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The Tithe Barn

Barton Farm, Bradford on Avon

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The Tithe Barn

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The largest building at the medieval Barton Farm complex is the Great Barn, which is popularly known, probably wrongly, as the Tithe Barn. It dates from about 1340 and, at 168 by 33 feet (51 by 10m), is one of the largest in the country. Externally it is all of cut ashlar stone, braced by stone buttresses, except that part of the eastern gable wall was rebuilt in rubble stone at some time. The roof is covered with thousands of thin stone tiles.

It is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of English Heritage.

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Tithe barn interior

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The great glory of the Tithe Barn is its timber roof. The roof trusses -the pairs of main timbers- are all of the type known as raised crucks, in which the main parts are two curved timbers. It consists of fourteen trusses which are in three patterns, probably because of the difficulty of finding the right number of trees of the same shape to make them the same. The trusses are connected by horizontal timbers: the wall plate on top of the stone walls and above them three levels of purlins, which are supported by curved braces. All this supports the rafters, which take the 100 tons weight of the roof tiles.

 

Tithe Barn, Barton Farm, buttressThe lateral thrust of the main roof trusses is balanced by buttresses, although insufficient by the time of restoration in the 1950s. Some of the buttresses have been cut back to allow a horse engine -a mill powered by a horse walking around and turning a central shaft to drive millstones or other machinery- possibly under a lean-to roof.

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