Dunster Tithe Barn


The Fabric of the Buildings

The first stated aim and objective of the Tithe Barn Steering Group is to restore and conserve this important building.

The Building Condition Report as prepared by Shaplands - Chartered Surveyor, identifies all those parts of the building which are defective or in a poor state of repair.

The Schedule of Works of Refurbishment and Proposed Development, also prepared by Shaplands, sets out in detail the description and specification of the work to be carried out.

Dunster Tithe Barn - coloured plan

The defects identified, together with details of the restoration work, can be summarised as follows:-

The Tithe Barn and Straw Houses (as shown edged red and blue above)

a.  The Roof

The roof is covered in natural slates. Many are cracked, have slipped or are missing. These slates are carried on "A" frame oak trusses which show a rotation in a southerly direction. There are lead valleys and cast iron rainwater goods.

The slate roof will be stripped and the slates then re-used or matched.  All the roof timbers will be completely overhauled and treated against wood boring beetle attack. All timber repairs or replacement will be in green oak. The roof will
be insulated but ensuring that the existing exposed main timbers remain visible. Rainwater goods where defective will be replaced with cast iron ones.

b.  Entrance Door and Windows

The main east and west winnowing oak barn doors are in poor condition and have been patch repaired in the past. These doors will be repaired and made good in green oak, or air dried oak, thus removing sections of patched soft wood where previously used.  The side framing timbers, hinges and overhead beams will be repaired and made good.  Each of these doors has five different stages of opening from small single access to the whole door being open.  All other doors will be repaired or formed with green oak.

c.  Main Walls

External - These are of random rubble stone and where cracked or in need of repointing, will be made good with lime mortar.  A new door opening to replace an existing window is to be made, linking the Tithe Barn with the walled garden and which will be made from air dried oak.

Internal - All internal wall surfaces of the main hall and straw houses will be repaired with lime based finish and redecorated in accordance with Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (S.P.A.B.) specification.

All timber work where affected by woodboring beetle attack, dampness or dry rot will be either replaced or treated by specialists. It is the intention of the Steering Group to form a kitchen in one of the former straw houses.

Former Joinery Workshop (as edged yellow above)

This is a single storey early Victorian addition constructed of random stone rubble walls with part slate, part corrugated sheeted roof.

The roof will be made good in natural slate to match the main Tithe Barn roof.  Internal wall surfaces will be made good with lime based finish and redecorated in accordance with S.P.A.B. specification, using natural materials for all surfaces, both vertical and horizontal.

This room, together with the lobby/reception area hatched blue on the attached plan, will form the basis of a permanent exhibition area tracing the  history of  Dunster. This area will also have direct pedestrian access from the Tithe Barn into the village gardens through a new access door to be formed from an existing Tithe Barn window.

Former Forge, Store, Rest Room and Cement Store (as edged green on the plan)

This is a further single storey extension built in the 1950's and directly adjoining
the former joinery workshop.  This building at present comprises three rooms and toilet/wc, and is constructed of block and rendered walls under a double-roman clay tiled roof.  The room arrangement will be changed by replacing the existing toilet and rest room to form new ladies and gents toilets and disabled facilities. The other two rooms will be merged into one to form a new meeting/function room for use by the proposed Youth Club, Scout and Cubs.

All internal surfaces will be lime based finish with lime wash decoration in accordance with S.P.A.B. specification. The double-roman roof tiles will be retained.  The rendered blockwork to the front elevation will be clad externally with an appropriate weatherboard as agreed with Exmoor National Park, and then treated and finished in accordance with listed building regulation requirements.

The Yard and Boundary Walls

At present the yard, which has a variety of surfaces, is completely overgrown. It is available for parking over its entire area but it is proposed to greatly restrict the impact of vehicles on the Tithe Barn and associated buildings by only allocating a minimal area for parking, including disabled spaces.

Views have been expressed however, that more car spaces than we have shown on the submitted plans, could possibly be provided in the yard. This is a matter for future discussion and consideration.

The yard/parking surfaces, and all landscaping materials and structures will be carefully chosen to blend in with the Tithe Barn as much as possible. Final details will be agreed with the Exmoor National Park Authority.

The boundary walls are primarily constructed with natural stone. These will be retained, repointed and made good.


It can be seen from the above that the existing original features of the Tithe Barn will be restored and repaired using natural materials appropriate to the age and character of the building.

We shall be working in partnership throughout the restoration programme with the Somerset Building Preservation Trust, and every effort will be made to comply with the wishes  and requirements of the Exmoor National Park Authority.

Back to Project main page

Site Index