Slamseys Art in The Barley Barn

The Barley Barn stands in the corner of our farm yard. To the east are the traditional farm buildings – the old cowshed, another old Essex barn and the house while to the west is the working farm yard with modern grain stores and sheds.

The Barley Barn was probably built around 1800 and appears to have been cobbled together from several older buildings, with some of the posts dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. No longer suitable for modern agriculture, the Barley Barn lay virtually unused and neglected with rope holding down the roof, rafters rotting away and some decidedly dodgy looking brickwork at the base. At the beginning of 2011, faced with expenditure just to keep the barn standing (it’s a Listed Building so letting it fall down was not an option) we sat down to work out a Grand Plan to renovate the barn so it could be put to use once again.

Barley Barn Aug13

Two years later, after bat surveys, historic building reports, planning applications, unsuccessful grant applications, business plans and a forest of paperwork, the builders started work. The small adjoining shed was knocked down, the roof and weatherboarding were stripped from the Barley Barn and the concrete floor was dug out to leave a glorious skeleton of beams. Gradually, everything has been replaced, though not necessarily as we would have chosen. As the barn is Listed, rules regulate the materials we can use, so we don’t have the internal finish we’d have liked (and what we have has cost us more) and the insulation is less efficient than we planned. Hey ho.

But, despite that, the building is gradually coming together. The roof is on, the walls are boarded and the doors are hung. There’s still plenty more work to do on the barn but, when it’s finished, The Barley Barn will house an Art Gallery and Exhibition Space and be used for craft workshop days. Our daughter Ruth, who’ll be running Slamseys Art is planning classes in crafts such as floristry, screen and lino printing, photography, upholstery and jewellery making. There’ll be Hand Made Wedding workshops for brides-to-be and Hen Weekends with Life Drawing and Nipple Tassel Making, which sounds um … interesting.

So, do any of you bright sparks out there have ideas for original and exciting classes? Have you been on an inspiring course or is there a craft that you’d like to try? Maybe you’re a tutor with skills to share.  Anything considered. All tips, advice and warnings will be gratefully received.

21 thoughts on “Slamseys Art in The Barley Barn

  1. Hard for me to even comprehend the ‘history’ in that building Anne and to have it on your property is very special. I’m not quite sure what those persons who cut timber back in the 14th century would make of the ‘nipple-tassle’ classes, but probably would get a chuckle from it as I did.
    Being more of a food-lover than a craft-lover, I think some of your beautiful cooking, preserve-making, ham-smoking, sausage-making would all be wonderful additions to the space, though I guess food prep involves kitchen space which may not be in the barn plan.
    If I don’t get another chance to say so, wishing you and your family every joy of the season, and I look forward to following the adventures of Slamsey’s farm in the new year.

  2. That has been quite some project. I wish I was nearer, I’d be signing up for upholstery right now. Will you be reporting back on the Nipple Tassel making? It will make a great post..

  3. What a fabulous building & those are really super plans. Certainly the nipple-tassle class is a new one on me but then maybe I should try that. I don’t know if you need to apply for a liquor license as you would here in the states & is quite a process itself, but my daughter and her friends have really enjoyed these art classes for true amateurs but with wine & cheese. Maybe that’s what you mean by the hen weekends idea. Also out our way, a lot of shops have sprung up for after school programs with pottery decorating – you know, they already have the plaster items & the kids just decorate away. I wish I lived near you because I would love to do some of those craft classes & having just reupholstered a sofa last year could probably fine tune my skills.

    1. We’ll have a licence, because Slamseys Gin will be for sale from the barn sometimes, so what a great idea to combine art classes with food and drink. That has lots of possibilities. Thanks for the suggestion. Pottery decorating sounds good too.

  4. This is fantastic and I love everything about. Such exciting things on the horizon. It would be so fun to take a class in your beautiful “new” barn.

  5. Hello Anne, this is a fascinating old building, what an exiting project! I agree with Fiona’s ideas being more of a food person than a craft person, but I realise building food preparation areas for the public opens up a whole new set of difficulties and expenses! I read a beautiful post recently on a favourite blog of mine about a dream catcher workshop which looked like great fun.

    If I don’t see you in blog land again before Christmas I hope you have a restful, happy day with plenty of good food. Oh and I love the falling snow on your blog too! Such a contrast, it is 43 degrees Celsius here at the moment, we live in a world of extremes don’t we? x

  6. Lovely! I just love timber framed barns. It looks quite large from the photos. How does it compare with Cressing Temple’s Barley Barn? They’ve got a Tudor Herb Garden which sounds great but, of course, it’s public owned.

    We’re hoping to make a trip to Essex next year so maybe we’ll see your barn on the way round.

    Happy Christmas to you and all your family.

  7. Hi Anne,

    I have shared this link with a historic preservation blogger friend here in the Southern U.S. (Megan at Restoring the Roost) What a fascinating undertaking you’ve had there. Thanks for sharing.

    Emily Grace

  8. It is very beautiful, but I’m a little cross that YOU had to spend money, but THEY told you how to spend it. What would they have done if you simply couldn’t afford to restore it? Especially as they wouldn’t give you any grant money! Oops, sorry, I’ll stop ranting now. 🙂

    What about cooking classes? Or would that entail the further expense of installing a kitchen?

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