16th Century – Wings Place – East Sussex, England

Added to OHD on 6/5/14 - Last OHD Update: 11/21/17 - 8 Comments






Wings Place, sometimes referred to as ‘Anne of Cleves House’, is one of very few Grade I listed houses in private ownership in Sussex. The property is steeped in history and has been described as one of the best timber framed Tudor houses in the county and by Pevsner as “eminently picturesque in a watercolourist’s way”. Wings Place stands on a site which has been inhabited for almost a thousand years; a former manorial estate which began life as Ditchling Manor Garden and extended into Chailey parish. It is first mentioned by name in 1095 as part if the Priory of St. Pancras at Lewes and is described in the Latin deed as ‘a garden with houses and ... Two hides there...’. A hide was an area of land which a team of eight oxen could plough in a year, sufficient to support a family. It normally covered about 120 acres and became a unit of tax assessment, used as such for the compilation of the Domesday Book. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537 the last prior, Robert, surrendered Ditchling Garden Manor to Henry VIII. In the following year, Henry granted it to his lieutenant, and the architect of the dissolution, Thomas Cromwell; though history says that the upstairs rooms of Wings Place were used for secret Catholic services and the priest hole at the top of the stairs was a well-used hiding place. When Henry divorced his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, he granted her Wings Place as part of the divorce settlement. After her death in 1557 the property reverted to the Crown under Elizabeth I and in the later 16th Century, Wings Place was believed to have been owned by Lord Abergavenny, who gave it to Henry Poole on his marriage to his daughter as part of her dowry in the 1570s. In 1688 the Browne family came to Wings Place. Peter Browne was a grocer and draper, and his grandson James Browne later started the public library which formed the first floor of the existing guard room and was approached via the flight of brick steps adjoining the east of the house. By the mid 1800s, the census shows that several families were living at the property, suggesting that the property was by now divided into tenements, which is how it stayed until it was sold by auction in 1935. (More info on listing page!)
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8 Comments on 16th Century – Wings Place – East Sussex, England

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  1. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 9815 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Thanks again to Noelle for sending in this awesome property!

  2. I would love to spend the summer in a property such as this, just absorbing the provenance.

  3. Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 450 comments

    Lovely, picturesque house with many fine details, in a beautiful garden and setting, close to Brighton and London, surrounded by national park land, and with what seems to be a rather nice plan.

    Early houses without circulation spaces and principal stairs inevitably have lots of stairways everywhere, but often some awkward compromises in the upper floor plan. Here it’s not so bad, with a practical three generous bedrooms, stretching to a less ideal but still private five.

    I love the great complex mass of the external chimney stack, the gothic main door, and the brilliant little study under the eaves. In fact, there’s nothing of any note that I don’t like about the place.

  4. JulieCJulieC says: 158 comments

    Love it eventhough it is out of my price range. There is a show made in the UK called Escape To The Country in which couples are seeking a more rural lifestyle. The show’s host finds them houses that suit their criteria and I have seen homes that have literally brought me to tears and I seldom cry. The good news is many of them are gorgeous and historic but within a reasonable price range.

  5. AvatarLaurie says: 1536 comments

    Love everything about this except the kitchen. I’d adore to sleep in the bedroom under the roof. The big heavy door is a joy, as is a true English garden.

  6. JimJim says: 4022 comments

    This house is owned by TV host Jamie Theakston, who grew up in Ditchling and bought the place when he hit it big as host of Top of the Pops. He’s been trying to sell it for 5 years. I would guess the association with him would be less of a marketing point than the Henry Vlll, Cromwell, Anne of Cleves angle, though that seems a bit sketchy.

    Great character throughout (exc. the kitchen), but the east end with the chimney and exterior stairway to nowhere has be the most “eminently picturesque”. I can’t find any mention of maybe the oldest bit – the medieval carved stone doorway to the garden. Perhaps a remnant of the house’s Priory days, or another piece of architectural salvage like the pergola out back:

  7. Love the window in the kitchen – lets in light and still utilizes the patterning of authentic half-timber structuring.

  8. Avatardena mccune says: 2 comments

    I absolutely love this. There was nothing I didn’t like.


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