Historical Context

Background History to Thorley Hall Farm Barn

The St Barnabas barn is one of several barns that belong to a settlement centred on the manor of Thorley Hall. The original settlement consisted of the manor house, with its outbuildings, which comprised barns, granary, stables and a dovecot, the church of St, James the Great and several cottages. The cottages and dovecot have long since disappeared and the stables and barns have been renewed or replaced over recent years.

Aerial View of Thorley Hall Settlement

Aerial view showing barn, church and Thorley Hall

The farmhouse, Thorley Hall, has an aisled hall dated, by dendrochronology, at 1253/54 with cross wing timbers dated at 1397. Mention was made of Thorley as Torlei in the Domesday Book. The whole manor house settlement was surrounded by a moat, remnants of which are still evident today. Our barn was built in the mid 1500s as a large building to hold thousands of sheaves of wheat, oats, barley or other crops. These would have been unloaded from horse drawn wagons and stacked up to the rafters. During the winter period the grain would have been threshed from the ears of the corn and then winnowed. Both these operations would have been carried out in the empty unloading bays, with the large double doors left open for the draught to blow away the dust and husks.

In later years the barn was used to house livestock, feed and farm machinery. In 1994 an arrangement was made for the church to purchase the barn and the adjacent farmyard to accommodate an ever-increasing congregation. Following a �1 million restoration, the St Barnabas Centre was opened in April 1996 for church and community use. An adjacent Dutch barn was rebuilt in a similar style to the St Barnabas barn and opened in 2002 as The Emmaus Centre.