The Abbey Barn is one of the West Country’s finest buildings. It was completed in the 1340s to store produce from the Glastonbury Abbey estates.
The barn’s excellent stonework, fine carvings and magnificent roof reflect the abbey’s great wealth during the middle ages. Exterior carvings include the symbols of the four evangelists (St Mathew, St Mark, St Luke and St John). At the gable ends are statues of the Virgin Mary and the figure of an abbot. The barn is mostly built from locally-quarried limestone.
The roof is made of oak, elm and chestnut and is one of the crowning achievements of West Country carpentry. Two tiers of crucks (naturally curved timbers used in pairs) support a covering of heavy stone tiles.
At harvest time the barn was alive with activity. Wagons were brought in for unloading through one of the huge doorways and left by the opposite door. Sheaves were stacked high to the roof, the many holes in the walls providing essential ventilation. During autumn and winter a stone floor that spanned the porches was used for threshing and winnowing the crops.
The abbey was dissolved in 1539, but the barn continued in use as a farm building until 1972.
Children outside Abbey Barn, c. 1930
Visitors assemble in front of Abbey Barn for the opening ceremony
The original Mapstone Wagon has been restored and displayed in the barn. For opening day Abbey Farm’s original tenants George and Louise Mapstone were recreated by actors from the Natural Theatre Company.
The barn features excellent stonework and fine carvings