Tithe Barn - Atlas Obscura

Tithe Barn

One of the largest medieval barns in England and architecturally one of the finest. 

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One of the largest medieval barns in England, Tithe Barn sits in the small and beautiful village of Bradford-on-Avon. Built to serve Barton Grange, it was a manor farm that belonged to the richest nunnery in medieval England in the mid-14th century. 

To seize control of the rectory at the village, Shaftesbury Abbey built the barn in 1332. Accounts for the years between 1367 and 1392, proved that the manor was tremendously valuable to the abbey, producing an annual income of just over £154. (According to the National Archives, with that amount of money you could purchase more than 100 horses or more than 250 cows.)

Eventually, when the suppression of monasteries happened in 1539, Henry VII granted the Bradford-on-Avon manor to Sir Edward Bellingham, part of the Privy Council. However, ownership of the manor would go back to the Crown when Bellingham died. For the next 80 years, the manor passed through several owners, although it was never a dominant residence. Some notable owners include Marquess of Winchester William Paulet, Paul Methuen of Corsham, and Sir John Cam Hobhouse. The lordship of the manor has remained in the Hobhouse family ever since. The farm continued as a large working manor as farmers sought tenancy. However, the usage of the barn remains unclear.

Over time, the manor farm overlooked the barn despite its historical and architectural value. There were talks of inspections and renovations for the barn; however, World War I put a stop to these plans. Thankfully, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society took responsibility for the building and began repairs. During its restoration, there was noticeable damage. The building wasn’t secure, the tiling was in a bad state, and there was potential for rot in the timber. Financial constraints led the Society to transfer ownership to the Ministry of Works. However, the Ministry carried out major repairs in the 1950s. 

Today, Tithe Barn is part of English Heritage; they have listed the building as grade I. It sits in the Barton Farm country park alongside the River Avon. 

Know Before You Go

It is a five-minute walk from Bradford-on-Avon train station.

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