Chailey Green was first designated as a Conservation Area in June 1976. The following description of the Green and its buildings is based on the Conservation Area Appraisal document prepared by Lewes District Council in 2003. The full document may be seen here.
Chailey Green is located within the countryside, 6.5 miles to the north of Lewes. Lewes Road, the A275, runs through the conservation area on the eastern boundary of the Green. Several narrow lanes run around and off the Green and Chailey Green Road. The Conservation Area is primarily residential; however there is also the Parish Church of St. Peter, Chailey Church of England Primary School, a village hall known as the Reading Room, and The Five Bells, a popular public house.
The conservation area is located on a slight ridge with the southern side raised and gently sloping down to the north. The immediate surrounding countryside is softly undulating. Geologically the conservation area is comprised of clay which has historically been used to make bricks, tiles and pottery. This accounts for the prevalence of brick and tiles used in the construction of many of the historic buildings in Chailey Green and the surrounding area.
The area has a distinct identity because it is one of the few nucleated historic settlements within Chailey. Despite being within the open countryside, the conservation area has a pervading sense of enclosure, almost separateness, provided by the concentration of buildings that surround The Green. Nevertheless, the rural setting is an integral part of the character of the conservation area, with views across open fields possible in several locations.
There are two landscape conservation designations within the Conservation Area. There is a Site of Conservation Importance located in St. Peter’s churchyard and the whole settlement is within a 500 meter buffer of Ancient Woodland.
The name Chailey is thought to derive from the Saxon word “chag” which referred to the gorse and broom which grew in the area. The area's name has evolved, during the late 11th Century and early 12th Century when it was known as Chagleigh, and prior to the 17th Century as Chagley. The oldest standing building in the conservation area is St. Peter’s Church, part of which dates from the 13th Century. The conservation area lies along Chailey Green Road, which also includes The Five Bells public house, thought to be 16th Century. This building was historically one of a string of coaching inns along the route between London and Brighton. Chailey is shown on the London to Shoreham route in John Ogilby’s 'Britannia', dating from 1672, which is considered one of the first road maps to be published in Europe. Several buildings are thought to date from the 17th Century, including Durrants and the Corner Cottage. Chailey Moat, Bosun and Beards too are from this period although they were given a classical makeover in the 18th Century. There are also a number of attractive Victorian properties, but since the late 19th century, the settlement has changed little, with only a few modern infill houses and agricultural buildings having been built.
The conservation area provides a number of attractive historic buildings which together form a cohesive whole. St. Peter’s Church on the southern side of the Green is the main focal point, although all the buildings that enclose the Green are notable. Perhaps most notable is the house called Beards, to the southern side of the Green, next door to St. Peter’s, because of its attractive Georgian character and its slightly raised location due to the gentle north-south slope in the topography. Notable also is the Reading Room which, while a small single storey building which appears to have been altered significantly in its history, is a focal point because it sits prominently on The Green.
Views into and out of the conservation area are limited as a consequence of the enclosing effect of the properties that surround the Green. However, views of the wider countryside are possible along the northern part of Lewes Road between Faulkner's Reading Room and Chailey Primary School, although these are limited by the mature trees located between the road and the fields. There is an attractive vista into the conservation area from the south where Lewes Road is tree-lined with some views of the open countryside and where Place Cottage and Beards terminate the vista. An attractive vista is found up and down the tree-lined lane that leads to Chailey Moat, also either side of the lane there are fields which can be seen through a continual line of trees. Standing on The Green, looking at the properties that enclose it, also gives a number of pleasing views and vistas. The conservation area has a number of public foot paths running through and around it where there are attractive views and vistas of the village and the surrounding countryside.
Buildings in Chailey Green are mostly various historic residential dwellings. There are a number of larger detached houses, including Chailey Moat and Chailey Place but it is the modest houses that are the commonest building type in Chailey Green. Other, less numerous building types in the conservation area include vernacular farm buildings, St. Peter’s Church, the Five Bells public house, the Reading Room, the forge (now a house adjacent to Durrants) and the Chailey Church of England Primary School.
A number of the buildings in the conservation area are on the Council’s local list or have been statutory listed as being of special architectural or historic interest. Of the statutory listed buildings all are grade II listed with the exception of The Parish Church of St. Peter which is grade II* listed.
In addition to the conservation area’s statutory listed buildings, a number of unlisted buildings have been noted as being positive buildings, i.e. buildings that make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area. These buildings are various, but typically they will be good examples of relatively unaltered historic buildings where their style, detailing and building materials provide the conservation area with architectural and/or historic interest. There is a presumption that positive buildings within the conservation area will be protected from demolition and the Council will only grant consent for applications for alterations or extensions to these buildings where they preserve or enhance their character and appearance.
Houses are typically two storeys high, with a variety of roof forms including hipped, pitched, half-hipped and cat-slide, with dormers a rare intrusion into the front roof slopes. Brick chimneys also feature prominently on residential properties. All the houses have a limited palate of materials and architectural detailing. There are also a number of farm buildings which have a vernacular appearance and are constructed of local materials.
The buildings of Chailey Green feature locally available materials, but also more unusual materials imported into the village from further field. Red handmade clay bricks could be said to be the defining material in the conservation area as it is one of the commonest. It is the dominant elevational treatment in buildings such as Beards, The Lodge, Corner Cottage, Heasmans Cottages, Bosun (now painted), Durrants (although the front elevation is now mostly rendered), the Rectory (which is tile hung on the first floor) and a number of the farm buildings adjacent to Church Farm to name a few.
A notable type of brick within the conservation area are the vitrified headers. These glazed brick became fashionable in the Georgian period and have been used on several buildings, such as on the ground floor of Chailey Moat, Church Farm Cottage, Church House Cottage and The Lodge. While red brick is the dominant building material, there are also a number of other materials which make a smaller but not insignificant contribution to the character of the conservation area.