Post-Medieval Pondbay and Overspill Channel, Wapsbourne Farm.


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013405

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jul-1990


Ordnance survey map of Post-Medieval Pondbay and Overspill Channel, Wapsbourne Farm.
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2018 at 19:55:21.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Chailey

National Grid Reference: TQ 39796 23124


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The iron-working sites of the Weald formed the backbone of iron production in England from the 15th-17th centuries and employed over 7000 men at one time. Over 100 such sites are known through historical and archaeological investigation, although fewer survive as visible monuments. The sites were responsible for the conversion of iron ores mined in the Weald into iron bars or rods which could later be forged into a variety of shapes. They depended heavily on water power to drive bellows for heating the smelting furnaces and hammers for beating the blooms of iron, and so are found in the upper parts of many of the valleys of the Weald, especially in Sussex. The basic form of the Wealden iron-working sites, comprising a pondbay to hold back water, a water-wheel and a nearby blast furnace and/or forge building, was adapted to suit the particular location. As a result the sites occur in a wide variety of forms, often with complex arrangements for maintaining a steady supply of water in the seasonally-fluctuating streams of the Weald. The example at Wapsbourne Farm, although incomplete, illustrates well the diversity of form of such monuments with its well-preserved overspill channel.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument south-west of Wapsbourne Farm includes a short length of earthen bank, a low-lying area beside the bank and a long L-shaped ditch leading eastwards and then northwards from the bank. These are the remains of an iron-working site dating to the 16th-18th centuries and perhaps earlier, where already-smelted iron was heated and beaten using water power to drive the bellows and hammers. The remains were formerly misinterpreted as those of a medieval moated site. The most distinctive feature of the monument is the well-defined L- shaped ditch which measures 270m in total length and which averages 12m from side to side. It is embanked on the more northerly side. The purpose of the ditch was to carry floodwaters safely away from the principal industrial area and to prevent erosion of the dam itself by overflowing water. At the western end of the ditch is a 20m stretch of earthen bank 12m wide at its base which increases in height as the land slopes downward, so achieving a constant level at its crest. This is the southern end of the pond bay which formerly extended across the shallow valley, damming the stream and ponding back sufficient water to drive a water-wheel. The northern five-sixths of this pondbay, outside the scheduled area, has been flattened to allow the cultivation of the field. Where the stream cuts through the former pondbay there is a marked basin which probably indicates the location of the principal water-wheel. The 20th century culvert at the western end of the ditch and the field drain outlet to the south of it are both excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 12764

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cleere, H, Crossley, D, The Iron Industry of the Weald, (1985)
1989 Unpublished, 1989, Typescript on /2 file
Mr Paul Cragg (owner and farmer), 26 Oct 1989,

End of official listing