The Slaugham Archives

Chodds Farmhouse
The Slaugham Archive
Chodds Farmhouse

At Chodds Farmhouse an inscription is carved on the oak beam over the fireplace which reads “Bilt 1690”. The house is a Grade II listed building where it is described as dating back to the 18th century giving rise to a small discrepancy.

The name dates back to the Subsidy Rolls of 1296 and 1332 when a certain Johanne Chode occupied a house at or near the current site, and it is presumed that the farm was named after him. One must further presume that he and his successors occupied a farmhouse of some sort for about 400 years before the present farmhouse was built.

In due course Chodds became under the same ownership as Nymans, and, due to its location in the heart of the village, the house has been used for many activities in addition to providing a delightful residence. During World War II it was used as a First Aid Post and Red Cross Detachment members slept there every night. It was also used as a Children’s Immunisation Clinic, and also the headquarters of the Nymans Needlework Guild. Country markets were also held there in aid of Parish Hall funds, and the WI Shakespeare Society used to rehearse in the old Sussex barn behind the house.

In Victorian times the long living room at the front of the house was converted into two rooms, but Derick Gordon came to live there in 1957 and soon removed the intervening walls to restore the original spacious room with exposed oak beams and two open fireplaces.

Until 1st April 1957 land to the east of the High Street/Staplefield Road was in Cuckfield Rural Parish and, for reasons not entirely clear, severely effected the development of Handcross as a thriving village during the 19th century. A map of 1875 clearly shows the startling effects at that time with just Chodds, Windhill and Nymans east of the border marked as a dotted line on the map. To view the map click on Large Version.

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Picture added on 23 September 2012 at 08:27
This picture is in the following groups
Roads - Handcross - High Street (North)
An intriguing, unusual example of wide flat "arches" constructed of "rubbing bricks"; large and soft they would be cut with a saw and "rubbed" down by bricklayers, to provide accurate shapes allowing very fine lime joints. See the 1907 Balcombe Water Tower which shows many brickwork features including rare Semi-Gothic arches of "rubbing bricks".
Added by Arthur Shopland on 26 September 2012
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, I was a novice member of the Nymans Needlework Guild. My friend and I were allowed to leave school on a Wednesday afternoon to join the ladies of the group. The only one I can remember was Mrs Rowe, from Staplefield.
It was the first time I had ever had Seedy Cake and China Tea. I made a handkerchief sachet for Mrs Messel.
Added by Mary Alder (née Tomsett) on 27 March 2013
My brother Derek and I were born in this house in the extreme left-hand upstairs bedroom.
With our evacuee, Rosemary Gage, now our sister, we spent our childhood exploring the farm, fields, and woods beyond.
Very happy memories.
Added by Daphne Sharp (née Mitchell) on 06 February 2016
My dad, Derick Gordon, took over the tenancy of the house in the late 1960s when Ken Poole, the farmer, decided he didn't want to live in the house.
When he took it on, the front door opened into a long hall with a small room in each side. Each room had a small Victorian fireplace. He began renovations and soon discovered two inglenook fireplaces hidden under the Victorian ones. Above the main fireplace the beam is carved with 'Bilt 1690' but an archaeological architect who carried out a survey believes that the house pre-dates that by at least 100 years and that the date refers to when the fireplace was built. He said the house may have had a wooden smoke stack before that. The house has a wooden frame with wattle and daub infills. The frame was made elsewhere and the beams marked with Roman numerals so that it could be re-assembled on site.
After over 45 years living there my mum moved out in the summer of 2015 and the house has remained empty since. It is a really draughty old place and a devil to heat but we have many memories tied up there; two of our dogs are buried in the garden.
We hope the National Trust soon start the work needed to modernise the interior to make it a comfortable house for the next family to live in.
Added by Sam Butler (née Gordon) on 06 February 2016
Two photographs of the interior of Chodds are attached and can be viewed by selecting Open Document.
The first shows the main inglenook fireplace and close inspection of the beam, by zooming in if necessary, will reveal the inscription “Bilt 1690”.
The second picture shows two beams each marked with “III” to enable the builders on site to reassemble the wooden frame correctly. The marks are just visible in the middle of the picture

Added by Sam Butler (née Gordon) on 06 February 2016
My parents Charles and Josephine Durden (née Jenner) lived in Chodds Farmhouse for a very short period during the war years 1939 - 45. They were guests of the then tenants, Bert and Elsie Mitchell, who were parents of Daphne Mitchell who made an earlier comment about Chodds.
My mother was born in Cuckfield in 1908 and went to Staplefield Village School from about 1912 to 1919.
Added by Richard Durden on 08 September 2016
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