Previous topics

Winter training and education programme

For forthcoming events see winter meetings page.

Previous winter 2017-18 lectures

Report Summary
This 'talk' provided a summary of all the buildings visited in 2018, providing a chance for the Group to discuss some of the features seen and their interpretation as well as an opportunity to 'see' those buildings you didn't manage to visit yourselves.
May Day Farm Barn
Joe Thompson, carpenter in residence at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, presented the dismantling, conservation and recent rearing up of May Day Farm Barn at the Museum
In An Old House
Peter Varlow provided a well-illustrated talk based on his and Sally's research into the structure of their medieval hall house in Chailey and the life and times of its occupants.
Witches, Warlocks and Wellingtons - the ritual protection of the home.
Dr Janet Pennington examined some of the ways people in the past protected themselves and their homes from evil.
We the Better Sort: Houses of the emerging parish middle class in the landscape 1350-1550
David Martin presented some of his extensive research on this subject which has been recently published as a book. He also introduced us to photo-reconstructions as a method of easily conveying how properties may have looked in the landscape based upon the building interpretation. 

Previous winter 2016-17 lectures

2016 Study Day.
Jeremy Clarke - “Recording Terminology”, Joe Thompson - “Reading the timbers”, Jeremy Clarke - “Dwellings within the South Downs National Park”, Laura Berry supported by Martin Higgins - “Inserted chimneys in Hall Houses”, David Martin - “The development and architecture of the towns of eastern Sussex
Hever Castle.
Alison Palmer is the Conservation Officer for Hever Castle and shared some fascinating historical stories from the annals of Hever Castle history.
The Clergy House, Alfriston.
Stephen Gray presented the history of the Clergy House which was the first house to be purchased by the National Trust.
A History of the Adur Valley
Dr Janet Pennington was the archivist at Lancing College and also lectured in local history and palaeography for the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sussex. Her talk included the buildings, farms, churches, archaeology, roads, salterns, and water…both salt and fresh.
Limeburners, Lords and labourers
Richard Howell is a local buildings and landscape historian, this illustrated talk told the fascinating story of the chalk and lime industry that once dominated the Arun Valley. It traces the chalk and lime industry back to the medieval period and relates why chalk was so important to the local economy.
The history and development of the Wivelsfield area
Heather Warne was archivist at West Sussex Record Office and also Arundel Castle. She also edited the published History of Wivelsfield Parish.
Timber framed buildings of Wivelsfield
Jeremy Clarke has researched the manorial records for the Wivelsfield area. His talk related the standing buildings to the history and development of the area.
A detailed study on the transitional houses of Hampshire
Bill Fergie covered some of the recent research work being incorporated into the updated edition of Edward Robert’s ‘Hampshire Houses’ book which Bill had been working on

Previous winter 2015-16 lectures

Changing styles and merits of WBSG reports over the past 40 years
Jeremy Clarke examined recording and report styles used by the group since the 1970's, demonstrating what our Group provided to householders before the days of word processing and digital photography.
From Trees to Timbers
Illustrated comparative study by Peter Varlow of four houses built between 1335 and 1607, examining the transition in methods of conversion of trees into timber, assessing the quantities used and the amount of woodland the houses consumed.
Gibbshaven re-interpreted
Jeremy Clarke examined how collective knowledge of vernacular architecture has changed since then, and covered documentary evidence that adds to the chronology of the building.
The re-roofing project at Knole
Nathalie Cohen, National Trust Regional Archaeologist, showed us the first stage of the massive project to conserve Knole, including repairing more than 5 acres of roof.
The Earl of Arundel's Hunting Lodge
Dr. Mark Roberts, University College London, explained the landscape and first archaeological findings on the site of the lost Lodge at Downley, high above Singleton on the Downs.
Hearth and Home
Dr Geoffrey Mead, local landscape studies specialist, on how the vernacular housing of Sussex is heavily influenced by the local materials to build hearth and home, linking the availability of these materials to the underlying geology.
Petworth - buildings in the Park
Tom Dommett, Regional Consultant Archaeologist, National Trust, and director of archaeological excavations for the Petworth Park Restoration Project, discussed the the last 3 years' investigations of the multiplicity of structures that have been successively demolished as the landscape of the Park has evolved over the centuries.
Tillington and Upperton village surveys Annabelle Hughes and Pam Bruce summarised their work in these adjacent villages just west of Petworth Park.
Secrets of the High Woods Alice Thorne gave an illustrated lecture on LiDAR work ('light detection and ranging', which uses lasers to map the earth surface three-dimensionally) for a survey othe chalk ridge and dipslope between Arundel in the east and as far as the A3 in the west.

Previous winter 2014-15 lectures

Candle burn marks - accidental or on purpose?
Was about those mysterious burn marks, seen so often in houses with beams that were in place by around the 17th ce.ntury. They are getting less mysterious - thanks to recent practical experiments. Introduced by Peter Varlow.
Bring-a-Brick session - brick identification
We started with an excellent short video of ancient and modern clamp brick firing in Sussex, then we handled and identified samples of bricks that span five centuries. Presented by Peter Varlow.
Researching Wall Hill Farm to discover more about the early history of Forest Row
Jeremy Clarke demonstrated how study of a standing building and the documentary records can be developed using Lidar and other tools to help better to understand the use of the wider landscape in early settlements.
Rafter holes, a carpenter's viewpoint
An illustrated talk by Joe Thompson, Carpenter in Residence at the Weald & Downland Museum, drawing on his practical experience and research into historic carpentry to show why he believes holes often found near the foot of early rafters are there.
Steyning Grammar School and its history
Tree-ring dating provides good evidence that construction of the main building was likely to have been in 1451 or soon after. This talk by Janet Pennington examined some of the alterations it has undergone over the centuries since c.1451, and gave us a new and colourful insight into some aspects of Tudor and Jacobean schooling.
Farm buildings of the Weald
A talk by David Martin based upon his and Barbara Martin’s book ‘Farm Buildings of the Weald 1450-1750’, 2006. When they began their 25 years of research, the High Weald of East Sussex, a wood/pasture region, was exceptional for the number of surviving early farm buildings on its mostly small family farms.
A new Pevsner guide to West Sussex
Elizabeth Williamson, editor and researcher, discussed her project to substantially revise the West Sussex Pevsner, and requested our assistance.