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Organised by the Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society
Monday 1st August 2016 until completion

The Carew Manor Barn, Wallington, excavation 2016 - John Phillips writes:

The Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society is to investigate the site of The Barn in the grounds of Carew Manor, Wallington.

In 2015 the society carried out an excavation which sampled the foundations of a large former outbuilding to the north of a former country house now known as Carew Manor. Shown left is part of a late 18th/early 19th century broach found during the course of that excavation.

The excavation exposed the lower part of a foundation which most likely supported an exceptionally large timber framed aisled barn about 69m long by 11m wide. Very limited dating evidence suggested that the foundation dated from the early 18th century and that it may have been constructed when an older barn was moved. It however raised two major questions that this year's excavation will seek to answer read more.......

This excavation is part of the Society’s contribution to a Heritage Lottery Fund bid for Beddington Park which has been submitted by Sutton Council and has successfully passed stage 1. Sutton is currently awaiting the final outcome of a funding decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund that should be known by the end of July this year.

Design for the 2016 excavation - click HERE

Report from the 2015 excavation - click HERE

Report 1 August 2016

We set out the trench and have taken off most of the top soil before work was stopped by rain.

Report 2 August 2016

Work was delayed by the morning rain. However, in the end we have dug a fair amount. Most of the section of barn wall has been exposed. In the section we dug last year we found a short foundation which projected into the building from the outside wall. The barn was almost certainly aisled and I assumed that the aisle posts stood on the inner end of the projection. There is currently no sign of similar projections from the section of wall which we exposed today. This is a bit of a surprise. We will see what develops tomorrow.

Report 3 August 2016

We have continued excavating the foundations of the north wall and have found the inward running foundations which supported the aisle posts (see the picture).  The spacing between the posts is about 5.4m which will help us understand the plan of the building.

We also opened a second trench to look for the south wall. This has been successful and we can now say that the internal width was about 10.6m.

Tomorrow I am planning to look at the details of the western end of the building. When this is done I should be able to make a good attempt at reconstructing the original plan.

The late medieval barn at Harmondsworth near Heathrow Airport. This seems to have been about the same size as the barn we are working on. It is said to be the largest surviving barn in the country. The barn at Beddington seems to have been a little longer but not quite as wide. The roof is supported by huge vertical timber aisle posts. At Harmondsworth these rest on stone blocks but at Beddington they appear to have been supported by short timbers which projected in from the wall and were underlain by a flint and mortar foundation.

Report 4 August 2016

We have spent most of the day cleaning the wall foundations and have also excavated the deposit outside the south wall. The latter looks as if it might offer some clues to the date of the foundation. This will be continued tomorrow.

CAPTION RIGHT: The south wall looking towards the inside if the building.

CAPTION LEFT: The north wall of the barn at the end of work.


Report 5 August 2016

We have spent most of the day cleaning off the foundations and excavating the rather puzzling deposits around the south side of the barn foundations on which I will say more in a day or two.

I have also taken a series of measurements so I can try to work out the size and layout of the whole building from the section we have excavated. The barn was almost certainly of timber on a foundation of flint, chalk and mortar. The roof would have been supported by two lines of vertical posts on each side similar to the Harmondsworth barn shown above. The posts divide the length of the building into a series of sections known as bays. 19th century maps suggest that the building was about 69m (226ft) long by 11m (36ft) wide. The excavations last year and this have uncovered the north side of the western-most 3 bays. These are about the same length – the average is 5.32m. If the building had 13 bays it would have a length of around 69.75m allowing for the thickness of the end wall. This is obviously very close to the 69m suggested by the maps. We have a direct measurement of the external width – 11.56m. This means that the barn was slightly larger than Harmondsworth.

Big barns like this were used for bringing the harvest in after it had been cut by hand using scythes. The grain would still be attached to the straw so it was very bulky. Several of the bays were provided with doors – usually on both sides – so that the wagons could be run in under cover and unloaded.  The crop was then stacked and later taken back to the wagon bays to be threshed by hand. The wagon bays needed to be spread out along the length of the barn so the crop could be stacked close to the carts.

If there were 13 bays at Beddington the likely arrangement was:

2 stacking bays
1 wagon bay
3 stacking bays
1 wagon bay
3 stacking bays
1 wagon bay
2 stacking bays

This would make an efficient arrangement.

This can be used to estimate the volume of crops store and the area of land they came from. More to follow in the next couple of days.

Report 6 August 2016

We have more or less finished digging today and have not found anything new of much significance.

I have had a change to have an initial think about how much the barn would hold and what area of land would be needed to grow the crop. An old text book – Hints to young valuers by Anthony Cragg (1901) gives the weight of a cubic foot of various stacked crops and also the yield per acre from which it is possible to work out area needed to grow a given volume of crops. There are various uncertainties around crop yields; how high the barn was stacked and the ratio between straw and seed in the medieval period. It may be possible to reduce some of these but at present it looks as if the barn would hold the harvest from about 100 acres.

The next question is how this relates to the Carew’s estates. This is not easy to calculate, and may need some new research which may take some time. It may not even be answerable. I will see.

Report 7 August 2016

The day has been spent making a scale plan of the foundation and doing a few remaining recording and sampling jobs.

We have finally got some dating evidence from the fill of a pit cut into the foundation at the northwest corner. It consists of two pieces of bottle glass attached to a mass of mortar (pictured left) which had clearly come from the foundation although it was not attached to it. The glass must have been included in the building when it was made. I have not yet looked at the bottle in detail but it must be 17th or 18th century and it strongly suggests that the foundation was made then. It is possible that the barn was newly built at that date but I think it was probably an older building that had been moved. 17th and 18th century carpenters tended to use a large number of nails some of which are scattered over the site when the building is demolished. We have found very few nails suggesting that the joints were fixed with wooden pegs in the medieval manner. The barn may have been moved to clear the view from the house into the park. We will look at the glass tomorrow to see if it can be more closely dated.

Report 10 August 2016

We finished backfilling yesterday.

I have now had a chance to have a closer at the piece of glass embedded in mortar which we found on Sunday. The mortar is very similar to the foundations and almost certainly came from it. As the glass appears to have been embedded in the mortar the foundation must be older than it. The glass has come from the wall of a wine bottle of the mallet or cylindrical type which are after about 1725. This means that the foundation belongs to the very end of Nicholas Carew 1st baronet's life (d. 1727), or the trustees of the estate (1727-41) or the 2nd baronet (1741-62). It means that the barn was probably not moved to create a view to the lake in the park as this existed by 1721. I am rather surprised and still thinking about the implications of this.

Unless otherwise stated,
the text of the Reports on this page are Copyright © 2016 Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society

The mages are Copyright © 2016 John Phillips and The Friends of Honeywood Museum

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