Cruck Barn at Leigh Court Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014894
Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981
Date of most recent amendment: 04-Sep-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Malvern Hills (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 78349 53506
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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.
As the only upstanding structure of Leigh Court Manor, the barn plays a key role in our understanding of the economy and agricultural interests of Pershore Abbey. Space in a medieval barn was utilised to the full, and had to be in direct proportion to the volume of the annual harvest. The capital investment required in the construction of a barn of this size would have been considerable, and it therefore symbolises both the resources available to the manor, and the scale of agricultural operations over which it had control. The high status of the manor is further supported by documentary references to its sometime role as the abbot's residence. The barn is the largest recorded cruck structure in the country, and is a fine example of medieval vernacular architecture, which retains most of its original features. Thus the carpentry techniques of the time can be studied in detail, and the method of construction of the barn, and any modifications and repairs which took place to the structure during its working life, can be understood. The floor of the barn will retain environmental evidence for the activities which took place there, including the species harvested and the length of use of the barn. The monument is open to the public, providing visitors with a striking example of medieval architecture and technology, and of the social and economic power of the medieval monastic community.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a medieval barn,
situated near the confluence of Leigh Brook and the River Teme, just above
their floodplains. The barn, once part of the manor of Leigh Court, is of base
cruck construction with ten bays and two porches, and is the largest cruck
structure in the country. The barn is Listed Grade I and is in the care of the
Secretary of State.
The manor of Leigh is mentioned in Domesday, and belonged to Pershore Abbey,
serving on occasion as the residence of the abbot. After the Dissolution the
manor passed to William Colles, but was lost by his son to Sir Walter Devreux
of Castle Bromwich in 1617. Devereux built what is now Leigh Court Farm, some
20m east of the barn, and the ownership of the manor stayed with the Devreux
family until 1742. The construction of the now dismantled railway in 1864-5
revealed evidence for some of the other manorial buildings, which were
apparently destroyed by fire, to the north of the Elizabethan house. The barn
itself is the only medieval structure still standing, and has been dated to
the 14th century.
The barn is aligned roughly south west to north east, and measures around 40m
by 11m. The south east wall has two gabled porches opposite cart entrances in
the north wall. The main roof is half hipped and tiled, with an outshut to the
south east, and stands over 11m high at its apex. The barn's timber frame
stands on a plinth of coursed red sandstone blocks, which averages 0.75m high
and 0.5m thick. At each bay division the lowest block is pitched inwards in
the form of a buttress. Most of the buttresses, and much of the original
stonework elsewhere, has been encased or replaced in brick. Internally, the
ten bays are separated by nine full cruck trusses, each cruck blade extending
in a single sweep from the plinth to just below the ridge beam. The cruck
blades vary in height, depending on the timber available; the heads of some
reaching to within 0.3m of each other, where they are tied by a saddle beam
just below the ridge. In other cases the saddle beam is 1.5m below the ridge
beam, which is carried on a vertical dwarf post. The crucks are tied
longitudinally by the ridge beam and purlins, and transversely by a collar
beam with arched braces. Both crucks and wall posts are set on a sill beam.
The two end crucks reach to collar height, above which the roof is hipped. The
wall frame consists of vertical studs rising from the back of each cruck blade
to the wall plate, with each bay originally having only one intermediate stud.
This design allowed the weight of the roof to be transmitted to the crucks
through the purlins and principal rafters rather than through the wall fabric
itself. Subsequent to restoration, each wall panel now has a horizontal
subdivision, the lower half of which is filled with brick. The upper sections
retain cleft oak stave-and-wattle panels, some of which are original. The
upper panels of the gable ends, and the porch fronts, are weatherboarded. The
two porches open onto the third and seventh bays of the barn and are also
cruck built. Each has two trusses, which span over 5m across the sill beams.
The outshut between the porches is occupied by brick pigsties with fenced-off
cobbled yards. To either side of the porches are brick ancillary chambers with
doors through the weatherboarding at the gable end. There is no access to the
outshut area from within the barn.
The barn's packed earth floor is crossed by two flagstone threshing floors
which extend between the porches and the cart doors. Both cart entrances have
cobbled, ramped approaches which extend for roughly 5m from the north west
side of the barn and are included in the scheduling. Their original
stone-edging can be clearly seen at the western ramp, which also retains a
large stone door stop.
The east end of the barn is partitioned off internally by a brick wall, and
this area houses a small commercial cider mill and press which is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.
The wooden gates at the south west, and north east and south east corners of
the barn, the electricity transformer to the south east, and all drain covers,
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features
is included. Within the barn, all English Heritage fixtures and fittings and
the electricity meter are excluded from the scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 27542
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Page, W, Willis-Bund, J W (editors), The Victoria History of the County of Worcester: Volume IV, (1924), 102-4
Charles, F W B, Horn, W, 'Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians' in The Cruck-Built Barn Of Leigh Court, Worcestershire, England, , Vol. 32(i), (1973), 5-29
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