Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Stumbletts Furnace, 360m south-east of Twyford House

A Scheduled Monument in Danehill, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.0579 / 51°3'28"N

Longitude: -0.0046 / 0°0'16"W

OS Eastings: 539939.023792

OS Northings: 130624.300992

OS Grid: TQ399306

Mapcode National: GBR KMQ.RMV

Mapcode Global: FRA B6WB.220

Entry Name: Stumbletts Furnace, 360m south-east of Twyford House

Scheduled Date: 25 April 1977

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002202

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 443

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Danehill

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Nutley St James the Less

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the site of a 16th century blast furnace, dam and slag heaps surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated at the bottom of a stream valley, west of Stumblewood Common in the High Weald.
The earthen dam is orientated north-west to south-east across the foot of the valley. It is approximately 60m long and up to 3m high and has been breached in two places. A bank projects at a right-angle from the dam to protect the iron working area. The site of the furnace, indicated by a depression in the ground and slag heaps, is just south of the stream. There is an overspill channel at the north end of the dam.
Stumbletts Furnace was built in 1534 on land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. It was first let to John Levett and then managed by William Levett, the Buxted ordnance maker. It was leased with a steel forge in 1549 to Thomas Gaveller and Francis Challer. The furnace reverted to John Gage in 1554 and was transferred by him to the crown before falling out of use in around 1570. The site may have been re-used as Vinolds Corn-mill in the late 16th century.
The monument excludes all modern fences and fence posts, gates and gate posts, but the ground beneath these features is included.

Sources: East Sussex HER MES3019. NMR TQ33SE22. PastScape 403536.
Crossley, D. 1991. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme. Industrial Monuments: The Iron and Steel Industries. Step 3 report. Version O (Site Assessment 70).
2008. Wealden Iron Research Group. Iron Site Database. [accessed 27-MAY-2009]

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry, spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques and structures. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small, relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced from the 16th century by blast furnaces, which were larger and operated at a higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge, but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to more sophisticated types of furnaces.
Despite partial damage by soil removal in the past, Stumbletts Furnace survives well. It is a short-lived early blast furnace site that has been largely undisturbed and as such holds a high degree of archaeological potential. The furnace is well recorded in documentary sources, which enhance its value.

Source: Historic England

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