May Day Farm Barn Update: January 2018
Report by Joe Thompson, Museum Carpenter-in-Residence.
Reconstruction of our new exhibit, May Day Farm barn, is underway and the carcass of the barn has now been successfully raised with the structural timbers in place.
Originally built in the late 18th to early 19th centuries this three bay threshing barn (span 16’ and length 34’) with rear lean-to’s (span – 10’ ) had a tiled roof with hipped ends that sat over weather-boarded walls. It formed part of a tenanted farm on the Summerhill Estate, just south of Tonbridge in Kent. The barn is sited near to the Museum’s hay barn from Ockley and will eventually form part of a 19th century farmstead exhibit.
In the late 19th century, the Georgian hipped roof was almost entirely removed by the Victorian carpenters who replaced it with a gable roof. The timbers of the barn have been painstakingly repaired in the Museum’s conservation workshop, with the aim of retaining the maximum amount of the historic timbers. This “kit of parts” has been erected on temporary blocks and will be underbuilt with brickwork. The original bricks were retained and these will be re-used and any missing will be supplemented with new matching bricks.
The building has been removed from its original site as part of the recent A21 road-widening scheme between Tonbridge and Pembury. The dismantling and re-erection project was overseen by Highways England and funded by Balfour Beatty.
Next to be raised is the farm’s stable, after which both structures will be clad with weatherboarding, with a view to opening this spring.
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