Shops and inns

Thursday 15 June 2017



The course

Shops and inns have been the focus of urban commercial life for centuries.  Their survival has been compromised by intense commercial pressure, but this day school will show how their form and all-important public face developed in the medieval and modern periods.




9.30 – 11.00 Shops and Shopping  Although the evidence for medieval shops is scarce, there is sufficient surviving evidence for their structure and layout to allow a rationale for them to be produced. In the 17th century, with increased population and wealth, then later the growth of industry, retailing took off. This session will look at the architectural evidence for shops of all periods up to the 19th century to explore how they were used – and consider the issues posed by the continual redesign and refitting of shops in the present day. David Clark


11.00 – 11.30 Coffee


11.30 – 12.30 The Corner Shop The history of the small shop through the ages, drawing on Sussex examples, and their relationship to the inn-keeping world. Janet Pennington


12.30 – 13.00 A visit to the Museum’s medieval shops from Horsham, and Market Hall from Titchfield in Hampshire. David Clark and Janet Pennington


13.00 – 13.30 Lunch


13.30 – 15.00 Medieval Inns & Taverns This session will consider the origins and character of the medieval urban inn, and its relation to the courtyard house, monastic lodgings and wine taverns. David Clark


15.00 – 15.30 Tea


15.30 – 17.00 Post-medieval Inns The subject of inns in their regional setting is a much neglected one. In 1550 the seven towns of western Sussex provided c.30 inns for travellers; by 1700 there were c.80. Twenty-one villages in the region also provide evidence for smaller inns during the period, many of which have survived until the present day. Architectural and documentary evidence will reveal reasons for their existence, growth or demise. Urban and rural Sussex inn signs, together with their brackets, also open a window on the past, revealing land ownership, patronage and social status. They are a colourful addition to our urban and rural surroundings; inn signs were, and still are, much more than external advertising for food, drink and accommodation. This session will include several contrasting case studies from the region to illustrate points raised. Janet Pennington

The tutors

David Clark is a past President of the Vernacular Architecture Group. He developed his interest in architectural history following retirement from a career in public administration, and has published works on medieval shops, the medieval taverns of Oxford, the buildings of Burford and timber framing in Berkshire. He is also secretary of the Oxfordshire Buildings Record, which he helped to found in 2000 and now has over 200 members.

Janet Pennington was the archivist at Lancing College for many years and also taught local history and palaeography for CCE at the University of Sussex. Her research on the history of the Chequer Inn at Steyning in the 1980s eventually led to a PhD on the architecture and social history of early-modern Sussex inns and taverns. Janet gives talk throughout the county of Sussex on a variety of subjects (, particularly pubs – she has visited more of these than most people!


£99 per person, which includes tuition, teas & coffees and a light lunch. If all five courses in the series are booked together  a discounted price of £400 applies.

The Museum

The Weald & Downland Living Museum has over 50 historic building exhibits. It is also home to the award winning and innovative Downland Gridshell, which houses a conservation workshop and artefact store, and is also used for many practical courses. The Museum runs a full programme of courses in historic building conservation and traditional rural trades and crafts, along with MSc programmes in Building Conservation and Timber Building Conservation validated by the University of York. Please telephone for further details.



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If any of our courses are full and you would like to be added to a waiting list please email [email protected] or call 01243811021, we are sometimes able to arrange further course dates.