The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, December 9, 2021

Sussex auction house to sell St John's Barn Summers Place
The barn has roots going back to Tudor times. Courtesy of Tom Ames Photography.

BILLINGSHURST.- Summers Place Auctions has compared the St John's barn to the ultimate 3D Puzzle as the buyer will have the chance to assemble the barn on their own land following a detailed legend and helped by all timbers properly marked. If you enjoy painstakingly rebuilding it beam by beam then it could be yours for a six-figure sum on the 18th May.

The barn has roots going back to Tudor times and such structures are rare to find. The owner, Nigel Warren-Thomas, 70, a chartered surveyor, bought them for a retirement project 20 years ago but never found the time. He has done a lot of research into the history of the barn , which was built in the 18th century but the framers who put it up are thought to have used some timber from earlier structures dating back to the Tudors.

The magnificent barn was built within the original grounds of the Order of the Knights of St John Hospitallers in Suffolk where they first based themselves in 1154. The original part of the thatched roofed, wattle and daub clad oak framing of the building's core was constructed between 1760 and 1780, but some of the oak timbers indicate that they had been incorporated in an earlier building, which could well have been dating back to the time when the farm was owned by Sir Thomas Gresham, a 16th-century merchant who worked for Edward VI and Elizabeth I and founded the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

In total the 300 pieces weigh 20 tonnes. It is about 51 feet long and 20 feet wide and will be approximately 26 feet tall once it has been rebuilt.

Nigel Warren-Thomas says: "It comes with its own legend, which is crucial as no two timbers are the same. If a barn hasn't been taken down properly with every timber marked, it is virtually impossible to assemble it again. The buyer will need to engage a team of specialised carpenters to rebuild the barn and it will make a wonderful house, annex or a party venue - with planning permission. This barn has the DNA of England run through its timber. "

The barn will be sold at Summers Place Auctions on Tuesday, 17th May.

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