Saturday, 19 January 2008

Sussex Back-to-Backs

On a recent ramble we came across a fascinating house called Great Wapses Farm, near Twineham, West Sussex.

The footpath took us past the front of the house, which looked like this:

Then it led us round to the back of the house, which looked like this:

As we were gawping in amazement, the owner came out and explained that the timber and brick house was built in the early 17th century and the Georgian house added to its back in about 1720. It's now all one house. Apparently, there are only about 40 such houses in England, mainly in Sussex, the rest in Suffolk.

I wondered if the owner of the earlier house had gone up in the world, perhaps having profited from enclosing land, and had built himself an elegant house a la mode on the back of the old one, facing away from the farmyard.

A couple of weeks later on a ramble that began in Warnham, West Sussex, we hoped to find the poet Shelley's childhood home at nearby Field Place. But no public footpath runs within viewing distance so when we got home, I Googled Field Place. Imagine my surprise when this came up:

The website where I found this photo explains:

Although Field Place was "improved" by successive owners over the years, the house has now been meticulously restored to its eighteenth-century condition by Kenneth Prichard Jones, a past president of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association. The house is composed of several architectural elements (for a thorough analysis of the architecture, see K. Prichard Jones, "The Influence of Field Place and its Surroundings upon Percy Bysshe Shelley" in the Keats-Shelley Review). The original thirteenth-century medieval section held the kitchen in Shelley’s time. There is also a fourteenth-century central addition.

There are more photos of Field Place on the website.

Finally, back to Twineham, then, where there's an unusual brick church built in around 1516, replacing an older building from about 1290. British History Online has this (and more) to say about it, as well as more about Great Wapses and other historic houses around Twineham:

The church of St. Peter is a small structure consisting of a chancel with a modern north organ-chamber, nave, south porch, and west tower, with a shingled oak spire. The walls are of brick, with remains of original plastering outside; the roofs are covered with Horsham stone slabs. The church was built in the first or second decade of the 16th century, probably on the site of an earlier building.


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