculture continued within the town boundaries, including at Fowles Farm. The house and its gardens and pond are now surrounded by the modern development of Burgess Hill.

Reasons for Listing

Old Timbers, possibly dating from the earlier C16, substantially rebuilt with a large internal stack in the later C16 or early C17, refaced or replaced in brick in the C18 and refurbished in the C20 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural Interest:

* a substantial timber frame of C16 and C17 date, with some unusual characteristics, later clad or in part replaced in brick;
* the evolution of the plan form from a possible open hall to fully floored house heated by a large internal stack;
* well-made earlier C20 additions which were carefully executed to conserve the building, principally the joinery.

Historic interest:

* evidence of important phases of social and economic change and advances in construction in the form and fabric of the building.

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