Building record KSY 050 - Leys House, Church Hill

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Leys House is an unusually well-preserved late-14th century timber-framed building.


Grid reference Centred TM 0011 4404 (13m by 14m)
Map sheet TM04SW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Leys House is an unusually well-preserved late-14th century timber-framed building. The house was constructed around 1380 with a central hall that was open to its roof in the manner of a barn and heated by a bonfire-like open hearth, with narrow gabled and jettied cross-wings on each side. The right-hand wing contained a single room on its lower storey which served as a parlour where the family slept, while the left-hand wing was divided into a pair of service rooms in the typical medieval domestic pattern. The ‘high’ end of the hall was recessed at ground-floor level to form a finely ovolo-moulded canopy above the dais where the head of the household sat at meal times; such canopies are rare survivals, and the example here is among the finest in the county. The ‘durn’ two-centred arch of the original front door also represents a rare survival, particularly in conjunction with part of an internal ogee arch to the service rooms, and provides unusual evidence of the variety of door arches that could be found in houses of this period. Although both cross-wings remain largely intact, and the service wing even preserves its ground-floor partition, the open hall was substantially rebuilt in the late-16th or early-17th century and only a few re-used rafters of its roof remain (still encrusted with 14th and 15th century soot from the open hearth). The present brick chimney at the high end of the hall is an insertion of the early-17th century, and is probably contemporary with the existing ‘lobby entrance’ position of the front door. This chimney contained back-to-back ground-floor fireplaces heating both hall and parlour, illustrating the improvement in living conditions of its period, and the timber lintel in the hall displays 17th century apotropaic symbols that were designed to combat witchcraft (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2006. Historical Survey: Leys House, Church Hill, Kersey.

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Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 4 2019 5:12PM

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