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Sleath Farmhouse (aka Lech Farmhouse)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Grosmont, Monmouthshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.9261 / 51°55'33"N

Longitude: -2.8855 / 2°53'7"W

OS Eastings: 339203

OS Northings: 225652

OS Grid: SO392256

Mapcode National: GBR FC.NT0B

Mapcode Global: VH78P.XVXC

Entry Name: Sleath Farmhouse (aka Lech Farmhouse)

Listing Date: 19 October 2000

Last Amended: 11 December 2009

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 24180

Building Class: Agriculture and Subsistence

Location: Located at the end of a short farm track which runs W off the minor road from Llangua to Grosmont, approximately 1 km S of Llangua Bridge.

County: Monmouthshire

Town: Abergavenny

Community: Grosmont (Y Grysmwnt)

Community: Grosmont

Locality: Llangua

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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Grosmont

History

A substantial and exceptionally rare cruck-framed hall-house dated by dendrochronology to c.1520 and characteristically sited and constructed on a downhill sloping site. Originally of four bays with a single bay open hall in the centre, cross passage and cowhouse to the lower (left) end, and 2-storey solar at the upper (right) end. In the early C17 a floor was inserted in the open hall and a stone chimney stack added against the central truss. Before this there was presumably a partition against the central truss which defined the entrance from the passage into the single-bay hall.

Only three of the original five trusses now survive, the passage truss, the central truss and the dais end truss. The two end trusses along with the front wall were lost in the C19 when the house was recased preserving the original bay layout firstly in rubble stone to the upper end bay and then later in brick to the rest when the lower end cowhouse was converted into a kitchen. During the same period a two storey service wing was added to the north. At the time of resurvey the fa├žade of the house had been recently rebuilt and the window openings were unglazed.

To the S there is a cruck-framed barn, later extended to the downhill side but with only two of the trusses standing at time of inspection. The cruck frames are comparable to those in the farmhouse and it is presumably of a similar date.

Exterior

One-and-a-half storey house. Four bays, three to the left in brick and rubble stone to the right on a levelling stone plinth. Slate roof with brick stacks to the left and centre and projecting stone stack to right gable. The front has four C20 gabled dormers that spring above eaves, and have boarded heads. Ground floor has segmental arched openings with brick voussoirs and projecting keyblocks. Entrance doorway marking original cross-passage is off-centre to left, with square window opening to left, and two window openings to right. Right gable has central projecting stack with off-sets and on first floor (left) a 3 3 casement with cambered brick arch directly under the eaves. To the left a narrow projecting brick stack and single storey lean-to with remains of projecting semi-circular oven.

Taller brick two storey wing to rear offset to the left with hipped slate roof and brick end-stack. Main entrance front to the right forming a small courtyard against the rear of the earlier range. 2 3 3 casements to the first floor with similar broad segmental arched opening window to the ground floor; all with thin stone sills. To the left on the ground floor a 4-centered arched entrance doorway which projects slightly. The rear elevation has two 3 3 casements to the ground floor and a range of stone built lean-to's to the ground floor. All roofless and dilapidated at the time of survey.

Interior

A C16 hall house of four bays and cross-passage retaining three trusses from its original construction. The main cross passage is wide and stone flagged and has a doorway to the hall immediately to the right and the service room (earlier cowhouse) to the left. A C19 quarter turn staircase has been inserted at the end, with a landing; plain square-section balusters; square newels with incurving moulded cap. The original cross-passage doorway at the end survives but is blocked.

The passage is divided from the lower end by a partition with horizontal plank boarding capped by a rail to the lower part and added interwoven wattle infill in the originally open panels above. This partition is pegged to the tie-beam of the passage truss, a robust cruck-truss with lap-jointed collar and tie-beam. The tie beam has regularly spaced mortices in its soffit cut to house tethering posts indicating the use of the cross passage as a feedwalk with tethered cattle fed through the formerly open upper panels of the partition. The lower gable-end wall has been rebuilt in brick with brick fireplace and oven to the ground floor.

The C17 inserted stone chimney to the right of the cross-passage has been built against the central truss. The hall ceiling beams are ovolo moulded with scroll stops and the ground floor fireplace has a deep chamfered wooden lintel and chamfered monolithic stone jambs. The upper partition of the hall is defined by a well-preserved C16 post and panel partition with chamfered posts with straight-cut stops set within the dais-end truss. To the right of the partition a doorway leads to the upper bay or parlour which has a flat ovolo moulded head to the window; chamfered beams and stone voussoired fireplace arch.

The stair gives access to a small landing at first floor level where a doorway has been cut through the collar and tie-beam of the lower truss giving access to the upper level at the service end. This truss is closed and has the best face set to the passage side. A passage leads off the landing into the upper floor of the later rear extension and a further doorway leads through the inserted fireplace wall and a doorway cut through the central truss into the floored level of the open hall with much smoke blackening of the roof timbers above. The central truss is a collar-beam truss with the principal rafters resting on the wall plate and is heavily smoke blackened with its best jointed face set towards the dais end and it probably defined the entrance into the single-bayed hall beyond the cross-passage. The dais end truss is also smoke blackened and its tiebeam has been cut through to form a doorway into the room above the parlour.

The two pairs of the surviving trusses are exceptionally fine and have mid C16 carpenters' marks. The large cruck blades are some 5.5m high, measure 450mm wide at collar and 500mm wide at tie beam. The crucks have notched collars, tiebeams, and two tiers of purlins: the top row trenched, the bottom row supported by angle-struts from the ends of the tie beams. The E pair of crucks survive complete and the W pair are sawn below the tie beam.

Reasons for Listing

Extremely unusual and rare survival of a C16 framed hall house which despite some C20 alterations retains its original construction substantially intact and displays a clear sequence of change including fine C17 interior detail when floors and chimney were inserted. It is one of only 3 recorded examples in the Welsh March to retain evidence of tethering beams in association with a cross-passage partition and as such is a remarkably well preserved and very distinctive example of cruck-framed hallhouse-longhouse.

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