Working Party: Day 5

SPAB Working Party

The SPAB 2015 Working Party is drawing to a close. A packed programme on and off site made for a busy week; our volunteers have done a remarkable job on the six structures across Sullington Manor farmstead. Sensitive and skilled repair work has ensured the future of this special collection of Saxon buildings.

SPAB Working Party_Lime mortar making

Crushing chalk for the lime mix

Last minute batches of lime were mixed for the final repairs of the week. The scaffolding around St Mary’s Church came down in time for the wedding due to take place there tomorrow. New timber (Douglas fir) was used to replace the unsalvageable 20th century planks on the cart shed.

Timber replacements on the cart shed

Timber replacements on the cart shed

Jonny Garlick, Working Party project manager, says: “The atmosphere on site has been electric…such an enjoyable experience. It’s been an absolute pleasure working alongside such a great group of people”. We’re looking forward to the SPAB Working Party 2016!

Working Party: Day 4

Working Party_Schools day5

Our Working Party team welcomed 150 year 6 pupils from local Rydon Community College today. An important part of the Working Party is encouraging young people to think about building conservation in a practical way, to let them feel traditional materials and immerse themselves in the history of a building. The pupils really enjoyed their day of hands-on history away from the classroom.

Fixing peg tiles with nails and wooden pegs

Fixing peg tiles with nails and wooden pegs

John Russell and team explained the tools involved in constructing the types of buildings the pupils could see on the farmstead and then gave them the opportunity to try their hand at some traditional crafts. Groups of three split hazel to make wattle panels to be daubed with mud. After some hesitation the children enjoyed getting their hands dirty!

Making wattle and daub panels

Making wattle and daub panels

The children were also taught how to use shave horses to make wooden pegs for timber framing and were delighted that they could take their hand-made pegs home. Medieval-style tiles with geomateric patterns were also being made in a shady corner. The pupils took them back with them to fire in the school’s kiln.

DSC_0221

Examples of medieval tiles

Gail and Grahame Kittle, owners of Sullington Manor Farm, led the children on a tour explaining the long history of the site. The farm has a long history of people who have owned and worked on the farm; the children completed worksheets about the different characters connected with Sullington whilst sitting in the church yard.

Illustrations of the lord of the manor and a 20th-century farmer

Illustrations of the lord of the manor and a 20th-century farmer

Elsewhere on site our dedicated team of volunteers continued work in their designated areas, making great progress with the cart shed and the church boundary wall in particular.

Lime pointing on the church boundary wall

Lime pointing on the church boundary wall

SPAB Guardian Stephen Bull and Scholar Joanna Daykin

SPAB Guardian Stephen Bull and Scholar Joanna Daykin

Working Party: Day 3

Blustery weather greeted visitors to Sullington Manor Farm this morning for the Working Party Public Open Day but that didn’t deter them from getting stuck into our hands-on displays.

Open Day demos

Visitors trying their hand at peg making

John and Henry Russell led a series of demos with their team that showcased traditional building techniques such as wattle and daub, timber hewing and peg making. Local blacksmith, Martin Fox demonstrated his craft to a rapt audience and Matt Ash talked the crowd through a Victorian window repair.

Working Party demos

Demos at the Working Party Open Day

Woking Party5_8Jul2015

Henry Russell giving a timber hewing demonstration

There was a packed programme of talks and walks with Dave Green for the Sussex Moth Group kicking off the day with a fascinating lecture on the moths he had captured around Sullington the previous evening. Gail Kittle, owner of Sullington Manor, led tours around the farmstead throughout the day.

A highlight of the day was Geoff Gale abseiling down the exterior of the Saxon church, St Mary’s. He spent the day removing unsympathetic cement mortar that was causing damp issues inside the building.

Geoff Gale abseiling down the Saxon tower of St Mary's

Geoff Gale abseiling down the Saxon tower of St Mary’s

Inside the church, SPAB Guardian Rachel Morley spent the day applying a Victorian milk wash, which is a mix of limewash and milk, inside the church.

Work continued on in the cart shed, the lesser barn, the granary and the tithe barn. Most of the cement has been removed from the exterior of the tithe barn and volunteers have carried out beautiful tile repairs.

Woking Party9_8Jul2015

Tile repairs on the tithe barn

For more photos around the site, please visit our Facebook page. The SPAB will be blogging from the Working Party site all week. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss an update.

Working Party: Day 2

The Saxon farmstead in Sussex, Sullington Manor Farm, has been a hive of activity today. It’s the second day of the SPAB’s annual Working Party and work is well under way. Despite the size of this ambitious project — extensive repairs to six buildings in five days — our army of volunteers and experts are optimistic that everything will be completed by the end of the week.

Sullington Manor

Sullington Manor

The work at St Mary’s church, Sullington has called for all hands on deck.  Volunteers, along with building conservation expert Anthony Goode and our own Douglas Kent, are working on the boundary wall of the churchyard. The 10-strong team have removed the ivy that has damaged the stonework and are now repointing with a non-hydraulic mortar mix (1 lime putty : 3 locally sourced sharp sand).

Repointing the boundary wall of St Mary's Sullington

Repointing the boundary wall of St Mary’s Sullington

A particularly intrepid volunteer donned his abseiling gear to scale the interior of the Saxon tower at St Mary’s church, Sullington. Concrete mortar on the exterior of the tower had caused dampness issues inside.

Lime washing inside St Mary's church, Sullington

Lime washing inside St Mary’s church, Sullington

Another major project is the repairs to the cart shed. The base of an integral plinth had become rotten and the weight of the unsupported tile roof had caused the timber walls to buckle. A team of Scholars, Fellows and volunteers have began to carry out structural repairs and low-level repointing.

Repairs to the cart shed

Repairs to the cart shed

WP20_7Jul2015

Repointing with lime mortar

DSC_0135

Timber for the week’s repairs to the cart shed

For more photos around the site, please visit our Facebook page. The SPAB will be blogging from the Working Party site all week. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss an update.

 

Working Party: Day 1

The SPAB’s annual Working Party, where we put our philosophy of conservative repair into action at a building in need, is off to a great start. All our volunteers arrived over the weekend at Sullington Manor Farm in Sussex to pitch their tents, establish their barbecuing areas and get to know each other.

Working Party_2015

The packed programme of work began today. Our 70 strong group of volunteers were divided into their groups so work could begin on the six buildings on site; the tithe barn, small barn, cart shed, cow shed, granary and the local church.

‘Sullington’ is a Saxon word meaning, more or less, ‘muddy place’ and the church, which forms part of the complex of buildings, has Saxon origins – so the complex of buildings at Sullington dates from 1000 years ago but it can still be muddy in winter! The tithe barn is not quite so old but many of its timbers have been reused and could date from early medieval times. The construction of the east porch indicates that this was built around 1500 but the main construction of the barn is recorded as being 1685. In 1685 the manor was owned by the Shelley family who increased the area being farmed with the addition of neighbouring land on the south side of the Downs, thus explaining a major re-build of the barn.

Small barn, Sullington Manor

Small barn, Sullington Manor

Sullington farmstead is now a rare example of a once frequent settlement model along the spring line on the north slope of the South Downs. In medieval times Sullington was owned and occupied by the lord of the manor; the Saxon thegn, Ulward, held the manor of Edward. The Norman noble family, de Couvert, owned the manor from c.1242 until 1366. Sullington was bought in 1546 by the Shelley family who refurbished the house, re-built the small barn and then enlarged the tithe barn to its current size. The Shelleys moved from Sullington to Sandgate which became the seat of the lords of the manor from the mid-18th century, the farmhouse was again tenanted.

Work on the small barn roof

Work on the small barn roof

Sullington farm was sold to Lord Leconfield of Petworth in 1789, as indicated by the odd numbering, 491 and 492 (Petworth estate numbers) are the only houses on the west side of Sullington Lane. Tenant farmer Albert Hecks bought the farm from the estate in two phases in 1912 and 1920 but very sadly he and his son died in the same year, 1951, and the farm was broken up for sale. Ivan Kittle purchased the farm itself, and John and Grahame Kittle, Ivan’s son and grandson, have since farmed in succession at Sullington.

Cart shed at Sullington Manor

Cart shed at Sullington Manor