Old Buildings of Ninfield

Read the stories of some of our most celebrated old buildings

Ninfield has 27 Grade II listed buildings. Of these, 8 are farmhouses, 5 are houses, 4 are barns, 2 are oasthouses and 7 are cottages. The Village Stocks are also Grade II listed. The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is a Grade I listed building.

Standard Hill House

Grade II Listed.

‘Standard House’ was owned by John Dyke, a London Fishmonger in 1615. Thought to be built originally earlier in late Elizabeth I reign. Transformed  into a fine Jacobean house dated 1659, it stands at the top of a long hill from Boreham Street to Ninfield. Named after the hill said to be where William the Conqueror set his Standard before the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The house has three storeys with three gables, and another added, and recessed probably in the 18th century. Although it appears to be brick built it was in fact refaced with red mathematical tiles in about 1790.

Over the casement windows it bears three curious inscriptions of “God’s providence is my inheritance”,  “Except the Lord build a house they labour in vain that build it” and “Here we have 1659 our abidance”.

Standard Hill House.

Moor Hall

Moor Hall is sadly no longer standing. The Manor house, had the first recorded owner as Robert of Crevequer in the 13th Century. In the 14th Century it was spelt Morehale.

The family of de Septvans were the owners by the time 1342 when this large estate had much of it’s cultivated land submerged. A five year old descendant who inherited in 1351 was found to be too young and the estate was taken over by the Crown.

It was conveyed by trustees to James Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele who in 1451 was beheaded. Moor Hall then passed through several families until in 1768 the whole estate was acquired by the Worralls Charity.

Moor Hall.

Much altered and added to over the passing years, by the 1980’s it was a large hotel, where pop stars and celebrities often stayed. But it’s decline during the 1990’s by which time a change of ownership, left this old and historic building derelict for some years until it was demolished in the late 1990’s to make way for housing.

Moor Hall fete, Ninfield, 21 June 1922.

Luxford House

Grade 2 listed, built in 1702 in the Queen Anne style by George Luxford who’s initials are over the door. There is a fine entrance hall and staircase. As a farmhouse it was known as Lower Standard Hill Farm and renamed Luxford House when then farm was sold off in 1973. In the 1930’s the hall and front lawn were used as a tea garden.

High Knowle

Grade II listed.

There have been several spellings of this house. It was probably enlarged from a smaller dwelling in the 1700s. It is first mentioned in 1683 and has had a variety of tradesmen living and trading in it, from a glover to a butcher, brick maker, ironmonger, carpenter and finally in 1841 a baker called Hannah Bridger. Following her a succession of bakers occupied the building, most notably the Sargent family.

Now a private house, it is L-shaped of red brick and tiled roof and a flat hood over the door. There are four gables and is tile hung on the back.

The following article was taken from the Ninfield WI Scrapbook of 1952:

Acknowledged as one of the most picturesque of Sussex type dwellings and has figured in several guide books. In 1819 a John Moon lived there and he no doubt gave his name to the hill and the brickyard further down the lane. A bakery for the last 60 years it would seem to have had other uses as at one time there were four staircases, two were outside ones and it is thought that it may have been a tenement house. From the cellar a shaft still goes up into a false chimney to carry away fumes of an illicit distillery, the local name for the brew being “billy stink”.

The old chimney has now been filled with a modern grate but it had originally a Duck’s Nest grate and two smoking chambers for the curing of bacon, which was done with oak sawdust. In fairly recent times the cleaning of the chimney was done by a man called Jimmy Mallet and his son. The latter would array himself in an assortment of old clothes, wrap rags around his feet, and then climb into the chimney and scrape the sides, working his way up by feet and back.

The Mangle Room is still named though the old Box Mangle to which the village brought their linen is long since gone.

High Knowle House.

Little Park

Grade II listed.

First built as a farmhouse around the 1700s, much of this building is early 19th century. At one time it was the home of the Rector of Ninfield, before the Rectory in Church Lane was built in 1880. It is known that the Reverend John Phillips MA lived here in 1851. Sir James Ashby bought Little Park around 1880. Sir James died in 1911 aged 89. Lady Ashby died in 1901.

Little Park.

Tanyard House

Grade II listed.

Originally a 16th Century cottage and built for the Master Tanner, Tanyard House, formerly “The Stannards” is now a two story building with an 18th Century makeover. A graceful, Georgian front of redbrick, it has a semicircular fanlight and five windows wide. To the front of the house each spring, run a line of daffodils at the foot of the railings.

Tanyard House.

A Victorian photograph of the Tannery workers. These would include a (hair)dresser who cleaned the hides of hair. Also a buttman, a barkman, a grinder and flayers. The Tannery was closed in 1886.

The Rectory

The Church and Rectory seen from the grounds.

On land belonging to Lord Brassey, the Reverend R. Bennett built the Rectory about 1880. Before this time, the Rectors had lived either at Ingrams Farm or at Little Park. The original Rectory is now a private house. A new rectory was built close by in the 1960s.

The Windmills of Ninfield

They are now long gone, but there were two windmills in Ninfield:

Ashburnham Mill, a post mill, stood on the High Road. It was built in the year 1809. Mr. William Morris was the last miller to work this mill. It had a unusual arrangement of floors: from the top, a bin floor, a stone floor and a spout floor. It had three pairs of stones, one French burr and two peaks. It was also equipped with a flour sifter and a crusher.

The base, a red brick round house, had two floors. Access to the spout-floor in this mill was via portable steps from the upper floor of the round house.

Ashburnham Mill was battered by the weather and it fell down in a bad storm and was completely demolished in 1937.

Ashburnham Mill.

Thorne Mill was built much later in 1874 and appeared in the Sussex Advertiser To Let in 1874. It was a smock mill with three pairs of burr stones on the Ninfield to Bexhill road near Lunsford’s Cross. Comprising seven floors and standing at nearly 65 feet, it was reputed to be the tallest structure in Sussex.

The mill was last worked in 1902 and was badly damaged in a storm in 1905. The timber above the base was removed in 1907. The base, together with the outhouses, have been converted to a dwelling.

Thorne Mill.

Drayton Lodge

Drayton Lodge was previously called Mellands and Maison Ucelli.

In 1855 William Bullock came to live at Mellands with his daughter Catherine. He was a landowner and retired silk manufacturer. They had a housekeeper, a house maid and a cook. He died in 1877 and is buried in Ninfield churchyard.

The house was then occupied by William Hudson who owned coffee estates in Ceylon. He lived at the house with his wife Lucy and his four daughters and a son. They had a number of servants including a governess, a cook, a housemaid and an under-nurse.

By 1890, Captain Edwards and his wife lived at the house with a housemaid and a cook. George Little was the gardener at Mellands and he and his wife lived at the Gatehouse.

The name changed by 1901 with Mr. William Peel and his wife Ethel living at Drayton Lodge with his young son Robert and a nursemaid. They also employed a parlour maid, cook and gardener.

Drayton Lodge.

Prospect House

Prospect House.

It is thought that Prospect House was built in 1636, as this is the date the land was sold off from Churches Tenement. The first owner was Thomas Harris. Ownership then passed to John Harris in 1644. When he dies in 1673, the property passed to his son, another Thomas Harris. He was a butcher by trade. When he died in 1727 the property passed to his widow, Elizabeth.

In 1740 ownership passed to Thomas and Elizabeth’s son, yet another Thomas Harris who was a Sawyer. The house was sold to George Davey in 1830. An extension was added in 1831, which was used an an independent school during the week and a Nazarene Chapel on Sundays.

The 1841 census shows a school master William Seeley, his wife Ann and their five children living at Prospect House along with nine child boarders (or scholars).

Another school master, T.A. Weston, followed in 1845, and he was also a Receiver and Sub Post Master.