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Church Farm, Lewknor, Oxfordshire, OX9 5TP

Gill, Jonathan (2009) Church Farm, Lewknor, Oxfordshire, OX9 5TP. Project Report. Oxford Archaeological Unit Ltd. (Unpublished)





Oxford Archaeology was commissioned by Regeneration Holdings Limited to undertake a programme of building investigation and recording at Church Farm, Lewknor, South Oxfordshire as part of the development of the site. The investigation covered several farm buildings at the site but was concentrated on the Grade I listed barn believed to have been constructed in the second quarter of the 14th century and recognised as one of Oxfordshire's most important medieval buildings. The significance of the building largely lies in the fact that it was originally constructed as a medieval hall house and was later abandoned and converted to a barn. The fact that it was converted to a barn, rather than adapted and modernised as a house with the insertion of a chimney stack and upper floor, has resulted in the primary fabric of the hall being relatively well preserved. The hall would have been a hugely impressive structure richly decorated with extensive cusping and with an open truss that would have been 'hardly paralleled for size in English timber-framed buildings.' (Morrey and Smith,1973). John Fletcher, who noted that the house was most likely built by John of Lewknor (Knight of the Shire in the 1330s-1350s), adds that the building must have been 'one of England's most impressive halls' (Oxoniensia XL, 1975) The interest of the building is enhanced by a suggestion that its construction may have been interrupted or curtailed by the Black Death. Physical evidence suggests that the building was intended to form part of a larger structure (possibly never completed) and the relatively light smoke blackening to the rafters suggests that although there was an open hearth the hall probably wasn't inhabited for a long period. Dendrochronology has provided felling dates for three timbers in relatively close proximity to the Black Death. Due to its significance the building has been subject to previous studies and programmes of recording, but these were hampered by difficulties of access and visibility. The current investigation in more favourable conditions has been of value and has increased our understanding of the structure. The principal features identified by the current works have been a series of mortices in the wall plate which have shown that there would have been two large projecting oriel windows to either side of the hall. The other main area where the current work has advanced understanding has been of the western end of the building. When the main previous studies were undertaken in the 1970s this area was almost entirely obscured by large modern grain bins and it was hoped that the removal of these would reveal further medieval fabric, or at least evidence of the building's original form. The bins have now been removed but unfortunately this has revealed that the west end was completely reconstructed in the post-medieval period, albeit with a small number of re-used timbers. A good record of this end of the building has been made which can be added to the overall archive of the building but it has not been possible to answer the many remaining questions regarding the original form of this end of the building. The building may have had a similar footprint to that surviving or it may have been intended to construct an adjoining range aligned with the point where the primary fabric currently ends. Other features identified in the current project have included a number of impressive and distinctive carpenters' marks.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Historic Buildings Recording and Investigation
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Oxfordshire
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
ID Code:170
Deposited By: Joseph Reeves
Deposited On:24 Feb 2010 14:51
Last Modified:22 Dec 2011 14:21

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