Ancient Monuments

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Pippingford furnace and ironworks, 885m south-west of New Lodge Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Hartfield, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.0651 / 51°3'54"N

Longitude: 0.0679 / 0°4'4"E

OS Eastings: 544991.178777

OS Northings: 131557.669634

OS Grid: TQ449315

Mapcode National: GBR LP5.00W

Mapcode Global: FRA C619.L7S

Entry Name: Pippingford furnace and ironworks, 885m south-west of New Lodge Farm

Scheduled Date: 25 April 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002223

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 394

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Hartfield

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Coleman's Hatch Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes Pippingford furnace, the site of two 17th and 18th century blast furnaces and ironworks surviving as below ground remains and earthworks. It is situated at the foot of a valley near Birchwood in Ashdown Forest on the High Weald. The site includes two blast furnaces, a wheel-pit, casting pit, boring mill, slag heaps, dam and water system. The dam survives as a prominent earthwork on the west side of the stream with a 19th century stone spillway and modern additions. It was apparently breached during World War II, until which time the pond was water filled. The furnaces and ironworks are to the north of the dam. A concentration of furnace slag, forge cinder, charcoal and black earth, as well as fragments of roofing tile, was identified here and subsequently partially excavated between 1970 and 1974. The west furnace was built about 1696 and used for gun-casting. It is now preserved below-ground under a layer of sand. The east furnace, nearest the stream, was constructed in the early 18th century, during the life span of the west furnace. The surviving casting beds show that it was used for pig-iron casting. It has been back-filled since excavation and survives as a buried feature. A boring mill is sited close by and the wheels of the boring carriage were identified in situ in the late 20th century. Both blast furnaces are thought to have fallen out of use in 1723. Documentary sources record that John Glande held a tenement called a 'Forge of Steele' in Ashdown Forest in 1523. It is possible that this 16th century forge underlies the site.
The monument excludes the surface of the modern trackways; all modern fences and fence posts; gates and gate posts. However the ground beneath all these features is included.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby bloomery, pillow mounds, hillfort, Roman villa and ironworks are scheduled, but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.

Sources: NMR TQ43SW2. PastScape 407107.
Crossley, D. 1991. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme. Industrial Monuments: The Iron and Steel Industries. Step 3 report. Version O (Site Assessment 67).

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.
Pippingford furnace and ironworks is a well preserved ironworks. Partial excavation has shown that the west furnace is one of the most complete gun-founding establishments in Britain. The site has considerable potential for the existence of an earlier, 16th century forge below the current site and for consolidation and display of the surviving ironworking features.

Source: Historic England

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