About us

The Wealden Buildings Study Group

Who we are

Saxton's map of Sussex made in circa 1575Christopher Saxton's 1525 map of Sussex. Most members of the Group are keen amateur or professional historians, and are expert in synthesising 'above-ground archaeology' with documentary evidence.We are a voluntary group of about 40 members, the majority living in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. Members have diverse academic and practical experience of the inspection, measurement, drawing, analysis and recording of buildings and their context. Among our numbers are professional and amateur archaeologists, historians, architects, surveyors, and geographers. New learners are welcome: we actively share our expertise among ourselves and with other bodies in allied areas of work.

The Group was formed in 1964 by R.T. Mason, a pioneer in the study of vernacular architecture, and Roy Armstrong, founder of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, near Chichester.

We welcome all new members. Our annual subscription is very low (£10 p[er annum in 2016), and we are open to those actively engaged in research into aspects of traditional buildings, from the recording of individual houses to studies of complete parishes and their related documents as part of landscape studies. Use our Contact Us form to send us an enquiry about membership.

What we do

Toad in cellar, 1 Coppards Bridge 2010We respect the privacy of all 'residents' during our visits. Mr Toad watched us in 'his' cellar, dated to c.1607 during our survey. Our objective is to widen the understanding of vernacular architecture and historical settlement in the Weald.

We study the lesser traditional buildings in the Weald - including many built by the lesser gentry, but not those of the nobility.

Our main activities are: 

  • 'Finding' new old houses, and sometimes re-visiting those already seen in the light of our ever-increasing experience.
  • Site visits each month from April to September, usually on Sundays, visiting one property in the morning and another in the afternoon.
  • Additional site visits that fall outside this main programme.
  • Compiling a record of each property. Over 600 records have been completed since we began in the 1960's.
  • Maintenance of an archive of reports, and controlling access to it for bona-fide researchers.
  • Winter monthly meetings with expert speakers, either members or guests, at a central Sussex location on Sundays from October to March. 
  • Adding data to the Building Archaeology Research Database, which allows researchers to search by criteria such as building type, constructional feature, date and location.

We also encourage study of the extensive, ever-expanding literature covering vernacular buildings.

Respect for the privacy of householders

We have strict rules that protect the privacy of householders or owners whose properties we visit.