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Winterbourne Court Farm Barn

Winterbourne Medieval Barn is an important historic site located within the parish of Winterbourne and was built in 1342 AD.

Winterbourne Court Farm is a member of a small group of great mediaeval barns in the true cruck tradition (a building style dating from mediaeval times) which survive in south-west England. It was built in a raised-cruck form around the time of the Black Death.

It is the largest Gloucestershire cruck building of which we have any information. Its architectural significance is greatly enhanced by the historical evidence that it belonged to gentry rather than a monastic estate. The size of these barns reflect the massive centralised agricultural exploitation of the estates of that period. Winterbourne is unique in that no other substantial 14th century lay barn exists anywhere else.

Part of the mediaeval barn complex (purchased by South Gloucestershire Council in 1997) was repaired in the autumn of 2003 with the help of funding from English Heritage.

There is a current initiative to refurbish the whole site for a community-led food and environmental centre. South Gloucestershire Foodlinks (SGF) plans to work with local growers to develop local markets for their produce and with the local community on a range of educational projects. The success of this initiative depends on council support.

At its original extent, the barn at Winterbourne was probably of 11 bays and at least 143 ft (43m) long by 26 ft (8m) wide internally, although it might have stretched to 12 bays on symmetry grounds. It would also have had two great porches originally, but the building has now been reduced to 7 bays and one porch, with 6 roof trusses. The trusses are outstanding examples of raised crucks with strongly-elbowed cruck blades, raised about 9 ft (2.7m) off the ground and standing on timber pads built into the wall. The crucks carry arch-braced collars and rise to saddles supporting the square-set ridge piece 31 ft (10m) above the floor. One of the trusses is slightly shorter and employs a short king post above the saddle to support the ridge. There are two sets of purlins, with wind braces to the lower set. They are tenoned into the blades either side of the cross-entry, but are trenched into the backs of the crucks, or packing pieces, on the other trusses. Most of the original rafters survive.

Dendrochronology commissioned by English Heritage to supplement and enhance the original study was undertaken by Roland Harris and Jennifer Hillam in 1991*. Previously, only an estimated felling date range of 1326-1368 could be produced, but selective re-sampling of the same crucks, plus an additional six timbers, allowed 10 precise, or nearly precise felling dates to be given. Some degradation of the outer surface of the timber on some of the samples has produced a very narrow date range of a year or two, but are all consistent with a latest felling date of spring 1342.

*’Tree-ring dating of oak cores from the Tithe Barn at Winterbourne, near Bristol, Avon’, AML (ancient monuments laboratory) Report, 46/91; VA 23, 44-7).

Opening details

Open for special events and volunteering opportunities throughout the year. Please visit the website for details.

No admission charge

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Disabled toilet available

Contact details

Church Lane,
Winterbourne,
BS26 1SE

www.winterbournebarn.org.uk

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