MSO9436 - Tithe Barn, 3 Priory Green, Dunster (Building)


The tithe barn of Dunster Priory. The present building probably has some 16th century fabric, but is thought to mainly date from a 19th century rebuilding including the roof structure.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 9906 4372) Tithe Barn (NR) [1] A little north west of Dunster Priory is the prior's barn, a large 16th Century building with massive door jambs. It has been re-roofed recently. [2] The Tithe Barn is in good repair. (See GP AO/65/124/7). [3] No 3 (Tithe Barn) Priory Green. Grade II. 16th Century in origin, much altered and with poor survival of original features. (For full description see list). [4] 16th Century in origin, much altered and with poor survival of original features. Rubble, high-pitched slate porch to each long elevation. Cruciform plan. East front with central double doors in heavy oak chamfered frame. Later single wooden casement windows to each side of doorway. Three buttresses to west side. Slit windows to gable ends. Open timber roof renewed. Later single storey range of outbuildings attached to southeast corner are not included on this list. [5] English Heritage Listed Building number (old): 264707. First Listed on 22 May 1969. [6] The tithe barn is within Dunster Conservation Area. The 2002 Character Appraisal states that "the Tithe Barn also has early origins, and the present building probably has some 16th Century fabric, but is thought to mainly date from a 19th century rebuilding including the roof structure. On each side, there are central double timber doors in a heavy oak chamfered frame, and slit windows to the gable ends. The west elevation has three buttresses." [7] Pevsner also dates the tithe barn to the 16th Century. [8] The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [9] Preliminary recording of the Dunster Tithe Barn was undertaken in July 2005, including photographic recording of the interior and exterior elevations and annotation of the architects drawings. A scheme for the change of use of the barn to a community centre was in progress. Graffiti dating to 1827 was recorded at the upper, southern end of one elevation, incised into the render between the principal rafters. Tentative phasing of the building was also proposed to work as a framework for further study and confirmation. At this stage, there was no evidence to suggest that earlier phases of the building were not medieval. A schedule of further work was proposed by the report. [10] A schedule of structure protection was prepared in 2006 to inform work on the tithe barn, including a list of individual elements of work with archaeological significance. [11] In January 2007 an archaeological watching brief was conducted during groundworks for disabled access and drainage at the tithe barn. Two substantial foundations on north to south and east to west alignments constructed of clay bonded sandstone were located immediately to the west of, and ran beneath, the existing barn. These appeared to represent the western exterior wall and an internal division of a substantial medieval building of some pretension, as suggested by a decorated floor tile and glazed ridge tile fragments from overlying demolition. To the west, a weathered surface constructed of lias slabs was revealed, possibly representing an exterior yard surface contemporary with the medieval walls. It is probable that these are the remains of part of a building associated with the medieval priory, the church of which remains to the south of the site. Further sandstone wall remains and yard surfaces of pitched sandstone cobbles, overlying the medieval walls, probably related to post-medieval farm ancillary buildings known to have existed on the site. The tithe barn was clearly built following the demolition of the medieval building and the earliest parts of this are thought to be of 16th Century date. [12,13] A draft report dating to 2007 summarises the works that had taken place around the Tithe Barn between 2005 and 2007. This includes Richard McDonnell's original survey of the barn [11], a second phase of work he undertook to monitor and record the site as work on the main building contract progressed throughout 2006 (examining and recording the fabric of the barn and associated internal floor layers) and James Bridges watching brief in 2007 [12,13]. The Tithe Barn was thought to originate in the 16th Century. An early map of the area appears to show a large building on the site but the first documented record of a barn on the site dates to 1498. The current structure is believed to postdate the Dissolution of 1539. A detailed map of the site of c.1775 shows the Tithe Barn with three straw houses and a cart house (at the northern end). The insertion of the road through Priory Green in the 19th Century may have resulted in rebuilding work of the northern gable of the barn along with substantial rebuilding in this area around the barn. The original barn was cruciform in shape, typical of Tithe barns in Somerset, with a northern and southern porch with opposing doorways. The barn has been raised in height and reroofed. The timber doors on the porches are thought to be important early 19th Century doors, worthy of care and retention. At a later date, four rooms were constructed as lean tos utilising the west and eastern walls of the barn. Little evidence was noted to help with the phasing of the building. The proposed changes of floor level in the barn resulted in the removal of the 19th Century suspended timber threshing floor (largely constructed of elm boards) and the levelling up of various floor levels. The roof timbers appear to be mainly 19th Century in date althought some traces of earlier wall plates were noted. The internal work concentrated on the analysis of the walls. An example of 19th Century graffiti was noted on the west wall, reading "A. Lone 1827". [14] The building was subject to dendrochronological dating in 2015 by Tree-Ring Services, which provided a felling date of Winter 1614/15 for a timber originating from a door post of the Tithe Barn. This is a much altered barn of cruciform plan, with only fragmentary survival of original features; the 1614/15 date is thought to relate to the original construction. Both main doorways have heavy oak chamfered frames which appear to be original. The end gables are of stone and contain slit windows. The undated later roof consists of seven collar and principal rafter trusses (without tiebeams) with three tiers of inline trenched purlins. The collars are jointed to the principal rafters with bare-faced dovetail joints. Dating commissioned by Tim Taylor, as part of Dunster Dig Village. [15,16] The building is depicted on 2018 MasterMap at SS 9905 4372 and labelled "3" and "The Tithe Barn". [18] The site was photographed in 1999 by RCHME. [19] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [20] The building is mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [21]

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1929. County Series, 3rd Edition 25 inch map. 1:25,000.
  • <2> Monograph: Hancock, F. 1905. Dunster Church and Priory. 44.
  • <3> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 26 May 1965.
  • <4> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) West Somer Dist (Dunster Ph) Somerset 4th Aug 1983 29-30.
  • <5> Index: 4/8/1983. Twenty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. District of West Somerset (Somerset).
  • <6> Unassigned: Webster CJ, Historic Environment Record. 2005. Staff Comments, Somerset County Council.
  • <7> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <8> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p156.
  • <9> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <10> Report: McDonnell, R.. 2005. Dunster Tithe Barn: Preliminary archaeological and architectural recording; 1st Report.
  • <11> Report: Unknown. 2006. Archaeological impact study and structural protection assessment: The Tithe Barn, Priory Green, Dunster.
  • <12> Report: Brigers, J.L.. 2007. Report on an archaeological watching brief to the west of the Tithe Barn, Priory Green, Dunster, Somerset. James Brigers.
  • <13> Serial: Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 1851-. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. Volume 151 (2008), 'Dunster, Priory Green, The Tithe Barn, SS 9905 4371', p233 (J Brigers).
  • <14> Report: Croft, B.. 2007. Dunster Tithe Barn: Archaeological recording and excavations 2005-2007; Interim report November 2007.
  • <15> Article in serial: Alcock, A. and Tyers, C.. 2016. Tree-ring date lists 2016. Vernacular Architecture. 47:1. 69-106.
  • <16> Report: Moir, A.. 2015. Dendrochronological analysis of oak timbers from the Old Priory and Tithe Barn, Dunster, Somerset, England. 1, 6-7, 13, 14-17, 22-23.
  • <17> Map: Unknown. c.1770. Plan of the Priory, Dunster. Pen and Ink.
  • <18>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #39097 ]
  • <19> Photograph: hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1999. Job: Tithe Barn. Colour. Negative.
  • <20> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36951, Updated 18 May 2022.
  • <21> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 15, 21, 51, 60, 76, 93, Figure 50.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/75
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12020
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12112
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE85
  • National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 99/01192
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36951
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34819
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34975



Grid reference Centred SS 990 437 (20m by 24m)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (7)

Record last edited

Sep 5 2022 2:23PM


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