cowfold

This timber-framed barn dates from about 1536. Its main purpose was storage and threshing of arable crops, such as wheat, oats, rye and barley. It has been linked with Bayleaf Farmhouse to form a typical late-medieval Wealden farmstead, with a yard for cattle on one side and a stack yard on the other.

Cowfold

The barn on its original site before dismantling. It had been extended by one bay at the right hand end in the late nineteenth century.

This barn is a typical late-medieval example from the Weald. The roof is of crown-post construction and the walls are weather-boarded. The timbers have been analysed by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) which revealed that they were felled in 1536, so the barn was probably built soon after this. In two places the date 1891 has been scratched onto the timbers, and at that date the barn was given a major overhaul including the insertion of a new tie beam. In the reconstruction it has been restored to its original form.

Very few farm buildings other than barns survive from the medieval period. Most granaries, cattle sheds, stables and cartsheds date from the 17th century and later. One of the reasons for this may be that while barns were soundly built by professional carpenters, many other buildings would have been constructed more cheaply, perhaps by the farmers themselves. Eventually, when increasing prosperity allowed, they were replaced by more permanent structures.

Mortices in the posts of the Cowfold barn indicated that originally it had lean-to structures on one side and one end. We have reconstructed them as open-sided shelters to protect animals, implements and the cart, but it also possible that they had boarded walls to form enclosed stabling for livestock.

Cowfold barn 880 x 440