Proposals to restore the historic Bridge Cottage in Uckfield town centre and open it up for use by the public are before Wealden Council.
The scheme has been prepared under the supervision of the Uckfield Preservation Society and will give an idea of how the inside of the building would have looked back in 1436.
In those days, according to documents produced by town-based W.A.S. Chartered Architects, it was a substantial timber-framed house, well above average size and built for someone of high social standing.
It would have had a large central hall open to a roof made of massive timbers designed to be decorative, as well as functional, and demonstrate the wealth of the owner.
Over the years two floors were inserted in the hall and fireplaces and chimneys added. The house also moved down the social scale ending up as two cottages.
By 1980 they were threatened with demolition but a joint fund-raising venture allowed it to be bought by the town council and eventually leased it to the preservation society.
Now the plan is to remove first floor partitions and the second floor. ‘This will provide a large room corresponding to the original hall, albeit at first floor level. With the roof structure and three crown posts exposed above it and the principal truss arching across it, it will provide a dramatic impression of the original space.’
The report goes on to say this room will form the centrepiece of the house and ‘an unusual and attractive venue for public or private functions’.
It is proposed to access the building through the annexe, currently housing a sweet shop, and build a room above to give space for archival storage, study facilities and new electrical, communication and alarm installations.
There are also plans to rebuild the main staircase and build an extension at the rear to house a kitchenette and servery to allow light catering for functions.
The aim is to achieve a ‘viable long term future’ for the building by providing the local community with a heritage centre that offers information about the area, supports craft, artistic and historic activities and interest, displays and explains the origin and history of the house, makes the house available as a venue for events and maximising its physical and social contribution to the community.
Bridge Cottage restoration costs