The three oldest barns in the world are all located within a few miles of each other in Central England. These barns all date to Medieval times and some are linked to the Knights Templar. There will be no conspiracy theories mentioned here (sorry Dan Brown) but we’ll take a moment to look at some of the most historic buildings in the world.
Located in a park called Cressing Temple near the villages of Witham and Braintree in Essex two of the barns can be traced back to the Knights Templar in Medieval times. They were some of the earliest and largest possessions of the knights and one is the oldest timber-framed barn in the world. The Templars occupied in the land in 1136 and were ever expanding as more and more land was added to the estate, growing to 14,000 acres. Proceeds from farming the land went to fund the Crusades in the Holy Lands. When King Edward II dissolved (by force) the Templars in 1312 the Knights Hospitaller took over and continued farming the land all the while preserving the Templar records as part of their own. In 1541 the Hospitaller were dissolved and the manor was granted to private hands (Baron Exchequer John Smyth) by King Henry VIII. New buildings were built over time and a garden was planted during Tudor times. Today the grounds are open to the public and are a popular venue for weddings.
Three barns are situated on the property. The oldest is the Barley Barn, built about 1220 and modified since. It is the oldest standing timber-framed barn in the world. The barn had to be strong enough to support the weight of its roof, believed to be about 55 tons, and is 118 feet long by 45 feet wide. The Wheat Barn was built around 1280 using slightly more modern joints and braces. Both barns were laid out using the most modern construction techniques of the time and built using locally grown oak. The third barn on site, The Granary, was built around 1575 by William Smyth (John’s son) and is still the largest granary in Essex. It was also used in its lifetime as a malting house and a court house.