Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Hendall Furnace, 390m north-west of Hendall Manor Farmhouse

A Scheduled Monument in Maresfield, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.0136 / 51°0'49"N

Longitude: 0.0956 / 0°5'44"E

OS Eastings: 547098.429519

OS Northings: 125895.208461

OS Grid: TQ470258

Mapcode National: GBR LPS.711

Mapcode Global: FRA C62F.R2H

Entry Name: Hendall Furnace, 390m north-west of Hendall Manor Farmhouse

Scheduled Date: 13 January 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002238

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 419

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Maresfield

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Fairwarp Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a 16th century blast furnace, wheel-pit, dam, water system and slag heaps surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated between Furnace Wood and Cinder Bank in a narrow stream valley, north of Maresfield in the Weald.
The dam, which is approximately 80m long and up to 4m high, is orientated north west to south east across the valley and is breached towards the eastern end by the stream. At the north west end it turns at a right angle and runs northward before terminating against the steep slope of the valley side. At this end is a spillway. About 10m east of the stream is a hollow in the top of the dam and south of it, thought to be marking the site of a loading platform and the ironworking area. A depression in the ground indicates the location of the wheelpit and blast furnace. Heaps of furnace slag and charcoal are visible in this area. An in-situ wooden trough has been found, partially buried, south of the dam, thought to be a flash for the overshot wheel.
Documentary sources record that the furnace was in use by 1574, in the ownership of Nicholas Pope. Ralph Hogge, a gun-founder appointed to the queen, occupied Hendall between 1576 and 1581. Archive evidence indicates that there was probably also a forge on the site in 1598.
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 MES2856. NMR TQ42NE3. PastScape 406753.
Crossley, D. 1991. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme. Industrial Monuments: The Iron and Steel Industries. Step 3 report. Version O (Site Assessment 59).
Hodgkinson, J. 2008. The Wealden Iron Industry. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. p70.

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.
Hendall furnace is a compact and closely dated site, which survives well. It is a good example and will contain important information relating to iron smelting. The possible location of a later forge on the same site, evident from documentary sources, is of particular interest.

Source: Historic England

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