Kemps, Historic Grade II 16th Century House in Portslade Village East Sussex

Historical Background

Kemps, High Street, Portslade Old Village, East Sussex, Front View Kemps is situated at the Eastern end of the High Street and was built around 1540 by the Blaker Family. This family and their descendants have been significant and wealthy landowners within Portslade and elsewhere in Sussex. They have been associated with the nobility, and held positions as surgeons, Members of Parliament, and mayor of Brighton.

The house is Flint with Brick dressings and Quoins. The walls are up to 3 feet thick in places and most of the internal structure is formed from substantial structural oak beams throughout. The site of the house is framed by high flint walls, and is situated just opposite from the site of the Old Manor.

Old foundations discovered during the excavations for the new road in 1975 revealed a passageway possibly to the Manor, and old foundations joining the existing house, which indicates that there probably was another house here before 1540, which could explain where the Blakers were living between 1485 and 1540.

Kemps is the oldest surviving dwelling house in Portslade Old Village, located at the Eastern end of the High Street behind St. Nicolas Church. The house was the first house built on what later became Portslade Street and then Portslade High Street. Kemps consists of two wings at right angles; the Western wing is the oldest. It has been much altered but shows traces of 16th century origin. The Western wing is later, possibly about 1640. Many of the windows were replaced in Victorian times and were made smaller. Some of the leadlight windows remained until recently. Oak beams have been exposed throghout and new Attic ceilings replace the original ones of cowdung and horsehair.

Kemps, High Street, Portslade Old Village, East Sussex, Front View The exact details of the buildings that comprised the original remain a mystery, but it is clear that there was the house, a forge, a barn, stables, and a considerable amount of land, the main parts enclosed with traditional flint walls. Evidence was discovered in 1975, during excavations, of a passage, and of foundations of an earlier building adjoined to the existing building.

Just across the road are the remains of the Old Manor House that dates from the 12th century. Portslade Old Manor is one of a very few remaining examples of a Norman manor house and is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage.

Kemps is a Grade II listed building, built circa 1540, by the Blaker Family is one of the significant historic dwellings in Portslade Old Village. It is the oldest habitable dwelling house in Portslade, and has been kept very much in the spirit of the Elizabethan times, with a wealth of historic features. In many ways the modern facade is deceptive, as beneath the lime washed stucco lies solid flint walls (up to four feet thick). As you walk in through the main entrance the house feels warm and welcoming.

Anecdotal village history

In our time at the house we have heard many stories of the house, and those that we have verified are listed above, however there are statemements that we cannot prove, so we list them here.

The whole area is within a conservation boundary and the house is Grade II listed.

Site Guide


“A very special place to live in the tranquil Old Village.”