Bright fu­ture for his­toric Chilterns barn

Chiltern Open Air Mu­seum’s vis­i­tor man­ager Sian Ham­mer­ton-Fraser tells us about the his­tory of Skip­pings Barn

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE - For more in­for­ma­tion about wed­dings at Chiltern Open Air Mu­seum visit www.coam.org.uk.

LO­CAL res­i­dents may re­mem­ber Skip­pings Farm in Chal­font St Peter, now in­cor­po­rated into the Epilepsy Cen­tre in Che­sham Lane. In 1993, Chiltern Open Air Mu­seum was de­lighted to be able to res­cue one of its build­ings, a good ex­am­ple of a tra­di­tional ‘Chilterns Barn’, which now re­sides in the beau­ti­ful set­ting of the mu­seum’s Vil­lage Green.

The barn would oth­er­wise have been de­mol­ished as it was re­dun­dant and posed an ob­struc­tion to de­vel­op­ment plans for the site.

The build­ing was an oak-framed barn of three bays, with a later sta­ble and hayloft added to the north end. The build­ing rests on a high brick plinth wall. It re­quired ex­ten­sive re­pair and restora­tion be­fore it could be opened to vis­i­tors and this work in­cluded re­plac­ing most of one of the orig­i­nal gable walls, some of the main oak posts, ap­prox­i­mately 15 per­cent of the clay roof tiles and 50 per­cent of the brick plinth.

Dur­ing the barn’s re-erec­tion in the sum­mer of 1994, the mu­seum’s team of staff and ded­i­cated vol­un­teers were fas­ci­nated to dis­cover more of the build­ing’s hid­den ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory.

The brick­work showed that the main door­way had orig­i­nally been much wider and there was ev­i­dence of a porch or wagon en­trance which had been re­moved at some point (fol­low­ing which those orig­i­nal builders then ‘bodged’ the re­pairs to the brick­work!)

Very lit­tle ‘con­crete’ in­for­ma­tion (par­don the pun) is known about the his­tory of this enig­matic build­ing. It’s thought to date from the 18th centu although no pre­cise date has yet been found in lo­cal records, although ev­i­dence from the struc­ture of the build­ing it­self sug­gests that it had been ex­ten­sively re-built at some poi When it first moved the mu­seum it was oc­cu­pied by lo­cal c ‘The Hawk and Ow beau­ti­ful oak gallery were built into it. Th Owl Trust no longer use the build­ing but the ad­di­tion of the beau­ti­ful stair­case has given it new life as a per­fect venue for wed­dings and cel­e­bra­tions.

In re­cent years, this stun­ning build­ing has hosted wed­ding re­cep­tions, birth­day par­ties, cel­e­bra­tions and even school work­shops in the lovely set­ting of the mu­seum’s grounds, and in re­sponse to in­creas­ing de­mand, for 2015 the mu­seum is ap­ply­ing for a li­cence to low cou­ples to hold their dding cer­e­mony in the at the mu­seum re­cently in their wed­ding fin­ery ac­u­lar pho­to­shoot, and ay will be held in the spring to showcase the pos­si­bil­i­ties of­fered by this unique and beau­ti­ful venue in the heart of the Chilterns.

The mu­seum has ap­plied for a full wed­ding li­cence so cou­ples can opt to tie the mat­ri­mo­nial knot in this clas­sic old Chilterns barn

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