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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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

West Sussex
Horsham (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 17613 29476




II* House, the remaining part of a mansion which then became a farmhouse. North east range late C15, south east range probably built between 1514 and 1524, south west wing C17, north west wing late C17 or early C18 with 1930s additions to south west and north. The single-storey link block attached to the north east is not of special interest.

MATERIALS: The north east range is timberframed, now partly clad in brickwork on the ground floor of the south east side and tile-hung above, the south east wing is in red brick in English bond with some darker brick diaper work and the remainder of the house is of random stone rubble with some galleting. The whole building is roofed in Horsham stone slabs with two C17 brick chimneystacks and one early C20 external brick and stone chimneystack. Most windows, apart from those in the south east wing had been removed in circa December 2008.

PLAN: The late C15 north east range is of three bays but originally probably extended two bays further north. The early C16 south east range was added adjoining to the south. Later, first a C17 two-bay south west extension was added abutting the east bay of the north east range and part of the south east range, and then a late C17 or early C18 three-bay north west wing. In the 1930s a further bay was added to the north east, a section added to the south west and a porch added to the north.

EXTERIOR: The most visible early fabric is to the south east range, built of fine quality brickwork with a south gable end with two octagonal end buttresses with decorative recessed niches to the tops and a first floor original three-light window with ovolo brick mullions and surround rendered to resemble stone. In the gable above darker-coloured headers form a simple diaper pattern. The east side has two projecting two-storey canted bays with, on the first floor, large blocked four-centred arched windows with hoodmoulds, the northern one with a tablet above, much worn. In between is a two-centred arched window, possibly originally to a staircase and the ground floor between the canted bays has a former doorcase with brick hood moulding, later adapted as a window. The west side has an external brick chimneystack and the northern part of this wall, following the construction of the later south western wing, is now internal. The north side, also of brick abuts the earlier north east wing and was always internal.

The north east wing retains some early brickwork to the ground floor but the first floor is clad in tile-hanging and has three window openings. The C17 west wing is of stone rubble with large gable and French windows to the ground floor. Attached to the south end is an early C20 external brick and stone chimneystack. The north side has a late C17 or early C18 gable to the centre. To the east is a gabled C20 section abutting the timberframed wing and to the west a penticed C20 porch in stone rubble with brick quoins. The main entrance is now through an early C20 studded plank door with ironwork hinges in the porch.

INTERIOR: The late C15 north east wing is now of three bays but the north east wallplate has been sawn through and, from carpenters' marks in the collars, it appears that this range originally extended two further bays to the north. The south end wall has close-studding and end tension braces and had been an external wall before the south east wing was built. The southern part of the west wall survives and all the jowled bay posts, except for the north western one, are visible with a pattern of curved windbraces. The roof structure, of through side purlins with curved wind-bracing and sturdy queen struts, survives intact. At the north end is the pegged trimmer for an original stair and notches for original partitioning around it. The large brick chimneystack was inserted against the tie beam between the south and central bays in the C17 and there is a wattle partition here and taper burns on the collars. On the upper floor of the southern bay is a 1930s brick and tile fireplace, but on the floor below there is a C17 brick fireplace. The staircase within the west side of the central bay has reused late C16 pyramid-type finials to the newel posts, reused handrails and thin "chinoiserie" type panels as balustrading, but was assembled in the late C19 or more probably early C20. The surrounding partitioning between the south and central bays and between the central and north bays appears of C17 or C18 date. Wide floor boards survive on the first floor.

The early C16 south east range has a four-bay roof with staggered purlins of late C17 or early C18 date. It includes some reused timber including a length with quarter round moulding. There was originally a large first floor room of high status with a floor at the level of a wooden door in the north wall leading into the earlier north east range, but the floor was not present at the time of inspection. A blocked four-centred arched brick fireplace to this upper room is on the west wall with a higher blocked arched window with three pointed arches retaining iron stanchions and a smaller arched window. On the ground floor of this wall is a small arched window with brick surround but the fireplace was altered in the C20. The eastern wall retains a number of arched window openings to the former ground and first floor windows (some blocked) and the south wall has a first floor window with ovolo-moulded mullions.

The C17 two-bay range to the west has a large ground floor room with a large inglenook hearth with a slightly cranked bressumer with taper burns and the evidence of a spit-jack fixing. The hearth has been infilled with an early C20 Arts and Crafts style fireplace and there is oak panelling of this date with top mutule frieze. The ceiling has cross beams with quarter-round moulded chamfers and stops and undecorated joists. A ground floor room to the south west has a 1930s fireplace with wooden bressumer, built-in side wooden bookshelves with round-headed tile-on-edge arch and herringbone bricks and an oak wall cupboard with butterfly hinges. This wing has a queen strut roof.

The north west wing has a pegged roof of three bays of thin scantling with queen struts, and diagonal tension braces of late C17 or early C18 date. Two tie beams have been replaced with steel joists. A four-centred arched brick opening survives on the ground floor of the west wall. The ground floor has an introduced reused oak frame. Solid tread stairs between the first floor and attic were no longer present in December 2008.

HISTORY: The manor of Chesworth belonged by 1281 to the Braose family and later was held by the Mowbray and the Howard (later Fitzalan-Howard) families, including the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel. The early medieval manor house which existed by 1324 occupied the moated site south of the present Chesworth House and probably had a courtyard plan.

The late C15 north east timber-framed range was built north of the moat possibly by the second Duke of Norfolk. The adjoining south east brick range with a principal room on the first floor may be the range called "The Earl of Surrey's tower". As this title was used by the heir to the Duke of Norfolk it is likely to have been built by the third Duke when heir to the title after 1514. It has similarities with Kenninghall in Norfolk (Grade II*) which he built after 1524. After the death of Thomas Howard, the second Duke, in 1524, the manor of Chesworth was held in dower by his widow Agnes. His son, Thomas the third Duke, had his niece, Catherine Howard, moved to Chesworth under the care of the Dowager Duchess. Chesworth was the scene of her relationship with a kinsman, Francis Dereham and events with her music teacher, Henry Manox, before she was sent to Henry VIII's court. Events at Chesworth later formed a substantial part of the charges against her at her trial which led to her execution on 13th February 1541. In 1549 the house included a hall, great chamber, dining chamber, a chapel and at least 20 other rooms and service buildings.

In 1572, the fourth Duke of Norfolk was executed for plotting with Mary Queen of Scots, the manor reverted to the Crown and was occupied by various tenants including the Bishop of Chichester (1577-82) and the Caryll family (c. 1586-1660). In 1660-61 the manor was settled on Queen Henrietta Maria and by 1674 on Queen Catherine of Braganza, who still held it in 1699.

From that date until the early C20 Chesworth House was a farmhouse. The present west range built of stone were added in the C17 and early C18. According to an inventory of 1780 there were two principal rooms and a kitchen on the ground floor and six first floor rooms, with a passage. There were two hearths on the ground floor in the two parlours, with a large cooking hearth in the kitchen, and two on the first floor. The early C16 brick range was used as a house in 1836 and as a washhouse, storehouse and dairy in 1868. The C17 west range was extended to the north and south during the C19. The 1876 and 1911 Ordnance survey maps show Chesworth House at almost its current extent.

In 1928 the house was bought by a Captain Cook who enlarged it on the north side, restored it to his own designs and inserted old fittings from other houses. He also laid out extensive gardens and built a new entrance drive from the west, away from farm buildings on the north side (some of which burnt down in 1989). The 1932 Ordnance Survey map shows the addition of an extension at the north east end and a porch to the north west which complete the present footprint of the building. Some repairs were carried out to the building in the later C20.

SOURCES: Nairn and Pevsner "Buildings of England. Sussex" 1985. P248. Victoria County History. Volume 6 Part 2. Ps 156-157. 1986. Dictionary of National Biography entry on Catherine Howard. Dr AF Hughes. Interpretative description of Chesworth House of 1997 with further comments following 'stripping out' work in 2008.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Chesworth House is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Chesworth House comprises a fine quality late C15 timberframed three bay north east wing with close-studding and butt-purlin roof with curved braces, a very high quality early C16 south east brick wing with decorative features together with C17 and circa 1930 additions. * It has historical interest as the surviving part of a manor house owned by the Dukes of Norfolk, the childhood home of Queen Catherine Howard where events took place which ultimately led to her trial and execution and which, reverting to the Crown after the execution of the fourth Duke for treason in 1572 was later gifted to two other queens of England, Henrietta Maria and Catherine of Braganza.


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

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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Sussex: Volume VI Part 2 , (1986), 156-157
Pevsner, N, Nairn, I, The Buildings of England: Sussex, (1965), 248


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

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Date: 24 Jan 2005
Reference: IOE01/12526/23
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Tim Nichols. Source Historic England Archive
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