Archaeological Standing Building Recording, Worcestershire

Border Archaeology (BA) has been commissioned to carry out a programme of Archaeological Standing Building Recording (ASBR) to Historic England/RCHME Level 2 at Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, with regard to a planning application for conversion of a traditional farm outbuilding into residential accommodation. The results of this programme of work may be summarised thus:

In Brief

Client: Private Individual Sector: Construction Services:

Archaeological Standing Building Recording

Location: Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

Key Points

  • The site at Oxnalls Farm is recorded on the Worcestershire Historic Environment Record (HER) as an undesignated heritage asset; the HER entry (WSM54498) describes it as a ‘partially extant 19th century unlisted farmstead with unconverted buildings. Regular courtyard plan with additional detached elements to the main plan. The farmhouse is detached and set away from the yard. Mapping suggests that a new farmhouse was constructed in the late 19th -early 20th century, replacing an earlier building that previously stood to the E of the current farmhouse’.

Summary

The building may be regarded as a largely intact example of a mid to late 19th century combination range, comprising a two-storey cartshed and granary with conjoined stable and hayloft, along with the remnants of a single-storey outbuilding attached to the northeastern end of the granary/cartshed range. Historic maps show that the traditional farm building was constructed at some time between 1843 and 1885, forming part of a regular ‘U-plan’ farmstead which is first depicted on the OS 1st edition 25-inch map of 1885.

This complex of outbuildings is slightly earlier in date than the existing farmhouse at Oxnalls Farm which was probably built c.1885-1890 (replacing an earlier cottage first shown on the Lindridge tithe map of 1843). The outbuildings were probably erected when the farmstead was occupied as a tenancy of the Bickley Estate, an extensive landholding in the vicinity of Knighton on Teme and Newnham. Mid-19th century newspaper records show that Oxnalls Farm (also referred to as ‘Oxlands’) was a medium-sized arable and livestock farm and the extant range of outbuildings reflects the prevailing mixed farming regime at that time.

The extant traditional farm outbuilding at Oxnalls Farm was built in a single phase during the mid to late-19th century with few subsequent alterations. The brickwork (laid in Flemish Stretcher Bond) and consistent architectural detailing (with frequent use of blue brick dressings for the doors and windows) clearly attest to the building having been erected in a single phase of construction.

Of particular interest is the cartshed/granary range which retains significant evidence of original fabric and fittings relating to its former function as a grain store, including its whitewashed walls, tight-fitted floorboards (upon which the grain would have been unloaded and processed), two trap doors and grain chutes.

Both the granary and the hayloft above the stable also have well-preserved kingpost roof structures, while the stable block has a largely intact brick cobbled floor at ground level. Limited alterations were made to the interior of the granary at some point during the 20th century, with the insertion of a plasterboard partition wall and ceiling in the northeastern compartment.

The traditional farm building at Oxnalls Farm be considered to be a well-preserved example of a mid to late-19th century combination range, forming part of a regular ‘U-plan’ courtyard farmstead constructed during the ‘High Farming’ period of the 1840s-70s and retaining significant evidence of original fabric, fixtures and fittings (particularly in the granary/cartshed range).

Results

The building may be regarded as a largely intact example of a mid to late 19th century combination range, comprising a two-storey cartshed and granary with conjoined stable and hayloft, along with the remnants of a single-storey outbuilding attached to the NW end of the granary. Cartographic evidence shows that the traditional farm building was constructed at some time between 1843 and 1885, forming part of a regular U-plan courtyard range of outbuildings which is first shown on the OS 1st edition 25-inch map of 1885.

This combination range is slightly earlier in date than the existing farmhouse at Oxnalls Farm which was probably built c.1885-1890 (replacing an earlier cottage first shown on the Lindridge tithe map of 1843); its construction reflects the fact that a mixed farming regime was practised there during the mid-late 19th century. It appears likely that the outbuildings were erected when the farmstead was occupied as a tenancy of the Bickley Estate, an extensive landed estate in the vicinity of Knighton on Teme and Newnham. Mid-19th century newspaper records show that Oxnalls Farm (then often referred to in census returns and other documentary records as Oxlands) was both an arable and livestock farm and had also diversified into the production of cider.

The extant traditional farm building at Oxnalls Farm may be considered to be a fairly well-preserved example of its type, built in a single phase during the mid to late 19th century with few subsequent alterations. The brickwork (laid in Flemish Stretcher Bond) and consistent architectural detailing (with frequent use of blue brick dressings for the doors and windows) attests to the building having been erected in a single phase of construction.

Of particular interest is the cartshed/granary building which retains significant evidence of original fabric and fittings relating to its former function as a grain store, including its whitewashed walls, tight-fitted floorboards (upon which the grain would have been unloaded and processed), two trap doors and grain chutes. Both the granary and the hayloft above the stable also have well-preserved kingpost roof structures, while the stable block has a largely intact brick cobbled floor at ground level. Limited alterations were made to the interior of the granary at some point during the 20th century, with the insertion of a partition wall and ceiling in the NW compartment.

It may be regarded as a fairly well-preserved example of a combination barn (comprising a granary, cartshed and attached stable) forming part of a regular ‘U-plan’ farmstead dating from the ‘High Farming’ period of the 1840s- 70s, when agricultural productivity was boosted by good manure from livestock increasingly wintered in yards or buildings, leading to a rapid growth in the numbers of farm buildings across the country, especially for cattle (Hathaway et al., 2012). In terms of its layout, it may be compared to a nearby Grade II listed combined granary, cartshed and stable of mid-19th century date at Eastham Court Farm, although the detailing is somewhat different.

The complex at Oxnalls Farm is distinguished by the fact that it was erected in a single phase of activity rather than being added to piecemeal (as many local farmsteads appear to have been) and by the survival of much original fabric, fixtures and fittings, although it may be noted that the hayloft over the stable, in particular, is in a somewhat dilapidated condition with many floorboards having been removed. The proposed conversion of this traditional farm building into a dwelling will thus ensure its long-term preservation, which is to be welcomed.