HOME FARM BARN, PUTTENHAM
Over 250 years of history and a new beginning
Standing at the edge of Puttenham below the Church, the barn has been part of the life of this agricultural village for more than two centuries. It was important enough to be included on Rocque's Map of Surrey in 1762, occupying its present position long before the road was re-routed to suit the owners of Puttenham Priory in 1824. It has seen many changes as needs and circumstances have altered in the farming world. In 1821, according to the Census, 64 of the 83 families in Puttenham were involved in agriculture, evidence that the people of the village still made their living from the land at the start of the great social and economic changes of the 19th Century.
These large Surrey barns are an indication of the prosperity of the farms when in the 18th Century large yields of corn were needed to feed the nation and barns were needed to store the harvest. When cheaper grain was imported from America early in the next century, farmers grew different crops to feed both livestock and the population. Over the years, potatoes, mangolds, swedes, oats and hops have been cultivated in the village: the kilns adjacent to Home Farm stand there still. When the large shire horses were replaced by machinery there was no need to cultivate oats as fodder, tractors had different needs. In 1908 Home Farm sold 3 waggons, 3 scotch carts and 7 cart-horses, signs of the changing times.
Home Farm Barn is typical of a Surrey barn with its weatherboarding, long steeply sloping tiled roofs known as catslides and waggon porch. Pevsner described the farm as being `vernacular Eighteenth century with good weather boarded barns'. The structure of Surrey barns reflects the readily available materials of timber and clay. The barn is mostly made of oak and much of the timber is re-used from other buildings, the timber frame resting on a rubble and Bargate stone plinth and the two doors in the porch having a top hung flap which would be opened to allow loaded carts inside. The huge roof is covered with 18 thousand handmade clay tiles hung over battens with iron nails or wooden pegs.
Barns were very valuable possessions: in 1702 William Tice of Puttenham, Yeoman, left to one of his sons the `lower half of the Barn with free liberty egress and regress to the said Barn and the Pond for water', the upper half being left to another son. Although the record does not name the farm precisely it could very well have been Home Farm Barn that Mr. Tice was leaving to his family, ensuring their future as farmers.
These noble buildings, as dignified as the farm horses that drew carts into their vast interiors, speak to us of our human needs for food, storage and harvest across the centuries. Since Spring 2005 a part of Home Farm Barn has become an Eco Camping Barn. Instead of shelter for animals, the Barn now offers simple overnight accommodation for walkers and cyclists - surely a vibrant use in harmony with the history of this amazing building.
Research by Nansi Taylor