In halls of this age there was usually an opening giving
access to a detached kitchen, either opposite the main entrance or
through the pantry and buttery, but its exact location in this instance
could not be discovered. H. S. Cowper, F.S.A., in his account of
timber-framed houses in the Kentish Weald (Arch. Cant., XXIX),
stated (p. 173), that, among the earlier types he had examined, the
kitchen was invariably detached to avoid the danger of fire.
At the opposite end there occurred evidence of a further
internal division to form the customary solar, or upper sleeping
apartment. The row of five chalk-rubble post-settings shown on the plan
are considered to mark the positions of timber uprights supporting the
front of a wide loft, or solar, which extended to the S.W. end of the
building and was possibly open to the hall, as in the early 14th century
house at West Hoathly, Sussex.1
In S.E. England it was not unusual for the space beneath
the solar to be open likewise to the hall, and it apparently was so in
this case, except for the row of posts forming an open screen. Had the
lower apartment been separated by a closed timber partition it would
have rested on a continuous footing like those forming the domestic
offices at the opposite end of the hall.
A short length of rubble footing projecting inward from the
N.W. wall below the solar may have supported the foot of a ladder giving
access to that apartment. Evidence of such an arrangement was noticed in
the medieval timber house at Sundridge.2 There was no
indication that this footing ever extended across the full width of the
hall, nor did we find any trace of a dais at this end.
The function of a chalk projection on the outside of the N.W. wall in
line with the row of post-settings cannot be determined.
A hearth stood at the "high" end, originally
consisting of a platform, 7 ft. square, composed of broken tiles set on
edge. These tiles were of the same type as those used on the roof, and
rested on a foundation of chalk rubble. As the top of the hearth was 6
in. above the estimated floor-level it may be inferred that the tiles
were retained by a kerb, possibly of wood as no trace of more durable
material was noticed. Marks of burning were evident at the centre.
Nothing came to light to suggest the existence of a hood above the
hearth to carry off the smoke, though something of the sort is not
unlikely in view of its position so close to the solar.
A circular platform of flint and chalk, 2 ft. 3 in. in
diameter, was revealed near the square hearth but at a slightly greater
depth. This may have been an earlier hearth which had lost its covering
T. Mason, " Medieval Timber Framed Houses," The Illustrated
Carpenter and Builder, 8th Nov. 1967, p. 3637.
2 Arch. Cant., XXXVII, p. 175.