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Blue Idol stable

A Grade II Listed Building in West Chiltington, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.997 / 50°59'49"N

Longitude: -0.4236 / 0°25'25"W

OS Eastings: 510716

OS Northings: 123135

OS Grid: TQ107231

Mapcode National: GBR GHZ.FQ3

Mapcode Global: FRA B60G.SYB

Plus Code: 9C2XXHWG+QG

Entry Name: Blue Idol stable

Listing Date: 11 December 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1457150

Location: Thakeham, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: West Chiltington

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex


A small timber-framed detached stable, constructed in the later C17.


A small timber-framed detached stable, constructed in the later C17.
MATERIALS: timber-frame (possibly reusing some components), on a C20 plinth. Brick and render infill, timber weatherboarding, and a clay-tile roof; wattle and daub internal panels.
PLAN: the stable is orientated east to west and stands in the western garden of the Blue Idol meeting house. It is formed of two bays, and has a modern pedestrian entrance to the south. The structure suggests it was laid out with an upper floor loft with spaces connected by a central doorway, above a low ground floor which was used for animals. It does not appear to have been heated.
EXTERIOR: the principal elevations of the stable are to the south and east, where the timber frame is exposed and infilled with white-painted brick or render. The upper section of the frame is straight-braced, and the fenestration is formed of small windows with restored plain diamond mullions. The windows are set high under the eaves, with one in each bay of the southern elevation, where there is also a late-C20 timber door to the western bay, and an added window to the corner of the eastern bay. The eastern elevation has exposed small framing similar to the adjacent meeting house, and has a single high-set mullion window with replaced mullions. The clay-tiled roof is steep and is hipped, with a small gablet to the east and a straight gable to the west. The other elevations are clad in black timber weatherboarding.
INTERIOR: the timber frame and roof of the barn are exposed. There are pairs of principal posts to each bay, with six posts in total. They have long, slightly swelling jowls, which are shouldered to carry their connecting timber components at dropped tie beam and wall plate height. The north-western post is more substantial than the others, is heavily weathered and has void mortices suggesting it has been reused, or re-positioned. There are three, low-set tie beams, those in the end walls having empty joist mortices, providing evidence that the building was formerly floored. The central truss supports framed partitioning above and below and is constructed as a piece with the main posts, with matching series of carpenters’ marks. The upper framing is constructed with an interrupted tie beam flanking a central doorway. It also has the remains of wattle and daub panels to either side. The framing below has an offset door opening. The lower partitioning is heavily stained, and scarred, and has empty peg-holes, along with a groove, running along its top surface, providing evidence of wear and tear by animals and of likely fixings for former stalls and feeding troughs. Throughout the frame, there are a number of unused mortices, suggesting the reuse of timber, and two sequences of carpenters’ marks suggesting it has been modified. The roof is constructed in part with C20 timber. It has a single tier of clasped side-purlins, which are supported by collars, and by the central partition. Most rafters are replaced and there is no ridge-board. The floor is concrete.


The Blue Idol stable is a small timber-framed building, which was probably built, or adapted for the adjacent Blue Idol meeting house. The presence of a gablet, slender scantling, small-framing and the use of a dropped tie-beam and interrupted-tie beam in the inner truss all suggest a C17 date. The meeting house was founded in 1691, and the stable may well have been built, or re-configured as part of this development. The steep pitch of the roof suggests that it would originally have been thatched, and there is no extant evidence of any form of heating. Its primary role was perhaps as an animal shelter, with occasional use as accommodation for visiting Quaker friends or more probably their servants. The Blue Idol meeting house (National Heritage List for England reference 1181144, listed at Grade II*), originated as a C17 farmhouse, but was adapted to become the meeting house for the local Quaker community.
In the years before the Toleration Act of 1688, Quakers suffered persecution, for maintaining their right to worship freely. In 1682 William Penn was granted the rights to a large landholding in what was to become the Delaware area of USA. He emigrated to practice his religion freely, and developed the city of Philadelphia. The democratic principles he created for his new city were an inspiration for the American Constitution. Shortly after his return in 1691 he founded the Blue Idol meeting house, where he and other local Quakers were able to carry out their worship. Penn's family home was the nearby Warminghurst Place (no longer extant). The Blue Idol meeting house is still used by Quakers (2018). Historic mapping suggests that the stable was extended to the west by the addition of a workshop, between 1897 and 1911, and this section is excluded from the List entry.
The stable was restored in 2001, with work including the insertion of a concrete floor and the installation of plinths to support the timber frame. The lower section of the western gable wall below the height of the upper floor level, was rebuilt in brick, and the roof rebuilt using a high proportion of new timber. The stable is now in use as a small museum (2018), and a fire exit door has been added to the north.

Reasons for Listing

The Blue Idol stable, a later-C17 timber-framed structure, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest:
*    the building is a good example of a small C17 timber-framed stable which retains a significant amount of its original fabric;
*    the form of the stable reflects the south-eastern vernacular in the carpentry of the oak frame, the hipped clay-tiled roof, and exposed external frame.
Historic interest:
*     as a legible stable, contemporary with the adjacent Blue Idol meeting house, which was founded by William Penn in 1691, shortly after the Toleration Act of 1688 enabled Quakers to freely worship.
Group value:
*     for the stable’s functional and visual relationship with the Blue Idol meeting house (National Heritage List for England reference 1181144, listed at Grade II*).

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