899/24/409 MILL LANE
Monastic barn of Titchfield Abbey at F
ern Hill Farm
(Formerly listed as:
TITHE BARN AT FERN HILL FARM)
A medieval monastic timber-framed, aisled barn with hipped tiled roof. The barn is approximately 50m long by 15m wide, with timbers dated by dendrochronology to 1407-1409. Constructed of oak, limestone tile and brick.
EXTERIOR: The east (front) side and north end are weatherboarded, and the west (rear) side and south end are of limestone blocks. Two wagon entrances to the east side are opposed by two double-plank door entrances to the west. There are ventilation slits and windows, both with brick dressings, to the west wall and cement buttresses to the south wall. The wagon entrances have hipped tiled roofs with arched braces.
INTERIOR: The bays are composed of alternate major and minor trusses. The jowled arcade posts of the principal trusses have arched braces to the tie beams; those of the intermediate trusses have jointed crucks to stub tie or false hammer beams. Purlins are clasped between principal rafters and under-rafters. The under-rafters end at collars. There are some arched wind braces. Short king post trusses from the collars, with ridge braces, support the ridge. The framing is quite unusual with the use of false hammer beams, under-rafters and short king-posts.
The east facing wagon entrances have arched braces to the tie beams with queen struts above. The west facing entrances can be seen to be later insertions by their lack of internal framing.
The free standing C20 shed within the barn is not of special interest.
HISTORY: The barn stands in the area of the outer precinct of the former Premonstratensian abbey at Titchfield. The Premonstratension order was founded in 1120 by St Norbert at Premontre, near Laon, France. Titchfield Abbey, called the Abbey of St Mary and St John the Evangelist, was founded in 1232 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. It was the last of 33 Premonstratensian houses of that order to be founded in England. The abbey estate comprised 15 manors, containing 60 villages and had 500 tenants. It had 1000 acres of arable land and 1500 sheep. In the early C13 the abbey estates used the open field system of agriculture, but by the later C13 and into the C14 much of the abbey's lands were enclosed and sheep rearing began to take over from arable farming. The abbey barn, built to centralise grain storage, was not built until the early C15. The abbey was visited by Richard II and Henry V on his way to the wars in France. Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou enjoyed part of their wedding celebrations at the abbey.
Following the suppression of Titchfield in 1537 part of the abbey was converted into a mansion, known as Place House, by Thomas Wriothesley who had received it from King Henry VIII. Most of the house was demolished in 1781 by the Delme family who had acquired it 1742, in order to provide materials for a new house they built in Fareham. The barn, however, survives substantially intact, but with some later alterations, following the Dissolution when stone became available to replace wooden walling, and in the late C18 or early C19 with the addition of brickwork.
The dendrochronology felling dates for the main structure of the barn are spring 1407 and winter 1408/9, and that for the timbers of the north porch is 1560-62. It would appear that the wagon entrances were enlarged and rebuilt, probably when stone became available from the adjacent monastic buildings at the time of the Dissolution.
To the north of the barn and west of the abbey is a series of five fishponds, which are scheduled alongwith the main remains of Titchfield Abbey (scheduled monument 26713). The abbey was the subject of a Guardianship agreement in 1922.
Conservation Area Character Assessment, Titchfield Abbey, Fareham Borough Council website.
http://www.fareham.gov.uk/council/general/cpa/titchfieldabbey.pdf - [accessed 12/10/09]
Fareham Borough Landscape Assessment (1996), Chapter 2: Formative influences. From the Farham Borough Council website.
http://www.fareham.gov. uk/council/departments/planning/landscape/character/chaptertwo.asp#a10 - [accessed 12/10/09].
Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory.
http://www.dendrochronology.net/V6%202007/hamptt.htm - [accessed 13/10/09]
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The C15 monastic barn at Fernhill Farm is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as one of the few surviving great medieval abbey barns nationally in terms of survival of fabric and monumental proportions.
* Architectural interest: as a medieval building with unusual timber framing, securely dated to 1407-09, of exceptional interest in terms of structural construction and craftsmanship.
* Historic interest: as relating to agricultural monastic life in Britain from the early C15 onwards and as an important part of the history of the Premonstratensian abbey at Titchfield.
Listing NGR: SU5423806617