Posted: Fri, 10 Aug 2012 10:57
Adjacent to Bank Farmhouse is a small but perfect, listed threshing barn. Not only has it been re-built from scratch on the inside, utilising a wooden weight-bearing super sheep's wool insulated structure, but from the outside the old timber frame and hopelessly energy inefficient brick infill panels could remain, leaving the barn with immense integrity to its original unrestored form.
The corrugated panelled roof was replaced with what would have originally kept it weatherproof – a long wheat straw thatch. We grew our own wheat straw using an ancient variety of widgeon seed. It only took two years(!) as the first year's crop did exceptionally well at feeding the pigeons and squirrels. Lessons were learnt and better weather within the last month's growing to harvest was prayed for!
God looked after our crop and the sun shone and the winds died down (a bit!) and so in late August 2011 our crop was harvested with the help of Mr Richard Siddorn, his 70 year old binder, Neil Armstrong and Paul Hurst as staunch unflagging determined harvesters, myself and my two giggling then easily bored children and my long suffering father – John Boustead.
Incredibly a spool of Blue Bell baler twine salvaged from the old threshing barn and still preserved in its original brown paper was placed on the spool holder on Mr Siddorn's old baler and hey presto it harvested all our eight acres of long wheat into small bundles without one break. Mr Siddorn told us this had never been experienced by himself as the modern Polish equivalent had never been so reliable – so at least the string bit was easy!
Weather stayed fair, straw bundles were stooked and pitchforked into a barn right up to the 'final straw'! We now have a greater appreciation of the saying!
In March 2012 Mr Draycott, master thatcher came and restored our barn roof to its former glory using both our own, and Mr Siddorn's long wheat straw.
Brassey's Contract Cottage was also given a new topping and an attractive authentic ridge (not a decorative straw pheasant in site!) as it was some 14 years since it had been thatched and it was looking sad compared to the wonderful look of Bank Farm Barn.
The original other farm buildings at Bank Farm have been left for the habitation of bats, swallows and owls, having just been re-roofed and will now remain 'wildlife friendly'.
Very best wishes
The photo shows the end wall of the threshing barn with its smart new thatch.