Tithe barn

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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 — one tenth of a farm's produce which was given to the Church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory and independent farmers took their tithes there. The village priests would not have to pay tithes—the purpose of the tithe being their support—and some had their own farms anyway, which are now village greens in some villages.

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 prehistoric longhouses.

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 nevertheless surviving examples of medieval barns in England, some of them bearing the title "tithe barn" even if the barn may not have really been a tithe barn according to the English Heritage criteria.[2] The total number of surviving medieval barns (until 1550) in Britain may be estimated about 200.[3]




See also[edit]


  • Anthony Emery, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500, Cambridge 1996
  • Walter Horn, 'On the Origins of the Medieval Bay System', in: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 17 (1958), nr. 2, p. 2-23.
  • Walter Horn, Ernest Born, The Barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at its Granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St.-Leonard's, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1965.
  • Graham Hughes, Barns of Rural Britain, London 1985.
  • Malcolm Kirk, The Barn. Silent Spaces, London 1994.
  • Jeremy Lake, Historic Farm Buildings. An Introduction and Guide, London 1989.
  • Roland W. Morant, The Medieval Abbeys of England and Wales. A Resource Guide, Victoria, BC 2004, p. 502-511.
  • Eric Sloane, An Age of Barns. An Illustrated Review of Classic Barn Styles and Construction, New York 1967, 4th ed. 2005.


  1. ^ "Research on Harmondsworth Barn". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Thus the Great Coxwell "Tithe Barn" was not really a tithe barn according to English Heritage.
  3. ^ Lake 1989.
  4. ^ Piper, Marolyn. "The Lost Village of Hillam Burchard". Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  5. ^ http://www.cleevetithebarn.org.uk
  6. ^ "Local List 22nd February 2011" (PDF). Isle of Wight Council's List of Locally Listed Buildings. Isle of Wight Council. 22 February 2011. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Dunster Tithe Barn". Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Tithe barn of Tremblay-en-France". 

External links[edit]