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Threshing Barn at High Trees Farm

A Grade II Listed Building in Polstead, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.0202 / 52°1'12"N

Longitude: 0.8919 / 0°53'30"E

OS Eastings: 598522

OS Northings: 239706

OS Grid: TL985397

Mapcode National: GBR SLL.B9D

Mapcode Global: VHKFD.DHW4

Entry Name: Threshing Barn at High Trees Farm

Listing Date: 7 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1446967

Location: Polstead, Babergh, Suffolk, CO6

County: Suffolk

District: Babergh

Civil Parish: Polstead

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk


Early C19 threshing barn.


Early C19 threshing barn.

MATERIALS: weatherboarding over a timber-frame on a high plinth of red brick laid in Flemish bond, and corrugated asbestos roof covering.

PLAN: rectangular seven-bay plan with two threshing floors, two gabled porches to the north, and a later C19 extension to the south. At the south-western corner the barn is attached to the chaff house which is being separately assessed as part of the stable.

EXTERIOR: the large barn has a steeply pitched roof with plain bargeboards at the gable ends. On the north side, the two gabled porches in the second and sixth bays have plank double-leaf doors with strap hinges. In the centre on the south side, the later C19 extension is constructed of gault and red brick and has a lean-to, slate-clad roof. It has two bays, the one on the right being open-fronted. The extension is flanked by large plank doors which open onto the two threshing bays. The double-leaf doors on the left hand side have strap hinges and are probably C19, whilst the sliding door on the right is later. On the east gable end a window or raised doorway has been blocked and covered in weatherboarding.

INTERIOR: this has two threshing floors in the second and sixth bays, the one to the west retaining its yellow brick covering. The seven-bay collar roof truss has clasped purlins, diagonal bracing bolted onto the principal rafters, and bolted knee braces between the tie beams and principal posts. The collar beams are at bay and half-bay intervals. The wall frames have closely spaced studs with primary down bracing. There is much re-used timber in the framing.


Analysis of existing listed farm buildings of all types indicates that the period between 1500 and 1700 was significant for the numbers of farmsteads developed within the county, particularly in central and north-east Suffolk. A small number of pre-1500 survivals are thinly scattered throughout the county, whilst post-1700 buildings are more evenly distributed from the west to the coastal areas with the exception of the southern part of Suffolk Coastal District. The varied patterns of land tenure, from the post-Dissolution distribution of monastic lands to the carefully-planned C19 estate developments in the east of the county resulted in different phases of investment and development at different times.

Different soil conditions meant that certain areas were better suited to cereal production, whilst others, notably in the eastern coastal districts where lighter soils predominate, favoured livestock grazing, with a much smaller proportion of the land ploughed to produce feed crops. These different regimes required different types of buildings: in east Suffolk, an area where dairy farming produced great wealth, large-scale storage facilities for arable crops was far less likely to be needed than it was in the west of the county where grain production predominated, and where large barns were needed.

The size, and relative wealth of the farm holding, whether owned or tenanted also influenced the level of investment in farm buildings. The late enclosure of land in the east of the county led to the development of new planned farmsteads by large estates. Most other areas of Suffolk were farmed by yeoman farmers who were more likely to extend and adapt existing buildings rather than engage in wholesale redevelopment. In many parts of the county, therefore, there is a significantly high rate of survival of pre-C18 farm buildings and farm houses.

The period between 1770 and 1870 was the most significant phase of farm building development throughout England. Rising grain prices from the 1760s into the early C19, and the impact of agricultural improvement, brought about a significant change in the extent of arable production in Suffolk, accompanied by further investment in farm buildings of all types – not only barns, but also stables, granaries and buildings and enclosures for livestock.

The farmhouse and granary at High Trees Farm date to the C16 or C17 and are the oldest buildings on the farmstead. In the will of the wool merchant Thomas Spring of Newstead Manor, dated 1523, the property was left to John Spring of Hitcham. It passed to Richard Bran of Boxford and then to his son John who died in 1610. After this the farmstead belonged to Thomas Fones and his son Samuel who left it to his granddaughter Alice Haw in 1703. By the early C19 the farmstead had been acquired by the Strutt family.

The threshing barn is shown on the Tithe map of 1840 and probably dates to the early C19. The barn for storing and threshing corn is the most important and impressive building on a farm and is usually the largest. The traditional threshing barn plan, comprising a threshing floor with opposing doors and flanking storage bays, remained comparatively unaltered between the C12 and early C19, although the gradual demise of large, cross-ventilated threshing bays followed the advent of the threshing machine in the late C18. The Ordnance Survey maps of 1886, 1904 and 1959 depict the barn with two extensions: one at the centre on the south side, and another longer one attached to the south-east corner at a 45 degree angle. This mirrors the plan of the tack room and chaff house attached to the stable which adjoins the south-west corner of the barn, creating a butterfly plan. The south-east extension has since been removed.

Reasons for Listing

The threshing barn at High Trees Farm, built in the early C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a well preserved example of an early C19 timber framed threshing barn and has an impressive spatial character, one of the most distinctive qualities of this building type;

* its plan form with two threshing bays remains legible, and the timber frame is substantially complete, retaining a high proportion of its collar roof truss and wall frames.

Historic interest:

* it was built during a period in which English agriculture was the most advanced in the world. Many farmhouses and agricultural buildings were built or rebuilt as a result of increased agricultural prosperity, and the stable is a good example of this process.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with the farmhouse, granary and stable, all listed at Grade II, which form a significant group representative of traditional forms of construction and farming practice.

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