In Rottingdean you will notice that there is no local building stone available. Therefore, timber houses were succeeded by homes built or faced with brick or flint.
A field flint in its natural state is pictured left.
The two main kinds of flint used for building are field flints and beach pebbles. Field flints are irregular in size and shape and tend to have either a white or tan exterior, with a shiny black interior.
Beach pebbles are flints that are collected from the beach. Generally known as cobbles, they started life as rugged field flints but became smooth and rounded in shape following erosion by the sea. Unprocessed field flints tended to be used for humbler construction, while smooth flint cobbles have been used from the 18th century for grander buildings.
The first picture (marked as #1 below) shows a collection of rough flints set in some attractive brickwork, while the second shows some more carefully selected flints of similar sizes.
Carefully selected cobbles of similar size make a fine building, as seen at Rose Cottage while they are also used to good effect in the wall of The Dene.
Both kinds of flint can be split to expose more of the shiny black interior. The result is known as knapped flint and is generally found on higher status properties.
On some of the grandest houses, the flint was knapped to form closely fitting 'squares' of flint, such as you may see at Court House and Down House. These flints have to be knapped so that the face is flat and exactly the right height to run the courses. The actual knapping is very labour intensive, making this the costliest style of flint work to produce.
Click on any image below to view