The 17th Century Barn

barn-exteriorThe barn was built around 1640. Although the English civil war was occurring at this time and Colonel Honywood, the local parliamentarian leader, lived at Marks Hall which is only a couple of miles away as the the crow flies, he was very active and was responsible for bringing the siege of Colchester to a close in 1648 so it is likely that the barn was built either a few years before or after this date.

The barn is grade II listed and originally had a thatched roof. In the 1930's the farm tenants wanted to replace the rotting thatch with corrugated asbestos and also lower the angle of the roof. Fortunately the Landlord at that time prevented the roof shape from being changed. It was used as a threshing barn, the two doors being large enough to drive wagons (and later the threshing machine) straight through. It is possible that the doors into the car park were made larger at a later date. You can see the different design of the oaks structure.

awardThe project to convert the barn was started in the summer of 2003 when the Post Office in the village was closed. After much research and eventually receiving support from the East of England Development Agency, the builders started work at the beginning of April 2006.

The walls were underpinned with lime crete, (lime crete is used so that the structure is able to move) the floor relayed and underfloor heating added. The heat is provided by a multifuel burner which uses wood chips and waste grain all grown on the farm with a very low carbon footprint. The asbestos roof was removed and over 92 new pieces of English Oak were used to replace soft wood or rotten timbers using traditional methods. You can see the pegs holding the timbers together right up in the apex of the roof.

We had big discussions with the listed building authority about whether we could use reed as it would last up to 60 years whereas long wheat straw will only last 30 years. unfortunately, because we are more than 20 miles away from the sea we had to use long wheat straw. We were fortunate to find a thatcher who grew his own thatching straw in Cambridgeshire. The roof straw is 24 inches thick and weighed 32 tons when it was newly thatched and the straw was dry! The pattern on the ridge is the master thatcher’s trade mark. When you visit you will see the two pheasants on the ridge

We hope you enjoy the ambiance that this stunning barn creates!