History of Alfriston Clergy House

The oak framed Alfriston clergy house

From church house to National Trust acquisition, Alfriston Clergy House has had an interesting past but perhaps it is most notable for being the first property to be purchased and saved by the National Trust.

The very beginning

The house was built back in 1350 during medieval times and reign of Edward III. A rare surviving example of a Wealden timber framed hall house and although called the Clergy House it was unusual for the priest of the parish to live there. Most of the time the house was rented out by the church as a source of income.

Key events throughout the years

  • 1350 - House built by a farmer who prospered after the Black Death
  • 1395 - The church take over the ownership of the Clergy House
  • 1600 - All the windows of the house are glazed
  • 1800 - House divided into two cottages
  • 1885 - Church authorities seek permission to demolish house
  • 1888 - Death of Harriet Coates, the last occupant of the house
  • 1896 - We buy the house for £10

Harriet Coates

Harriet Coates was the last person to live in the house before it was purchased by us in 1896. Her desire to live out her days at the house delayed the proposed demolishment by the church.

Rev. F.W Beynon

After the death of the last tenant, Rev. Beynon tirelessly campaigned to save the house from being pulled down. He made contact with the then newly formed National Trust and we purchased the house, saving it for ever.

Octavia Hill

Octavia Hill was instrumental in the saving of the Clergy House. Describing the house as 'rich in memories of England as our ancestors knew' she launched the first National Trust appeal for funds to restore the house.

Saved by the National Trust

The house, was the first building to be purchased and saved for everyone for ever by the then newly formed National Trust in 1896. Our logo is an oak leaf - was this oak leaf carved into a beam of the hall the inspiration behind it?