Farm buildings

Tuesday 25 April 2017



The course

Farmsteads are a fundamental element in helping to define the character of our rural areas.  Their buildings are also under enormous pressures; agricultural enterprises needing larger, more efficient buildings and redundancy which can lead to dereliction and loss or the challenges of re-use and conversion.


A summary of the main periods of agricultural development and change that drove the construction of farmsteads and associated changes in the landscape.

The Farmstead – more than the sum of its parts
Vernacular building studies have typically concentrated on individual building types, but their context within a group and the landscape is less commonly examined. This session will look at understanding the group as defined by the farmstead plan type. Whilst there is a limited number of building types that can be found on a farmstead, there is a huge variation in the number, scale and arrangement of these buildings and the way they relate to the surrounding landscape.

Farm buildings – local diversity explored
A detailed exploration of the main farm building types and how they can differ across the country.

Farm buildings in the Weald
Historically, the Weald — the area covered by this local study — is a wood/pasture region dominated by small farms which concentrated principally on raising cattle for fatstock, though all farms at this period were by necessity mixed.  The region is exceptionally rich in surviving farm buildings — mostly barns — many of which were built prior to the middle years of the 18th century.  The study of these early buildings brings to light a number of surprises.

Farmsteads and change – planning for the future
This section will firstly examine how farmsteads are changing, and how they relate and contribute to the the changing nature of rural economies and communities. It will then examine how local groups can enhance our knowledge, the importance of recording and understanding and the development of tools to assist in future management including before the Design Process begins.

The tutors

Jeremy Lake has a love of rural buildings and landscapes that has developed since he started to survey estates for the National Trust in the early 1980s. He worked on the Accelerated Listing Resurvey of rural areas between 1984 and 1988, and then as an Inspector of Historic Buildings in London and other parts of England from 1988. This included a broad range of surveys in both urban and rural areas, and since the mid 1990s thematic listing surveys on chapels,

military and industrial sites and farmsteads that were intended to inform the management as well as protection of significant buildings. Since 2002 he has worked with Characterisation Team, and has focused on developing new ways of mapping, understanding and informing change to rural buildings and landscapes, and now works with the newly-established Historic Environment Intelligence Team. This work involves looking forwards and applying our understanding of the whole historic environment to how landscapes and places will change in the future.. He has published extensively on a range of subjects, from chapels and military sites to farmsteads and rural settlement, and serves on the Methodist Church Listed Buildings Advisory Group and the committees of the Historic Farm Buildings Group, the Society for Landscape Studies and the Medieval Settlement and Research Group.

David Martin has been studying the vernacular buildings of south-east England since the late 1960s and has published a number of books and papers on the subject, including recent books on farm buildings, the towns of Winchelsea, Rye, Hastings and Battle, and the villages of the eastern High Weald.  Until his recent retirement he was employed as the senior historic buildings officer with Archaeology South-East, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, a post he held from 1992.  He is a past president of the Vernacular Architecture Group.

Participant information

Please bring warm outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear, as the day may include a study visit to some of the Museum’s exhibit buildings.


£99 per person, which includes tuition, teas & coffees and a light lunch. If all five courses in the series are booked together  a discounted price of £400 applies.

The Museum

The Weald & Downland Living Museum has over 50 historic building exhibits. It is also home to the award winning and innovative Downland Gridshell, which houses a conservation workshop and artefact store, and is also used for many practical courses. The Museum runs a full programme of courses in historic building conservation and traditional rural trades and crafts, along with MSc programmes in Building Conservation and Timber Building Conservation validated by the University of York. Please telephone for further details.



Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

If any of our courses are full and you would like to be added to a waiting list please email [email protected] or call 01243811021, we are sometimes able to arrange further course dates.