The Blue Ship


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
The Haven, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9BS


Ordnance survey map of The Blue Ship
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Statutory Address:
The Haven, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9BS

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

West Sussex
Horsham (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Public house with outbuildings. Timber-framed core (originally a three-bay cottage) dating to around 1540-1600, with later additions of 1884-1891.

Reasons for Designation

The Blue Ship is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

*   for the surviving timber-frame and historic fabric associated with the original smoke-bay house (of probable 1540-1600 date) and the pre-1840 farmstead additions to the east of the main house;

* for the sequence of distinct rooms and simple fittings associated with the mid-1850s conversion of the building to serve as a licensed house;

* for the neatly-detailed additions of 1884-1891, with features including diamond-leaded windows, tile-hung gables with scalloped bargeboards and decorative carpentry work to the main domestic entrance;

Historic interest:

* for the earliest elements of the historic core of the Blue Ship which demonstrate local vernacular building traditions in Sussex in the latter-half of the C16;

*   the adaptation of the mid-1850s stands as a particularly well-preserved example of the way in which many modest farmsteads were converted to serve as licensed houses following the 1830 Beer Act;

* the survival of the exceptionally rare tap room-servery area and the multi-room arrangement of the interior gives a tangible sense of how many small, rural public houses would have served in the mid-C19.


The first record of development on the site of the Blue Ship is found in the 1548 tenancy ledger of Dedisham Manor in Slinfold. This records the occupancy of ‘a certain cottage and land called Bakershaw’ at this stage. The earliest remaining part of the building is the central range of the present pub, consisting of three bays with a hipped roof to the east. In Diana Chatwin’s ‘Timber Framed-Buildings of the Sussex Weald’ (1986) this is suggested to have been a modest smoke bay house, with a speculative date of around 1600 ascribed. In documentary records from the C16 to the mid-C19 the smallholding is recorded variously as ‘Bakershaw’ and ‘Roundstone’. The name ‘Blue Ship’ was only later adopted in the 1850s when it first became a licensed house. The name appears to have been inherited from a neighbouring pair of cottages (recorded with this name in the 1841 Census) which may have served for a short period as an earlier beer house within The Haven; possibly converted temporarily in the wake of the 1830 Beerhouse Act (which allowed any rate payer to brew and sell beer on their premises at a nominal cost of two guineas, leading great numbers of cottages to be adapted for this purpose across the country).

Over the course of the first half of the C19 it is clear that the plot remained as a smallholding with a cottage and some associated arable land (with five acres, including three small fields by the time of the 1841 Tithe Apportionment). Bakershaw had come into the possession of John Poltock, husbandman, in 1812. It appears that the weatherboarded eastern barn set square to the main range was built at around this time. This eastern range is certainly shown on the 1841 Tithe Map for the Parish of Rudgwick, with additional bays also shown to the west; broadly in the position of the extant later C19 additions. It is also probable that the cottage saw some remodelling at around this time; including the refronting of the south elevation and extension of the cottage to the rear (this based on the 1841 Tithe map and the brickwork and retained fabric here which is consistent with an early-C19 date).

Following the death of John Poltock, the property passed to his daughter Louisa and her husband Charles Miles (conveyed in 1853), who would become the first licensees of the Blue Ship. The Directory of Sussex published by Melville & Co in 1858 first recorded Charles Miles as a beer retailer at this time, although a later article states that the license at the Blue Ship dated back to around 1855 (West Sussex County Times, 10 October 1891, pp4-5). In 1884, the license was taken on by George Marden, a builder and licensed victualler who invested significantly in the site. Works to build the gabled, hung-tile domestic range to the west along with the stable block were undertaken soon after Marden took on the Blue Ship. This was reported to have been completed at a cost of between £4000 and £5000 in the 1891 article.

In the early part of the C20 (certainly after 1908), The Horsham-based King & Barnes brewery took over the Blue Ship. This appears to have brought about a modest secondary phase of development at the pub, with a new WC block between the barn and the main range added at around this time (as shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of Sussex, 1:2,500, 1912). Into the latter half of the C20, the public area was significantly extended through the conversion of the private quarters to the left (west) of the main corridor in around 1973 (in the case of the front room) and 1986 (rear room). In 2000, the King & Barnes brewery and its estate, including the Blue Ship, were sold to Hall and Woodhouse; no changes of note have been made since this time.


Public house converted from a farmstead cottage in around 1855, with a core three-bay range dating to around 1540-1600. The building was remodelled with a new western range and stable block added between 1884 and 1891.

MATERIALS: timber-framed main range with brick and hung-tile walls. Late-C19 brick and hung-tile domestic range to the west and weatherboarded barn to the east. Clay tile roof throughout.

PLAN: The main range runs parallel to the road with the adjoining weatherboarded barn set square to the east. The 1884-1891 domestic range (converted to provide two additional public rooms on the ground floor) is connected to the west, with a lean-to kitchen block to the north of this range. The stabling block is detached and set to the west of the plot.

EXTERIOR: the historic core of the Blue Ship is the central range, adapted and extended from what appears to have been a modest three-bay house with a smoke bay at its west end. The front (south) elevation has a brick ground-floor laid in Flemish bond with a square hung-tile upper floor. The diamond-leaded casement windows and the pair of plank and batten doors appear to have been inserted as part of the works of 1884-1891. The eastern termination of this part of the range is marked by its gablet hipped roof which meets with the later single-storey toilet block, built around 1910. To the east is the early-C19 timber-framed and weatherboarded barn on a brick plinth. This is set square to the main range with a lean-to added on the south side. The western domestic range, which bears the influence of the Queen Anne style, is comprised of a broad gable-fronted bay to the south and a symmetrical three-bay principal frontage to the west. This range has a Flemish bond brick ground floor with alternating bands of square and bullnose hung-tiles above; the two wall treatments are divided by a decorative band of sawtooth (or cogged) brickwork. The windows throughout are diamond-leaded casements with chamfered mullions and transoms. The windows to the ground floor have arched brick heads. The windows above are gabled dormers with shaped brackets supporting overhanging hung-tile canopies. The gable ends to this range all have decorative scalloped bargeboards. The domestic entrance at the centre of the west elevation has a pitched-roof porch of timber construction, including run-out chamfer detailing and shaped brackets, with a brick plinth and diamond-set floor tiles. The entrance door is part-glazed with fielded panels of diagonally-set boards. The roof, which rises slightly above the earlier range it adjoins to the east, has a central brick chimney stack and ridge tiles to the south side. On the north side of the western range is the single-storey kitchen block, which has a hipped roof and diamond-leaded casement windows.

To the west of the plot is the detached brick stable house, also built as part of the works undertaken between 1884 and 1891. This has a double-storey, gable-fronted central bay, with a taking-in door to a hay loft and a two-part stable door beneath. The central bay is flanked by single-storey bays, with a broad carriage door to the south side and a single plank-and-batten door to the north. On the south side there is an original cast-iron water pump on a brick and stone base.

INTERIOR: the main entrance to the pub leads directly into the right-hand (east) room. This retains several elements of the timber-frame, including wall posts, a central spine beam, roughly-worked joists and simple door posts and a lintel (to the corridor). The room has an uneven brick floor (with red and over-fired bricks), settle and fixed-bench seating, and a later-inserted (early C20) brick inglenook fireplace in the centre of the east wall, this integrating a central cast-iron wood burner flanked by fitted benches. The service to the room is from the north, via doorway-cum-hatch, which has a small counter fitted to the half-height door. Immediately to the right of this is a small service hatch (now blocked), which, along with the mortise fillets on the underside of the central spine beam, suggest that the room may once have been divided into two roughly equal sections.

To the west of the main room is a partially stone-flagged corridor which has an east wall with timber braces and brick infill; this potentially having been part of the narrow smoke bay at the west end of the original three-bay cottage. This corridor, which has its own doorway to the south, leads back to a smaller room which is also served by a doorway-cum-hatch with a small counter top. The south wall of this room appears to have originally been the rear wall of the three-bay cottage. This retains substantial timber wall posts, a wall plate and mid-rails (mostly painted over, but still clearly identifiable). At the north end is a brick hearth which is an early-C19 addition, added as part of the rear extension of this period. The combined servery and tap room/ cellar store that connects with the pair of aforementioned rooms also appears to be part of the early-C19 rear extension of the cottage. This has further elements of the timber frame retained in its south wall, including further wall posts, mid-rails and part of the wall plate. Additionally, this room has a tongue-and-groove panelled ceiling, a fixed stillage rack for casks to the east wall and some wooden shelving and counters of fairly indeterminate date, some of potentially mid- to late-C19 origin.

The public area of the ground floor was extended into the front western room (accessed from the central corridor) in around 1973. This room retains several features which may be original to the 1884-1891 domestic range, including a cast-iron fireplace in a marble surround and fitted cupboards to the right of this. The parquet floor and dado tongue-and-groove panelling are probably later additions connected with the conversion of the room. The rear west room (converted in approximately 1986) is carpeted, with a cast-iron fireplace with glazed cheek tiles and later dado panelling. There are two sections of built-in late-C19 cupboards retained here also. The stairs to the upper floor are set between the front and rear western rooms (not seen). To the north of the rear room is a doorway through to the kitchen, which has a quarry-tile floor. The separately accessed toilet block to the east of the central range (built around 1910) has been refitted in the later C20.

Interiors of the stable block, private upper-floor rooms and barn were not inspected. It is understood that additional elements of the early timber frame are retained in the upper floors to the front of the central range. The roof of this range is understood to be of clasped purlin structure.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: post-mounted signboard with wrought-iron work and modern pub sign.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Chatwin, Diana, Timber Framed-Buildings of the Sussex Weald, (1986)
CAMRA Pub Heritage: Blue Ship, West Sussex - The Haven, accessed 9 July 2019 from
'The History of the Blue Ship', Roger Nash, Rudgwick Preservation Society, December 2018
West Sussex County Times, 10 October 1891, pp4-5


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 02 May 2005
Reference: IOE01/11305/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr David Evans. Source Historic England Archive
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