A listed building constructed c1790

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

a) MOULSECOOMB PLACE: Moulsecoomb , as a manor, dates from at least the eleventh century, but the present fascade of the manor house, Moulsecoomb Place, was constructed in 1790 for Benjamin Tillstone on a building which includes much work from the early eighteenth century. Faced in yellow brick, the house has a central pediment, a south wing which was added in 1906, a single bow and a recent conservatory. The listed building was acquired by the corporation in February 1925 as part of the 315-acre, £30,000 Moulsecoomb estate of Mr B.T.Rogers-Tillstone, and has since been used at various times as a school annexe and a branch library; it is currently the headquarters of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Attached to the rear of the house is a listed cottage said to be the oldest secular building within the borough, and also reputedly haunted by a mistress of James II. Dating from around 1500 or earlier (some references say 1350-1400), it has recently been restored and has a projecting, timber-framed upper storey which may be viewed from Queensdown School Road. It is the only surviving portion of a larger building which was perhaps the medieval manor house. Nearby is a large, weather-boarded tithe barn of the sixteenth century with timbers said to have come from the Spanish Armada, and a single-storey flint extension. A dovecote, known as the Prince’s Tower from visits made by the Prince of Wales (later George IV), was destroyed by vandals in 1942.
Upper Moulsecoomb or Home Farm stood on the other side of the railway line until the 1960s, a site now occupied by Queensdown (formerly Woodside) SpecialSchool; in 1989-91 land to the north-east is being developed as a light industrial estate, the Home Farm Business Centre. The site of Lower Moulsecoomb Farm is now covered by the houses around 68 The Highway.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • When I was quite young there used to be a Sunday School held at Moulsecoomb Place. A Mr. and Mrs. Hamper ran the show. As kids we were packed off to the school every Sunday immediately after dinner (lunchtime). It was the only day of the week when we seemed to eat really well. I actually attended the least amount of times possible – and my parents never found out! I spent the time of truancy exploring the passageways and roads at South Moulsecoomb and up through The Avenue area as far as Natal Road. However, I must have attended a sufficient number of times times to qualify for the Christmas party and summer outing to Burgess Hill …. A result from that was a Christmas time present of a money box in which to put the money I never had! Good thinking on their part. My explorations were often accompanied by Ron James of Newick Road who had a similar respect for events. I’ll mention him in my Newick Road comments. Happy days!

    By Ron Spicer (02/07/2008)
  • I certainly remember Moulscoomb Place as a school library. I was at Coombe Road School in the late 40s/early 50s and we would walk to the field nearby for a ‘games’ lesson and then would be allowed into the library. I imagine this was the ‘top class’ as we walked home by ourselves afterwards. The path from the library gate to the door was lined with butterbur plants which smelled overpowering during the late spring. My most overriding impression of the library was the polished floorboards which to me was very ‘posh’.

    By Maureen Sweet (10/05/2009)
  • Living on The Highway in the 40s and 50s, I used to go to the library in Moulscoombe Place to borrow a book for my mother having been told to ask for a romance. I loved going as it felt like going into a big posh house. We also used to play at the back of the building going up under the bridge to a pig farm. At the side of Moulscoome Hall, now Bates Estate, was an apple farm. When the land was sold for building you were allowed to go in and dig up an apple tree to plant in your garden.

    By julie (27/01/2010)
  • Moulsecoombe Place was bought from an ancestor of mine who had no children of his own. It apparently was not offered to other family members and was bought by a Mr B. Tilstone for £1000.00; far below the value it should have gone for at the time.

    By Jane (01/10/2010)
  • It seems a shame that the oldest part of the building is a local members only social club and therefore not accessible to the public. It could be a wonderful cafe /museum. Does anyone know if it is listed? This year the conservatory at the front has been removed and the large part of the building is used by the University accommodation office. Perhaps the lack of interest is due to it being in the “poorer” part of town.

    By Caroline (14/11/2010)
  • Message to Caroline: the oldest part of the building is Grade 1 listed, it was part of the old farmhouse and dates back to the thirteenth century. Yes, it is a members’ club but we are always looking for new members. Why not you give me a ring sometime to look over the club. 01273 681156 most mornings between 10.00 and 12.00 o’clock, and see for yourself.

    By John Eaton (25/02/2012)
  • The white building is the social club and dates back to 1335. I have pictures of it when it was still lived in.

    By John Eaton (20/02/2013)
  • I wonder if anyone remembers four houses known as Moulsecoomb Villas? At the time that Moulsecoomb Place was used as a library, they were situated in the middle of the two fields next to the grounds of Moulsecoomb Place. A small lane was in front of them which led to Home Farm and the Downs. Would be grateful to hear if anyone remembers them.

    By Veronica Wright (14/05/2013)
  • In the early 60s I used to work in the Parks Dept’s Nursery behind the barn at the back of Moulsecoomb Place. I now see student houses have replaced the greenhouses and the plots of land where we used to grow veg and flowers and many kinds of fruit. I went into the small house many times and it still had the original cooking stove and the rooms were very small. I suppose it’s all gone now.

    By Bill Timson (03/12/2013)
  • Hi Veronica. I used to work at Moulsecoomb Place in the 60s and remember the row of houses very well. There was a playing field at the front and one at the back of the houses. The road ran up towards the rail track then it seemed to turn into a dirt track up to the farm. In  58/59 we used to spend our school holidays watching the builders put up Woodside School, they then made up the road. I think the houses were taken down 60/61 and the road was moved nearer to Moulsecoomb Place where it remains today, the university was started about then. Your letter brought back many memories.

    By Bill Timson (03/12/2013)
  • Further to the above entry – at that time I lived at 55 Southall Avenue.

    By Bill Timson (04/12/2013)
  • This part of the building is part of the Moulsecoomb social club  andit is one of Brighton’s best and friendliest clubs 

    By john eaton (06/06/2014)
  • Message to Bill, the little house is still there it is the Moulsecoomb social club.

    By John Eaton (04/03/2015)

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