The original site of this building was in Crawley, to the rear of a house on the east side of the old High Street. It had long been known locally as ‘the old barn’ and served as a store shed. After the Crawley New Town Commission had decided to demolish it, detailed examination showed that it had originally been a much longer building, jettied on one side. The upper floor had formed a long hall which may have served as a meeting place for some public purpose. The ground floor was partitioned between the bays and these rooms may have served as stores or shops. An alternative possibility is that the building may have formed part of an inn, reflecting the importance of Crawley’s site on the junction of east-west and north-south routes.

crawley hall

The upper hall from Crawley on its original site. It had been converted into a barn.

The original building was at least five bays long, but had been shortened at both ends. The three surviving bays have been restored as nearly as possible to their original form, but in order to make the building usable the windows have been glazed — originally they were unglazed, like all the other medieval windows at the Museum. The doorhead in the front wall is based on a surviving example in Crawley High Street.

The roofs of this building and the Horsham shop are covered with Horsham slabs. This heavy laminated sandstone is found only in the Weald clay and was once quarried extensively both to the south and the north of Horsham. Within the triangle formed roughly by Horsham, Crawley, and Steyning, most buildings with any pretensions to a sturdy structure and a long life appear to have been roofed with this stone, including even small farm buildings such as granaries.

At each end of the exhibit a bay has been constructed in modern materials to replace the missing original ends. The ground floor houses the Museum’s library, and the upper hall is used as a meeting room, so these areas are closed to the general public.