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East barn at Middleton Court

A Grade II Listed Building in Bitterley, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3919 / 52°23'30"N

Longitude: -2.6765 / 2°40'35"W

OS Eastings: 354062

OS Northings: 277310

OS Grid: SO540773

Mapcode National: GBR BM.QHR7

Mapcode Global: VH844.K4FQ

Plus Code: 9C4V98RF+QC

Entry Name: East barn at Middleton Court

Listing Date: 17 December 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1468266

Location: Bitterley, Shropshire, SY8

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Bitterley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Summary


East Barn at Middleton Court, C17-C19.

Description

East barn at Middleton Court, C17-C19.

MATERIALS: a timber-framed construction, with red brick underbuilding, brick nogging, a stone and brick plinth and tiled roof.

PLAN: the barn is orientated north-south, and stands on the east side of a loose courtyard to the south of Middleton Court. It is abutted on the north gable by later ancillary structures (not listed).

EXTERIOR: the barn is a five-bay double-height structure. It is timber-framed, with small box framing originally of four bays in height, standing on a plinth of stone and brick. The upper boxes of the frame are infilled with red brick nogging, with blue brick forming alternating cross and diamond patterns. The bottom two boxes of the frame were replaced, presumably when the barn was converted, providing four looseboxes with a central storage bay. This involved the insertion of a series of stable doors with segmental arched brick heads, and flat-headed louvred openings. The central bay on the west elevation has full-height timber doors, and on the east elevation has a corresponding double doorway with a cambered head. On the west elevation the ground is lower, exposing the stone plinth. The north gable is timber-framed; the southern gable has been rebuilt in brick, and has an opening to the upper floor.

INTERIOR: the barn is five bays in length, with the central bay originally used for threshing, and with two storage bays to either side. It has been subdivided on the ground floor to form a series of four loose boxes with a central storage bay. This involved the replacement of the original floor with brick and cobble, with drainage gullies. An upper floor has been inserted in the outer bays; it is supported on two deep spine beams and regular joists. Internal partitions are horizontal timber boarding. The central bay is open to the roof, with a timber stair providing access to the upper floor (not inspected). The roof is assumed to match that of the southern barn, which has queen post trusses, with two tiers of trenched purlins and a ridge piece.

History

A settlement at Middleton is recorded in the Domesday Book, and the existence of a Norman motte and chapel suggest it was a significant site in the early medieval period. The earliest evidence for a farmstead on the site is the Tithe map of 1839, though fabric within the buildings suggests the building complex may have originated much earlier.

The farmstead consists of a pair of large timber-framed barns, with a series of lower ranges forming a three-sided courtyard. The house, Middleton Court, stands to the north of the group. The two principal barns appear to be a contemporary pair, with weighty scantling suggesting a date of the C18, or possibly the C17. Both are five bays, with the central bay originally open on both sides suggesting they may have been built for threshing.

Evidence suggests that the building complex underwent a major phase of renovation and development in the mid-to-late C19. Middleton Court was rebuilt in 1861, and this may have prompted a series of alterations and ‘improvements’ to the associated agricultural buildings. The original nogging of the two principal barns was replaced by polychromatic patterned brickwork, and the bottom two boxes of the timber frame were rebuilt in brick, as were two gable ends. The eastern barn was altered internally to create a series of looseboxes, and an upper floor was inserted into its outer bays. The south barn is also listed at Grade II.

The Tithe map shows a number of other buildings, which, with the barns, form a loose courtyard. While this general arrangement survives, the buildings themselves are likely to date from the mid-to-late-C19 redevelopment. Theses ancillary barns (not listed) appear to have been rebuilt upon earlier footprints, and have a consistent form of roof structure characteristic of the late C19, using bolted king post trusses. The rebuilding is likely to have taken place prior to 1885, as the Ordnance Survey map from that year shows the present arrangement.

Reasons for Listing

The east barn at Middleton Court is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest:

* one of a pair of late-C17 or C18 timber-framed barns which were refurbished in the C19, and which retain a significant proportion of fabric from those principal phases of development;
* the quality of decorative treatment is unusual on agricultural buildings, and reflects the high status of the farmstead;
* the barn retains internal features related to its C19 conversion, illustrating its use as animal shelters.

Historic interest:

* illustrating the evolution of the farmstead in the C19 from arable to livestock farming.

Group value:

* a pair of listed barns within a high status farmstead, which have a close visual relationship with the Grade II-listed Middleton Chapel, and with a scheduled motte, to the west.

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