The St Barnabas Barn, Thorley
The St Barnabas Barn. Beautifully restored and in use today.

Introduction to the Website

This website is the result of research into the architectural and social significance of a large 16th century farm barn in Thorley, near Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.

The restoration and conversion of a pig barn into a stunning church and community centre in 1996 was the inspiration of the then Rector, Rev. Clive Slaughter. The St. Barnabas Centre now serves the parish as a church on Sundays and is used throughout the year by the community as halls for weddings, youth groups, conferences, music exams, school workshops, art and craft fairs and festivals. The cost of restoration, which amounted to approximately £1 million, was met by church fundraising and a substantial donation by a local benefactor.

My interest in the architectural features and the social history of the St. Barnabas Barn arose whilst our ancient barn was being restored in 1995. In my capacity as the archivist and church historian for St. James the Great church at Thorley, I made it my business to enquire about the recent history of the pig barn. By talking to villagers, who had first hand experience of working on Thorley farm, I gained an insight into its use as a farm building. Subsequently I attended a summer school course on timber-framed buildings to gain some understanding of the history and construction methods of barns. From these initial local contacts I realised that our barn was of considerable significance as regards its social and architectural development within our community of Thorley.

With encouragement and assistance from colleagues Bob Stroud and Adrian Gibson, many more investigations were undertaken and records kept of the many fascinating features found in our barn. Other local timber-framed barns in Hertfordshire and West Essex were visited that added a greater perspective to and understanding of the construction of the St. Barnabas barn.

Having accumulated a large file of notes, drawings and photographs, I was then asked to share our findings with interested groups through a series of 'PowerPoint Presentations'. It was at one of these occasions that Don Reid suggested that the St. Barnabas Barn deserved to reach a wider audience through the medium of the Internet. I am therefore indebted to him for his expertise and patience in producing this informative website.

For information about church services and the parish office visit St James Thorley Web site For the history of St James the Great and its parish visit Friends of St James

Why the Name 'St Barnabas Centre'?

We named our restored barn 'The St Barnabas Centre' after Barnabas the apostle. Barnabas was the nickname of Joseph, 'a Levite from Cyprus' (Acts, Chap. 4 verse 36). The name means 'the son of encouragement'. Barnabas had sold a field that he owned and had brought the money for use by the Apostles. A Barnabas member of our own congregation provided most of the finance for the restoration of the barn from the proceeds of the sale of her own wheat fields. By following the example of Barnabas we intend this centre to be a place of encouragement and outreach for the parish of St. James the Great and the wider areas around Bishop's Stortford.

Thorley barn before restorationThorley barn after restoration

These pictures show the barn before and after restoration.

The following pictures show the barn as it is today, viewed from the rear.

St Barnabas Barn from the East as it is today (1) St Barnabas Barn from the East as it is today (2)