Mid-C19 oast, stowage and storage shed.
Reasons for Designation
The oast house, stowage and storage shed at Strawberry Hall, a mid-C19 ensemble of buildings designed for the processing of hops, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* an example of a distinctive regional type of agricultural building which survives substantially intact, both externally and internally, demonstrating the hop-drying process.
* as an increasingly rare building type associated with the important C19 hop-growing industry in south-east England, and particularly East Sussex.
* as an integral part of the historic farmstead, located immediately west of Strawberry Hall and the bakehouse, both of which are listed at Grade II.
The oast house, attached stowage and storage shed are shown on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map (1874) and were probably built during the mid-C19 as part of a wider improvement of the farmstead, which included the construction of an adjacent courtyard of barns and a remodelling of the farmhouse. A C20 car garage has been added to the north end of the storage shed.
Oast houses grew out of the introduction in the C16 of hops to the brewing process. As hops need to be dried to keep, oast houses were developed, with a drying floor placed over a kiln. The distinctive cone-shaped vents emerged in the C18, the better to direct air through the ovens and up into the drying floors. Kent was the leading hop-growing area, and its distinctive round oast houses became standard in the early C19, but East Sussex also had a significant number. Oast houses usually consisted of two floors. Green hops were delivered by wagon to a first-floor taking-in door, then spread out to air dry on the upper floor of the barn. They were then raked on to the thin and perforated drying floor (heated by a kiln below). A cowl at the top of the oast would turn in the wind and extract the smoke fumes. Once dry, the hops would be returned to the barn upper floor where a pocket sling would be used to bag them, under a trap door. The filled bag would then be dropped to the ground floor, where the dried hops awaited delivery to the brewery. National production peaked around 1866, and in Sussex it was confined to the more eastern parts of the county. The varieties most generally grown were Fuggles, Mayfield Grapes, Jones's and Colegate's, predominantly in small-scale gardens, situated in sheltered valleys on the richest land.
The site of Strawberry Hall is referred to as Pickbones on a map of 1740 for the estate of William Pettit and the farmhouse is also shown on a draft surveyors map of 1800. Archive records (see Sources) of 1833 describe the site as a messuage of a house (Pickbones) a barn and a stable. In 1825, Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828), the 2nd Earl of Liverpool and the Prime Minister of the day, made nearby Buxted his principal home. He set about moving the existing village to enable the extension of his parkland. By 1839, Pickbones had also become part of the Buxted estate. In 1880 the estate passed by marriage to Viscount Portman and around this time the site became known as Strawberry Hall Farm. By 1899, a bakehouse with covered area and storage barn, was constructed to the north of the farmstead.
Mid-C19 oast house, stowage and storage shed.
MATERIALS: all are built of brick laid in Sussex bond. The first floor of the stowage to the east side is clad in weather boarding to a timber frame. The roofs are slate-tiled.
PLAN: a circular oast house to the south, attached to a rectangular two-storey, three-bay stowage aligned north to south, with a storage shed on the ground floor to the north end.
EXTERIOR: the circular oast house is built of red and grey brick rising to a modillion course, and has a timber-planked door to the east side. The conical roof is terminated by an open, flat top. The roundel and cone are believed to survive but have been dismantled.
The stowage roof is hipped to both ends. The principal east elevation has red-brick piers separating three sets of planked cart-doors to the ground floor. The first floor is horizontally planked. At the southern end there is a an external timber stair which rises to a small landing, providing access via a timber-planked door to the first floor. The northern elevation is also of red brick. The south elevation is blind and built of red and grey brick. The west elevation is thought to also be blind. The storage shed is faced in red and grey brick under a pitched roof, and has a planked door to the south end.
INTERIOR: the kiln is on the ground floor along with an access door to the ground floor of the stowage. It has a thin permeable floor to the first-floor chamber, which has plastered walls, a lagged, heating pipe to each side and a central chain to open or close the vent. The ground floor of the stowage retains its cart bays. The first floor has a timber-boarded floor with a trap door. To the south, there are timber double doors to the drying floor and also a single, taking-in door to the north side. The brick wall to the west has two, brick-filled former openings. The roof has tie beams running east to west with joints suggesting a former mezzanine. The roof timbers are machine-cut and formed of common rafters and purlins, meeting at a ridge board. The storage shed is a single open space.