For the last 25 years conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts have come together to join the annual Working Party run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). I went along to join them and created a video about the Working Party at Sullington Manor Farm near Storrington, West Sussex. They were working on repair projects across a range of buildings at this ancient hillside farm settlement clustered around a Saxon church on the South Downs.
The annual Working Party week enables the SPAB to offer those starting out in their conservation career experience working alongside master craftspeople. It also inspires schoolchildren about their local history and involves local communities with both the past and the future of their historic buildings – the week is also great fun for all concerned!
Sullington farmstead is a rare example of a once-frequent settlement model along the spring line on the north slope of the South Downs. ‘Sullington’ is a Saxon word meaning ‘muddy place’ and the church, which forms part of the complex of buildings, has Saxon origins. The tithe barn is of later date, but many of its timbers have been reused and could date from early medieval times. In 1685 the manor was owned by the Shelley family who increased the farm with the addition of neighbouring land on the south side of the Downs, explaining a major re-build of the barn around that time. It’s now owned by Gail and Graham Kittle who run it as a cattle farm and holiday accommodation.