Monastic grange at Barton Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Monastic grange at Barton Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 82324 60465

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The agricultural buildings at Barton Farm, Bradford-on-Avon represent a fine and well preserved example of a monastic grange. The standing remains, the majority of which date from the early 14th century, can be identified as being those of an agrarian farm documented as belonging to the Nunnery of Shaftesbury. Part excavation has demonstrated that associated with the buildings are buried archaeological deposits with the potential for providing information about the use of the buildings and the economic basis of the grange as a whole. The grange is a rare and important survival. Part of the monument is in the care of the Secretary of State and its location within an area of public open space ensures amenity value.


The monument includes the tithe barn, the West Barn and the associated buried remains of a medieval monastic grange at Barton Farm, immediately east of the River Avon at Bradford-on-Avon. The standing structures are grouped around an open rectangular yard. The most visually impressive of these is the early 14th century tithe barn on its south side. Orientated broadly east-west, it is approximately 51m long, 9m wide and built of coursed rubble and ashlar. The interior is divided into 14 bays with openings to both the north and south at the fifth and tenth bays. Those on the north side have large gabled porches, while those on the south are smaller. The walls are buttressed and the barn retains its original massive cruck-built timber roof, now stone tiled. The tithe barn is in the care of the Secretary of State. A 14th century two storey outbuilding, possibly a granary, lies to the east side of the yard, which is listed Grade I. This building is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. On the west side of the yard lie the ruins of a structure shown by part excavation to be a further medieval ashlar built barn of cruciform shape, aligned broadly north-south and originally approximately 40m long and 8.5m wide. Part of this West Barn was incorporated in a new barn of 1769, itself now derelict and fire-damaged. To the north of these remains lies a single storey rubble and ashlar building currently known as `The Stable'. This latter building forms part of the Grade I listed buildings at Barton Farm and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. To the south of the wall which now divides the yard from the gardens of Barton Farm is an ashlar built and slate-roofed waggon shed of post-medieval date. This Grade I listed building is also excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. Excavation has shown that, beneath layers of 19th century smithing debris, the yard contains medieval deposits relating to the use of the farmyard. The grange was planned and laid out by the Abbess of Shaftesbury in the early 14th century and remained in the abbey's possession until the Dissolution. To the west of the monument lies the medieval Barton Bridge which is the subject of a separate scheduling. Barton Farm (Barton House) which is an occupied building and listed Grade I, all fence posts, railings, paths, areas of hard standing, garden sheds, the waggon shed and shoring, the building known as `The Stable' and the granary are excluded from the scheduling; the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
The Medieval Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, (1975)
Pevsner, N , The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1975), 137
Pugh, RB (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume VII, (1975), 13
Pugh, RB (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume VII, (1975), 13
Pugh, RB (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume VII, (1975), 13
Burder, A W N, 'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in The Medieval Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon, Report On The Work Of, , Vol. Vol 39, (1917), 485-488
Haslam, J, 'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavations At Barton Farm, Bradford On Avon 1983, Interim Rept, , Vol. 78, (1983), 120-121


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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