Exhibition – ‘Bridge Cottage Uckfield – A home for nearly 600 years’

A free exhibition is being held in Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, to show its use as a home since 1436. Originally owned by a prosperous local farmer, Bridge Cottage has been lived in by Tudor, Stuart, Hanovarian and Victorian families, up to modern times.

The last residents left some 50 years ago. This exhibition will show the development of the building as a home, as well as something of those who lived there.

One of the features of a new free exhibition opening at Bridge Cottage, High Street, Uckfield, on Saturday 30th March is this solid oak frame, similar to those used to construct the building in 1436. The exhibition will be opened at 10-00 by Anita Long, who was a key figure in the preservation of Bridge Cottage. The exhibition chronicles the lives of families who have lived in the building, as well as showing how they kept witches and evil spirits out. It will also show evidence of archaeological work on the site, and how it was restored with National Lottery support.

The exhibition is open from 30th March to 6th April, but closed on Sunday. Refreshments will be available on the Saturdays, when there will be activities for children. Admission is free, and a detailed guide book will be on sale.

So what was the purpose of the frame? Frames like this one made up the structure of the building; they were generally made in a “Framing Yard” in the woods nearby, where they were assembled flat on the ground. Each joint was then given a distinct pair of carpenter marks, so that the frames could be disassembled, taken to the building site and then re-assembled in the right order to form the building. Wattle and daub was then used to fill in the walls – and there is some 15th century wattle and daub on show. Every joint was held together with oak pegs, which allowed an element of movement during construction.

Bridge Cottage hosts now a series of talks and musical concerts, as well as antique fairs and craft fairs. It has rooms for hire, and is licensed for weddings. More information can be found at www.bridgecottageuckfield.co.uk.

Mick Harker and Jeff Holman

IMAGES by Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)