Saturday, July 14, 2018

Great Coxwell, Oxfordshire

More shade

In the previous post, I featured a carving of the sun, and alluded to the fact that medieval churches are often good places to go to keep cool. This set me thinking. Which other buildings might one combine historical and aesthetic pleasure with the welcoming embrace of cool shade in a heatwave? An ancient stone barn, spacious, airy, and lacking large windows, could be such a place. One of my favourites is Great Coxwell barn, southwest of Faringdon. I expect it is a favourite of quite a few of my readers too, as it’s a National Trust property and has won the praise and attention of everyone from William Morris to that great photographer of place, Edwin Smith. I’ve blogged about it before – in fact it featured on one of my very first posts. Here’s part of what I wrote about it, back in July 2007:

It’s one of the barns built by Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire to store the corn produced on the monastery's far-flung estates. Built in around 1300 of glowing Cotswold stone, it’s a barn on a grand scale – it’s just over 150 feet in length and the doors are broad enough for the farm's biggest carts to drive straight in. Smaller openings in the walls are for owls to fly in and eat up any rats or mice rash enough to nibble away at the grain. Inside, from threshing-floor to rafters, the space soars like a cathedral – a comparison made by William Morris, one of this glorious building’s greatest admirers.

I’d encourage anyone who’s not visited this great barn to give it a go. If you’ve been already, and are anywhere within striking distance off the Berkshire-Oxfordshire borders, I don’t need to encourage you to visit again.

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My post about Edwin Smith, featuring his photographs of Great Coxwell barn and Didmarton church, is here.

The National Trust has visitor information about Great Coxwell barn on its site, here.


david terry said...

Oh, back when I was married (for twelve years) to the French, I used to go to the concerts every Summer at le Grange de Meslays outside of Tours. I had an exhibition there once. It's yet another enormous, 15th century tithe barn.....and this one was converted/restored in the 70's for the music festival orginally led by Stanislavsky. I wish a could post a photograph of it.

Thanks for your posting, david terry
Quail roost Farm, rougemont, NC, USA

Joe Treasure said...

Lovely atmospheric photo of the interior with those bluish tones below and yellower ones above. I love the roof-structure with its church-like pillars.

Philip Wilkinson said...

David: Grange de Meslays looks amazing. Thank you for pointing me in its direction.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Joe: Yes, it is church-like. Not all old barns have aisles, but those that do are spacious and have an abundance of extra roof timbers that makes them exciting to look at.