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A Guide to Medieval English Tithe Barns
A Guide for the Traveler

by James Griswold

Tithe Barns of NE Great Medieval Tithe Barns still dot the English countryside. These beautifully constructed barns are simple, functional structures with extraordinary interior timber framing. More than 2000 tithe barns were built in England in the years between the Norman conquest in 1066 and 1400. Possibly 200 remain standing.

This new book is a guide to the remaining barns. The author has researched construction techniques and provided diagrams and drawings to show the intricate details of how the massive structural timbers were joined. As the barn equivalent of a cathedral, these huge buildings were erected primarily from oak, one barn requiring some 450 trees to provide the timbers, rafters, and other structural elements. Massive stone walls and thatched roofs are among many distinctive architectural details.

A lengthy inventory lists existing barns by location and includes construction date and current use and condition. Among the many barns described is one at Coggeshall-Essex, which in 1979 was near collapse, but has been beautifully restored, and is now maintained by the National Trust.

These historic barns were built to store, process, and distribute the tithesóthe one-tenth tax of the landódue from everyone for the support of the Church. In that agrarian society, the barns functioned very much as the banks of the church. Today, many of these barns are now owned and maintained by the National Trust, while some are still in use on farms.

With more than 70 photographs and drawings, this volume is a thorough introduction to these unique English architectural masterpieces.

James W. Griswold, who has been researching and visiting Tithe Barns for some 20 years, is retired after serving as an administrator at both the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Nonfiction. History. February, 1999. 96 pages. 10 x 7" Black and White illustrations.
Paper, 0-914339-73-7 $15

Contact Information

Available from:, Strawberry Banke Museum giftshop of Portsmouth, NH, and Currier Museum giftshop of Manchester, NH

For orders of 25 or more, email: Jane Griswold Radocchia


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