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Tithe barns in Europe

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Former tithe barn in Jesberg, Germany
Tithe barn in Jesteburg, Germany

A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing rents and tithes. Farmers were required to give one-tenth of their produce to the established church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory, and independent farmers took their tithes there. The village priests did not have to pay tithes—the purpose of the tithe being their support. Some operated their own farms anyway. The former church property has sometimes been converted to village greens.

Many were monastic barns, originally used by the monastery itself or by a monastic grange. The word 'grange' is (indirectly) derived from Latin granarium ('granary'). Identical barns were found on royal domains and country estates.

The medieval aisled barn was developed in the 12th and 13th centuries, following the examples of royal halls, hospitals and market halls. Its predecessors included Roman horrea and Neolithic long houses.

According to English Heritage, "exactly how barns in general were used in the Middle Ages is less well understood than might be expected, and the subject abounds with myths (for example, not one of England's surviving architecturally impressive barns was a tithe barn, although such barns existed)".[1]




There are surviving examples of medieval barns in England, some of them known as "tithe barns". English Heritage established criteria to determine if barns were used as tithe barns.[2] The total number of surviving medieval barns (dated up to 1550) in Britain may be estimated about 200.[3]


There are many extant barns that date from after the Medieval period and may be called "tithe barns" by their owners or councils. These include:





See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Research on Harmondsworth Barn". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b The Great Coxwell "Tithe Barn" was not really a tithe barn, according to English Heritage.
  3. ^ Lake, Jeremy (1989). Historic Farm Buildings: An Introduction and Guide. London: Cassell Illustrated. ISBN 978-0713719697.
  4. ^ Piper, Marolyn (4 December 2006). "The Lost Village of Hillam Burchard". Aberford People. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  5. ^ "The History of the Tithe Barn". Bishop's Cleeve Village Hall - The Tithe Barn. Cleve Tithe Barn. 14 December 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  6. ^ Baxter, Stephen. "Medieval Bourn: A Cambridgeshire Village in the Middle Ages". Academea. Burlington Digital Print Limited. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  7. ^ Pilgrim, Tom (15 January 2017). "Centuries old tithe barn given boost by new grant: Volunteers want to restore the rare sixteenth-century barn for community use". Cambridge News. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Local List 22nd February 2011" (PDF). Isle of Wight Council's List of Locally Listed Buildings. Isle of Wight Council. 22 February 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  9. ^ https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1318824
  10. ^ "HISTORY OF TITHES AND THE BARN". Dunster Tithe Barn. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Melling Tithebarn Arts Association - The Tithebarn". MTAA: Melling Tithebarn Arts Association. Melling Tithebarn Arts Association. Archived from the original on 9 February 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Tithe barn of Tremblay-en-France". Seine-Saint-Denis Tourisme. Comité Départemental du Tourisme.
  13. ^ Prieuré du Mont-Saint-Michel Site Pelerin-montsaintmichel.org
  14. ^ Écouen
  15. ^ Base Mérimée: Dammarie-en-Puisaye, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French)

Further reading[edit]

  • Emery, Anthony (1996). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500. Vol. 1, Northern England. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521497237.
  • Emmons, James BT (2015). Artifacts from Medieval Europe (1st ed.). Greenwood.
  • Horn, Walter (1958). "On the Origins of the Medieval Bay System". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. 17 (2): 2–23. doi:10.2307/987918. JSTOR 987918.
  • Horn, Walter; Born, Ernest (1965). The Barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at its Granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St.-Leonards. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520005723.
  • Hughes, Graham (1985). Barns of Rural Britain. London: Herbert Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0906969366.
  • Kirk, Malcolm (1994). The Barn: Silent Spaces. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. ISBN 978-0500341353.
  • Morant, Roland W. (2004). The Medieval Abbeys of England and Wales: A Resource Guide. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing. pp. 502–511. ISBN 978-1412026048.
  • Sloane, Eric (1967). An Age of Barns: An Illustrated Review of Classic Barn Styles and Construction (2005 – 4th ed.). Voyageur Press.

External links[edit]