The Barn History

Dunster Tithe Barn is located in the beautiful medieval village of Dunster, a jewel in the crown of the Exmoor National Park.

Originally part of the Benedictine Dunster priory (which was an offshoot of Bath Abbey), there is thought to have been a barn on the site since the 14th Century, although the first documented record dates to 1498. The building appears to have been significantly remodelled in the 16th century and a detailed map of the site of c.1775 shows the barn as a large building in a compound which also included three ‘straw houses’ and a cart house (at the northern end).

The original barn was cruciform in shape, typical of tithe barns in Somerset, with a northern and southern porch with opposing doorways. At some point in history, the barn was raised in height and was reroofed. The timber doors on the porches are thought to be important early 19th Century doors, and recent dendrochronological (tree-ring) dating of one door post found that the timber was felled in the winter of 1614/15.

Both main doorways have heavy oak chamfered frames and there are slit windows in the end gables. The roof is beautifully constructed from oak beams which are still visible inside the barn (and apart from introducing tension wires, this roof was retained during the recent refurbishment). At a later date, several extra rooms were constructed as lean-to constructions (which now form part of the entrance hall and the meeting room).

There was at one time a suspended timber ‘threshing floor’ made of elm boards which were probably removed sometime in the 19th Century when the floor was levelled.

Despite many changes to the Barn throughout the centuries, some ancient features have been retained, including masons marks in the walls and even some 19th Century graffiti on the west wall, reading "A. Lone 1827" (however, we do not condone anyone thinking of adding more current graffiti to the barn!).

After a period in the mid 20th Century, when the barn fell into disrepair, a group of villagers decided that the building should be saved and restored. So, in 2006, work commenced on a five-year-long restoration to convert the ancient barn into a magnificent facility for the village and a space that can also be hired for dinner/dances, weddings, parties and other celebrations.


Dunster Tithe Barn

The barn is home to many local groups and activities throughout the week and often hosts open events (such as the popular Antiques Fair) at weekends. It is also available for private hire for conferences, parties and celebrations of all kinds and is a wonderful venue for weddings.