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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