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The Tithe Barn at Rectory Farm, Thriplow

A Grade II Listed Building in Thriplow, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.0973 / 52°5'50"N

Longitude: 0.0987 / 0°5'55"E

OS Eastings: 543860

OS Northings: 246411

OS Grid: TL438464

Mapcode National: GBR L8M.FSM

Mapcode Global: VHHKN.NKK1

Entry Name: The Tithe Barn at Rectory Farm, Thriplow

Listing Date: 7 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1447455

Location: Thriplow, South Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire, SG8

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Thriplow

Built-Up Area: Thriplow

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire


A substantial timber-framed aisled barn, thought to have C14 origins as part of a significant medieval ecclesiastical estate, and later owned by a notable Cambridge College. Now (2017) in use for agricultural storage purposes.


An aisled barn, thought to have been built as a tithe barn for the Bishop of Ely in the C14 , and altered in the late C19 or early C20.

MATERIALS: the barn is timber-framed, the framing set upon low, clunch side walls, replaced in some areas with weatherboarded stud work on low brick plinths. The roof is covered with corrugated metal sheeting, replacing earlier thatch.

PLAN: the building is linear, aligned east-west on the southern boundary of the farmyard, and of double aisle form.

EXTERIOR: the building is formed of seven bays, with a double doorway forming the principal entrance on the north wall in the central bay. The doorway has double-ledged and braced, boarded doors. The low, aisle side walls extend on both sides of the double doorway with the pitch of their metal-sheet roof coverings possibly reflecting the line of the original or earlier roof slope prior to the replacement of the upper part of the roof structure. There is a single door opening to the west side of the main entrance to the barn, and sections of a low brick plinth. The east gable wall is largely plastered, with an inserted double doorway to the south side, and weatherboarding to the gable apex above a narrow band of glazed stud work. The west gable is similarly covered with a mixture of wide weatherboarding and plastered stud work, and has an inserted doorway to the centre, enclosed within a lower attached outbuilding (does not form part of this assessment). The rear (south) elevation has a single, small off-centre window opening.

INTERIOR: the building’s timber frame is largely intact, and is clearly legible within the building’s interior, which is a single, undivided space. The frame is formed around two arcades of substantial aisle posts, each arcade supporting an arcade plate. These plates, some formed with splayed scarf joints, extend the full length of the barn interior.  The aisle posts support longitudinal and transverse braces which extend upwards to meet the aisle plates and the tie beams of the aisle trusses respectively. Some braces are curved, others straight, the original members pegged, whilst some later replacements are face-nailed. Empty mortices indicate the location of missing braces.  In most bays, the aisle posts are connected to the aisle walls by short horizontal beams, but a number of aisle bays are now separated by low walls. Evidence of incremental repair and adaptation can be seen throughout the interior, including what appear to be a number of replacement aisle posts which do not feature the jowelled heads of the original frame members. A number of the original aisle posts have narrow diagonal trenches on one side face, possibly suggesting the presence of passing braces as part of an earlier roof structure, or of re-used timber. Sections of the building’s aisle roofs retain early rafters and riven laths, but the roof pitch above tie-beam level has been lowered, and the upper section of the roof trusses replaced by slender, iron truss members.


The building known as the Tithe Barn at Rectory Farm,Thriplow, is believed to have its origins in the early C14, and to have been built as a tithe barn for the Bishop of Ely's landholding in Thriplow. It subsequently passed into the ownership of Peterhouse College in Cambridge, and in 1780 was recorded as forming part of a large group of farm buildings associated with the Rectory (now Rectory Farm) in a survey of the Rectory landholding. The tithe barn is identified as the 'Wheat Barn' on the survey drawing, which shows other farm buildings, including a barley barn and attached cowhouse, a stable, hogsties, and a cart shed, with the Rectory located to the north-west of the tithe barn. The Rectory and the other buildings have since been demolished, although all were present on an 1840 plan of the site, which also showed the site surrounded by what is referred to as a moat, but which also might be drainage ditches. A 1930's photograph shows the tithe barn with a thatch roof covering to what is presumed to be the original roof structure. The building was subsequently altered, with the replacement of the original roof pitches above tie beam level with metal trusses. The building is no longer in active agricultural use (2017), but is used for storage purposes.

Reasons for Listing

The Tithe Barn at Rectory Farm Thriplow, in Cambridgeshire, a timber-framed aisled barn believed to have C14 origins as part of an important ecclesiastical estate, and later becoming the property of a notable Cambridge college, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as a legible example of aisled construction, one of England's most significant and influential vernacular building construction traditions, represented in high-status domestic and agricultural buildings throughout the medieval period and beyond, and as a complex example of a timber- framed structure, displaying many aspects of the development of important regional historic carpentry techniques;

* Historic interest: for its original function as a key component of an important medieval ecclesiastical estate, built to receive agricultural tithes and later becoming part of the landholding of a notable Cambridge college;

* Degree of survival: despite the loss of the upper section of the roof structure, the proportion of surviving historic fabric is sufficient to provide clear evidence of the building’s original form, function and constructional detailing, and to confirm the claim to special interest in a national context.

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