Search is on for Uckfield cottage’s medieaval foundations

The dig at Bridge Cottage by Ron Hill
The dig at Bridge Cottage by Ron Hill

Archaeologists are working at Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, looking for evidence of the medieaval foundations at the rear of the building.

The scheme is what is called an ‘enabling project,’ - a groundworks scheme designed to determine exactly where the medieaval foundations lie and protect them before building can start on the cottage’s much-needed extension.

Bridge Cottage is a Grade II listed building which the Uckfield and District Preservation Society (UDPS) aims to restore into a viable heritage centre. The Society has Listed Building and planning permissions and is busy raising money for the restoration project.

UDPS spokesman Mick Harker said: “We have bid for a Heritage Lottery grant and hope to hear the outcome of our bid by September 16.

“When we first asked for quotes to complete the work, contractors were concerned about the amount of potential finds along the line of the excavations which could delay projects. This new scheme aims to ‘de-risk’ the project so our chosen contractors, local firm C J Thorne and Co, know precisely what their work will entail and there will be no ‘hanging around’ time.

“So far various pieces of pottery have been found, and what appears to be the site of a pit which could have been some kind of a rubbish tip.”

The westerly extension will provide space for a kitchenette and protection for some of the exposed medieaval timbers.

This involves excavating for new foundations in an area where parts of the early medieaval building once stood.

The foundations are believed to run north to south in the area that has been exposed. An archaeologist is supervising the work and will record medieaval material exposed until the correct level for the foundations is arrived at. Medieaval features will be protected when the foundations are put in and the area backfilled and re-paved.

Mick said: “This area has already been criss crossed with drains and a gas supply to the old shop - this is where the old foundations are supposed to run.”

Once this has all been determined, foundations will be poured making sure the medieaval foundations are protected. Brickwork will be laid to a damp course level and the area backfilled.

Bridge Cottage was probably built about 1436 for a wealthy client. Much of the original timberwork remains to show how it first looked, with a service wing, central hall and solar wing. The central hall - open from the clay floor to the rafters with a central open fire hearth - was expensively decorated wit moulded timbers to impress visitors.