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
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.