Built between 1840 and 1850, this picturesque Grade II listed property in the outskirts of East Grinstead holds a special place in the history of the town. The Gatehouse and Dovecotes were originally built as a gatehouse to the Hurst-en-Clays Estate.

The Gatehouse is of two storeys, built from sandstone, with hung tiles on the first floor. It has a stone slab roof and contains triple mullioned windows with leaded lights. The turret is a three story stone circular turret derived from central European Mediaeval castle origins with a conical tiled roof incorporating a dovecote in the upper storey and with four gabled projections with dove holes. The turret has slit windows and Pseudo-Machicolations.

In its original role, the entrance to the estate ran between the turret and the main body of the house, with a connecting room forming an arch over the road. This arch has now been closed off with sandstone walls to form an additional room at ground level.

The earliest photographs of the buildings are attributed to 1864, when the buildings look very new. Later photographs and a drawing by WR Pepper in 1885 show the addition of trelliswork and a profusion of creeping plants. Later photographs still, probably from between the Wars, show a new pair of gates which were solid, not barred.

On 2 October 1860 the Parish Vestry approved a scheme by which Mr Charles Chevall Tooke Esq. of Hurst-en-Clays Estate gave land for making a road from Ship Street to Hermitage Lane in return for the relinquishment of all public rights over the existing road, which ran immediately past his front door. The former road thus became his personal entrance drives, with Field Cottage guarding one end and Dovecote as it was originally called, the other.

It is not clear exactly when the houses were built. There was no evidence of the buildings in records from 1840, and the earliest documented record found is from around 1860. In WH Hills' book "History of East Grinstead" he implies that the building was already standing at the time of the road schemes of 1860. It seems unlikely, however, that it should have been built across a public road.

The stones forming the wall on the west side of the new part of Ship Street are said to have come from the old Workhouse in London Road which Mr Tooke bought in 1862 and whose site he sold back in 1864. It seems possible that some materials from that source were also used for Dovecote/The Gatehouse.

When the Hurst-en-Clays estate was sold for housing development in around 1963, the space under the arch was filled in for an extra room, and the buildings were divided into two houses - The Gatehouse and Dovecotes.

Timeline of The Gatehouse's history: Timeline

History of East Grinstead: Town history

For more information email: info@thegatehouse.net

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