Threshing barn at the Southern Farmstead


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Southern Farmstead, Southease, Lewes, BN7 3HX


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Statutory Address:
Southern Farmstead, Southease, Lewes, BN7 3HX

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

Location Description:
East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:


A late C18 threshing barn, updated in the C20.

Reasons for Designation

The late C18 threshing barn, updated in the C20, at the Southern Farmstead, Southease, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:   Architectural interest:   * as a vernacular barn which exemplifies the importance of large threshing barns for crops in the later C18 and helps to illustrate regional building traditions;   * the barn retains a substantial proportion of its historic fabric and its early form and extent are still clearly legible;   * although the supporting roof structure has been replaced and two openings infilled, these later additions and insertions have not unduly affected the barn's historic character.   Historic Interest:   * as a representative example of a farm building built during the important English farming period of 1750 to 1880, which was enabled by the widespread adoption of improved grasses and winter feed-crops.   Group value:   * for the functional and visual group value with the adjacent Grade II-listed farmhouse.    


The village of Southease first appears in the historical record in 966, when a charter of King Edgar records his gift of the Church and Manor of Southease to Hyde Abbey at Winchester. The Abbot retained control of the village at the time of the Domesday survey, when a total of 60 households were recorded. Southease supplied the Abbot with 38,500 herrings every year at a time when Brighton was only landing 4,000. The commercial importance of Southease declined somewhat in the C19, with the development of Brighton and the Port of Newhaven.

The Southern Farmstead at Southease consists of a group of agricultural buildings arranged in a loose courtyard plan. This arrangement is characterised by working buildings located around the sides of the yard and is the dominant farmstead type in the south-east of England. These plans usually reflect a long process of piecemeal development with buildings of different dates, designs and materials. At Southease, only the late C18 threshing barn remains from the original loose courtyard plan, as the other earlier buildings were replaced in the C20 or absorbed into residential development. The remaining farmstead buildings are adjacent to a farmhouse (now two dwellings, Barn and Rock cottages) which is listed at Grade II (National Heritage List for England reference 1239388).

The period between 1750 to 1880 was an important period of farm building development, enabled by the widespread adoption of improved grasses and winter feed-crops. Within the Sussex downlands, chalk, brick and flint became the common building materials for barns from the late C18. Flint combined with brick for quoins, dressings to windows and as banding within the flintwork is particularly characteristic of the C18 and early C19.

The Yeakell and Graner map of 1778 to 1783 shows the village of Southease and indicates the presence of two buildings at the southern end of the village which could correspond to the farmhouse and the threshing barn. If this is the case then the threshing barn was L-shaped at this time with a projection on the eastern side. The 1-inch Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1813 shows a similar image but with the addition of more buildings to the north-east and south-west. The Tithe map of 1840 provides more detailed information with the threshing barn still shown as L-shaped, but now with the projection to the western side. The 1873 and 1910 editions of the OS map still show a small projection to the western side but it is possible that all these projections relate to more temporary structures. The 1930 edition shows the plan of the threshing barn as rectangular and on its current footprint. The map evidence along with the form of the barn suggest that it was probably built in the late C18. Former openings to the south and west have been infilled, but were probably designed for accessing or storing crops at wagon level. The supporting structure of the threshing barn roof was rebuilt in the C20.


A late C18 threshing barn, updated in the C20.

MATERIALS: coursed-flint walls with red-brick dressings in Flemish bond, under a clay-tile roof.

PLAN: the barn is aligned east to west, with the main doors in the centre facing south and north (into the yard).

EXTERIOR: a tall barn of five bays with red brick quoins and detailing to the openings with a single-brick course below the eaves under a half-hipped, clay tile roof. At the north and south elevation, there is a central, full-height vehicular entrance with a timber lintel. The door frames have the remains of a pair of timber-planked doors with strap hinges, originally hung on pintles, some of which survive. To the north elevation the bays to either side are of coursed-flint and the corners are finished with red brick quoins. Each bay has two ventilation openings (one above the other) which are also detailed in red brick. The south elevation is similar, however at the western end, the lower ventilators are wider apart in order to accommodate a former opening (now infilled with later brick). This has a red-brick architrave with quoins, under a red-brick segmental arch.

The east elevation is set into a bank and underneath the half-hipped gable there is a large, high-set opening which is infilled with corrugated iron. It has a red-brick architrave with quoins, under a red-brick segmental arch. The west elevation has four, ventilation openings which are also detailed in red brick. The lower examples are wider apart.

INTERIOR: the barn is arranged as one single open space and has a concrete floor. In the south-east corner fixed to the wall, there is a run of two timber rails joined by slighter, timber uprights, which may indicate the former position of animal stalls or storage bins. The C20 roof structure has continuous side purlins supported on A-frames which have two collars, joined by vertical tension rods.


Historic England - South East Farmsteads Character Statement, accessed 10/04/20 from
Historic Farmsteads and landscape in West Sussex (February 2008), accessed 25 March 2020 from
Southease Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan - June 2017, accessed 20 March 2020 from


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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