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Field Barn

Field Barn

End of Church Street, Field Barn on right

At an auction sale of the Stratton Estate on 20 September 1920, lot 6, comprising land of 2.7 acres together with the butcher’s shop and other buildings was sold to Walter Cracknell, butcher, for £775.  The plot is shaded pink on the attached plan (parts 352 and 282 on the Ordnance map 1910 second edition).  The purchase was partly funded by a mortgage of £500 and was completed on 11 November 1920.

In 1933, a small (20’ x 89’)  parcel of land in the north east of the site was sold to HM Postmaster General on which to build a telephone exchange – to which a further 5’ slice of land on the southern side was added in 1950.  The 1933 indenture refers to the land to the north west of it being owned by Edward Clark who built Chaldwell Cottage and thereafter Westbrook Farm House, but no mention of a conveyance (or when) is included within the deeds.

Walter Cracknell remortgaged in 1938 and, in May 1941, one of the mortgagees (William Willcocks) obtained a court judgment against him for failure to pay interest.  On 24 June 1941 the remaining site (then referred to as ‘High Barn’ and outlined in pink on the attached plan) was sold to the mortgagee, who then leased it back to the Cracknells at a rent of 23 shillings per week.

On 20 July 1951 William Willcocks sold High Barn to Harold Bailey.  Mr Bailey obtained planning permission for a private house and shop (now Haig House) and, once the building was completed, transferred that property to his wife.  The butcher’s was then moved from Barn Cottage to the new shop.

In 1953, Mr Bailey sold Barn Cottage to John Bolton and on 30 June 1954, the remainder of the site was sold separately for the first time, as Field Barn, to William Drake.  Mr Drake was a direct descendent of Sir Francis Drake, whose sword resided for many years within the attic.  In 1979 Mr Drake sold approximately half the Field Barn garden to a developer (on which was built Dever Barn).

The barn has been dated to 17th century.  As well as housing animals it contained a slaughterhouse and cold store that was used to supply the butcher’s shop.  The slaughterhouse was in operation until the 1950s when improvements in hygiene standards resulted in its closure.  Mrs Drake kept goats and operated a small dairy from the end of the barn, and it has since been used as a garage and more recently a bicycle store.  The slaughterhouse is now used as a workshop and the RSJ from which animals were hung can still be seen.  The cold store is now a larder, utility and cloakroom - the walls (and floor) of the latter being lined with 4” of cork.  The barn was originally thatched and this was replaced with a shingle roof in 1971.  It was Grade II listed in 1983 and was extensively renovated in 1996 (and the far end rebuilt).

Field Barn house was originally built as stables with a hay loft above. It is likely that it was converted into living accommodation in 1953/4.  It was extended in 1963 (sitting room and bedroom) and again in 1983 (kitchen).

Our grateful thanks to Mike & Jacquie Radford for providing the above information.

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