This early-16th century building originally formed part of a larger house, and was probably used as a kitchen for cooking, preserving and brewing. It is an excellent example of late-medieval timber-framed building construction. The modern extensions represent missing parts of the original house.
This building came from the parish of Sundridge, near Tonbridge, Kent. It stood on the site of the new Bough Beech Reservoir, and to save it from destruction the East Surrey Water Company presented it to the Museum in 1967.
Re-erected in 1969, it was the first exhibit building at the Museum. In 2002 it was moved to a new position in the Museum, near Bayleaf farmhouse, in order to improve its environment and presentation.
It was originally built in the early 16th century — dendrochronology suggests 1492–1537. At ground floor level its two bays form a single room. One bay is open to the roof, indicating that a fire burned on an open hearth, blackening the roof timbers with soot. The other bay contains an upper room. The house is timber-framed, with wattle and daub infill to the frame. The roof is of crown post construction, typical of the late-medieval period in the South-East.
The building did not originally stand on its own, but was attached to buildings on its south gable end and west side, both of which probably already existed when it was built. Some time later two doorways were broken through the south wall, one leading into the open bay and the other giving access to stairs to the upper chamber and it is in this stage of its development that the building has been reconstructed at the Museum.
The interpretation of the building as a kitchen rests mainly on the fact that it lacks the architectural features that occur consistently in late-medieval open-hall houses (and can be seen at the Museum in Bayleaf farmhouse and the house from North Cray). Open halls almost always have double height windows in the side walls to light the high table, two unequal bays, and a cross entry at one end, but the Winkhurst building has none of these features. Research in the last twenty years has identified many similar examples, sometimes attached to open hall houses and sometimes detached, including Longport farmhouse. Some examples are described as a “kitchen” in contemporary documents, and their size suggests that as well as everyday cooking they were used for service functions such as smoking, brewing and washing.
The later development of the Winkhurst building is complex. The adjoining building to the south was removed and the south end closed up with inserted timbers. The earlier building adjoining to the west was replaced by a timber-framed wing which still stood in 1967. Probably at the same time a massive chimney stack was inserted into the western half of the open bay, and a new staircase opening was created adjacent to the south gable wall. The marks left by these alterations can still be seen on the timbers.
Winkhurst Farm is the modern name for a holding called Alphs which was at times amalgamated with other contiguous holdings called Boxlowes and Tyes. In the early 16th century the owner’s name was Walter Tye and the holding comprised 80 acres, but very little is known in detail about the history of the house and farm.
Winkhurst Farm was one of a group of three farmsteads gathered around Winkhurst Green, half a mile north of Bayleaf (but in a different parish). The land is undulating and south facing, dropping towards the river Eden where valuable meadowlands were available. The farm would always have concentrated on stock raising, with the meat finding a ready market in London and the hides feeding the tanning industry and associated leather trades. The woodland was also carefully managed to produce not only building timber but also wood for fuel and charcoal.