Ancient Monuments

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Post-Medieval Pondbay and Overspill Channel, Wapsbourne Farm.

A Scheduled Monument in Chailey, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9905 / 50°59'25"N

Longitude: -0.0095 / 0°0'34"W

OS Eastings: 539795.8335

OS Northings: 123123.9299

OS Grid: TQ397231

Mapcode National: GBR KNH.Y44

Mapcode Global: FRA B6WH.D4Q

Entry Name: Post-Medieval Pondbay and Overspill Channel, Wapsbourne Farm.

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1970

Last Amended: 25 July 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013405

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12764

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Chailey

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Chailey St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument south-west of Wapsbourne Farm includes a short length of
earthen bank, a low-lying area beside the bank and a long L-shaped
ditch leading eastwards and then northwards from the bank. These are
the remains of an iron-working site dating to the 16th-18th centuries
and perhaps earlier, where already-smelted iron was heated and beaten
using water power to drive the bellows and hammers. The remains were
formerly misinterpreted as those of a medieval moated site.
The most distinctive feature of the monument is the well-defined L-
shaped ditch which measures 270m in total length and which averages
12m from side to side. It is embanked on the more northerly side. The
purpose of the ditch was to carry floodwaters safely away from the
principal industrial area and to prevent erosion of the dam itself by
overflowing water.
At the western end of the ditch is a 20m stretch of earthen bank 12m
wide at its base which increases in height as the land slopes
downward, so achieving a constant level at its crest. This is the
southern end of the pond bay which formerly extended across the shallow
valley, damming the stream and ponding back sufficient water to drive
a water-wheel. The northern five-sixths of this pondbay, outside the
scheduled area, has been flattened to allow the cultivation of the
field. Where the stream cuts through the former pondbay there is a
marked basin which probably indicates the location of the principal
The 20th century culvert at the western end of the ditch and the field
drain outlet to the south of it are both excluded from the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The iron-working sites of the Weald formed the backbone of iron
production in England from the 15th-17th centuries and employed over
7000 men at one time. Over 100 such sites are known through historical
and archaeological investigation, although fewer survive as visible
monuments. The sites were responsible for the conversion of iron ores
mined in the Weald into iron bars or rods which could later be forged
into a variety of shapes. They depended heavily on water power to
drive bellows for heating the smelting furnaces and hammers for
beating the blooms of iron, and so are found in the upper parts of
many of the valleys of the Weald, especially in Sussex.
The basic form of the Wealden iron-working sites, comprising a pondbay
to hold back water, a water-wheel and a nearby blast furnace and/or
forge building, was adapted to suit the particular location. As a
result the sites occur in a wide variety of forms, often with complex
arrangements for maintaining a steady supply of water in the
seasonally-fluctuating streams of the Weald.
The example at Wapsbourne Farm, although incomplete, illustrates well
the diversity of form of such monuments with its well-preserved
overspill channel.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cleere, H, Crossley, D, The Iron Industry of the Weald, (1985)
1989 Unpublished, 1989, Typescript on /2 file
Mr Paul Cragg (owner and farmer), 26 Oct 1989,

Source: Historic England

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