13th February 1361. The Medieval Barn.
More research needs to be done on medieval barns to see as to whether they were used for storing the tithes or just for general use. Most would have been used for storing both.
Today in 1361, on the joint petition of the King of England and the French, Avignon Pope, William Wykeham was ‘provided’ to the canonry and dignity at Lincoln, one of several church offices he was to acquire. He was appointed Bishop of Winchester in 1366.(1)
Apart from the wealth of Church livings and estates, the possession of the great storage barns was a lucrative source of income in medieval times and William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester (2) was to endow his New College at Oxford, in the early 15th century, with the revenue from three barns: Swalcliffe, Adderbury, Oxon and Upper Heyford.(3)
Monasteries would have required enormous barns to take the grain from their estates as well as to store the produce acquired by the imposition of tithes from the tenants. Much of this produce would have been distributed to the poor as well as clergy, but the the wealth generated was enough to fund endowments by the likes of Wykeham.
Another barn acquired by Bishop Wykeham was that at Harmondsworth, which late 14th century barn was used as an endowment to his new Winchester College.
Records show that a carpenter in 1398 was sent to repair the barn at Harmondsworth, which must have fallen into disarray as in 1426, the master carpenter ‘William Kypping was sent to choose oak trees from the forest at Kingston, to raise the mighty new barn’.
The manor and advowson of Harmondsworth plus that of Tingewick, Buckinghamshire, had been acquired from the Prior of the Abbey by Wykeham for his endowment. It was later acquired by Henry VIII in 1543 in exchange for other properties.(4)
Many large store-houses are scattered around the country and called ‘Tithe Barns’ for want of a better description, though many were just Grange (monastic farm) warehouses. The one at Pilton, Somerset is one of four surviving from the estates of Glastonbury.
Other outstanding buildings include, Midsomer Norton, Great Coxwell, Wareham, Oxford, which was owned by the Beaulieu Estate, the 15thc barn at Tisbury, Wiltshire, the largest thatched-roofed barn in England, and that at Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire.
On 23rd June 1963 lightning struck the 14thc tithe barn at Pilton, Somerset and destroyed the thatched roof of a barn which along with Doulting had originally been owned by the Benedictine Abbey at Glastonbury.
In 2001 the former tithe barn at Cerne Abbey, Dorset, where Hardy used to attend local scientific society meetings and described in Far from the Madding Crowd, went up for sale at ¾ million £.
(1) The Papacy moved to Avignon between the years 1309-1377.
(2) Bishop from 1366 to 1404.
(3) New College was founded as St Mary’s College of Winchester, by William of Wykeham.
(4) On Monday 30th January 2012, it was announced in the Guardian Newspaper, that Harmondsworth, an extra-ordinary medieval barn, once dubbed the Cathedral of Middlesex by Betjeman, has been bought by English Heritage in a move to save it from decay.
Ref: naturalheritage/harmondsworth-barn. Pic Ref.
Ref: britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/cerne-abbot-barn. Pic Ref.
Ref: nationaltrust.org/great-coxwell-barn. Pic Ref.