Oaks Barn


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Near to Higher Birks Farmhouse, Birks Brow, Thornley, Preston, PR3 2TX


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Statutory Address:
Near to Higher Birks Farmhouse, Birks Brow, Thornley, Preston, PR3 2TX

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Ribble Valley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Field barn with an integrated cow shelter, C17 or early C18 with later alterations.

Reasons for Designation

Oaks Barn, Birks Brow, Ribble Valley, Lancashire is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * this C17 or early-C18 field barn retains early fabric, including its rubble-stone walls, internal stone partition and surviving cruck truss, all of which contribute to its historic character;

* despite the later alterations, the historic dual function of the barn with an integrated cow shelter remains legible.

Historic interest: * it is a good representation of regional agricultural practices, including the importance of cattle husbandry.

Group value: * with the nearby Higher Birks Farmhouse (listed Grade II).


Oaks Barn was built in the C17 or early C18 with an internal cruck-frame construction. In the North-West region crucks were commonly used for roof construction into the C18, but have rarely survived. The field barn is a combination building with an integrated partitioned-off cow shelter, known locally as a shippon, at one end; such buildings are found from the late C17 in the West Pennines, Cumbrian Fells, and the Lancashire Plain national farmstead character areas. They typically have three doorways at one end to provide access to the stalls and a central feeding (foddergang) passage; often the barn and cow shelter ends were not internally linked: Oaks Barn has two side doorways at one end to provide access to the former side stalls (the stalls are no longer extant), and although there is no external central doorway, there is a central opening in the internal partition.

Oaks Barn retains one raised-cruck truss. The cruck blades show evidence of rail holes suggesting that the truss was originally closed by a timber partition; it may also be evidence that the cruck blades have been reused from an earlier building, possibly a former farmhouse. The barn has a stone-wall envelope, possibly of one phase; however, slight differences in the stone work indicate that the wider east end and the narrower west end could be of different phases. The current extent of the barn is shown on an estate map (unknown date) standing in a field known as Lower Oaks Meadow. The building appears on the Parish of Chipping tithe map (Part II; 1840) where is it depicted with an L-shaped footprint; however, this is likely an error as the roughly contemporary First Edition Ordnance Survey map (1:10,560; 1847) depicts a T-shaped footprint similar to its current form. In the 1840s, the field barn was tenanted by Thomas Rigby of Higher Birks Farm (listed Grade II). The first Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1:2,500; 1881) also depicts Oaks Barn with its current T-shaped footprint. By the late C19, Oaks Barn formed part of Lower Birks Farm (later known as Birks Farm), located on the opposite side of Birks Brow. The original cruck-roof structure was partially replaced in the second half of the C19 by a queen-post truss roof structure; a single raised-cruck truss was retained to the east end. In the late C20 an opening was made in the west gable, and the building suffered a fire; part of the roof structure was replaced but the C19 roof trusses and surviving cruck truss were retained, and the slate tiles reused.


Field barn with an integrated cow shelter, C17 or early C18 with later alterations.

MATERIALS: rubble-sandstone walls with large sandstone quoins and some ashlar detailing; a slate roof with roof lights, and a stone ridge and coped gables.

PLAN: a broadly rectangular barn orientated roughly east to west with a cow shelter to the slightly wider east end giving an overall T-shaped footprint.

EXTERIOR: a single-storey barn, beneath an asymmetrical pitched roof. The south elevation has a full-height, wide central opening with alternating long and short quoins and a timber lintel. The easternmost bay projects forward and has two ventilation slits. Two C20 lean-to stores have been built against this side. The west gable has substantial stone quoins, a large late-C20 entrance with a stone lintel, and a boarded-up opening above with a stone surround and a concrete cill. The east elevation, which is wider than the rest of the barn, has substantial quoins and an entrance to each end with crudely-shaped, substantial stone lintels and plank doors with strap hinges. There is a central ground floor ventilation slit, and to the apex there is an opening with a late-C20 stone lintel. The left side of the roof finishes at a slightly lower level than the right side on this elevation. The north elevation has two rows of small square ventilation holes beneath the eaves of the western part; the slightly projecting western part is quoined.

INTERIOR: divided into two spaces by a substantial stone partition wall with large quoins, and a central entrance. The smaller but wider eastern compartment is considered to have served as a cow shelter with a hayloft above; the hayloft floor appears to have been replaced in the C19. The ground floor at this end is of earth and cobble. The larger western compartment is thought to have served as a storage barn and has a largely earthen floor. At the east end, the surviving raised-cruck truss embedded in the stone partition wall comprises a pair of blades joined by a saddle piece which has been damaged at one end, with a slightly eroded collar beam below, and cruck spurs and packing pieces either side of the blades; there is evidence that a lower collar beam has been removed and possibly partially reused as an additional packing piece for the right-hand blade. The roof trusses to the west end comprise a pair of triangular C19 queen-post trusses. The rest of the roof structure including the purlins, rafters and ridge piece dates to the late C20.


Books and journals
English Heritage, The Countryside Agency, Historic Farmsteads: Preliminary Character Statement - North West region
Lake, J, Adams, P, National Farm Building Types, (2013)
1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, published 1881
6-inch Ordnance Survey map, published 1847
Extract of estate map supplied by applicant (unknown date)
Township of Thornley-with-Wheatley in the Parish of Chipping, Tithe Map (Part II), published 1840


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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