Waxham Barn, located on Norfolk's east coast was
built in the 1570s by the Woodhouse family, who lived next door
in a big house.
The Woodhouse family were in fact the showbiz couple,
the Posh and Becks, of the 16th century!
The couple's conspicuous consumption and blatant
showing-off of their wealth in an agricultural building makes the
barn one of the most important historical structures in the county.
Caroline Davison from Norfolk County Council's Conservation department
"There's a big barn at Paston which a lot of people know about,
which is actually a few feet shorter but the roof structure is the
same and it seems like the same people worked on the barn.
"Maybe the Woodhouses' were making the point that they were
the big family of the area, so they built their barn a bit bigger."
The huge barn door
Waxham Barn is very old and was constructed using
bits of 14th and 15th century monasteries that the Woodhouses' had
bought after Henry VIII closed them down.
Stepping into the barn, there's plenty of
evidence that although neglected by humans, it's still in frequent
"The most important wildlife living here is
a breeding colony of bats, who are here in the summer raising young,
" said Caroline Davison.
"They live in the little cracks in the timber of the roof so
you can't actually see them during the day, so luckily, we're not
"We've also got a large number of pigeons which we can't keep
out because we have to allow the bats to get out, so the pigeons
get back in.
"We've also got a barn owl living here," she added.
Stepping to the rescue
Norfolk County Council bought the building in 1991, as the previous
owners could no longer afford to look after it.
In fact, this historic barn was almost lost to
the county when it was threatened with demolition.
Immediately the council set about repairing the
main barn, which was the most important bit on the site.
All the roof timbers,which had been blown down
in the 1987 gale have been salvaged and the barn made weather-tight
The next phase is the one that's going to happen very soon, which
is repairing the four single story wings that come off each corner
of the barn, and installing basic things like toilets and electricity
so that the barn can be used by the public and accessed properly.
Alan Creasey is the Group Skills Assessment Manager
from RG Carter Builders and is always inspired whenever he steps
into Waxham Barn.
"It's a tremendous space. An ancient space.
It's an agricultural cathedral!"
Alan will be over-viewing the next stage of development
with the help of half a million pounds lottery grant.
Qualifications in conservation
During the restoration they'll be training people and offering GNVQ
vocational qualifications in conservation restoration.
But the work will not start for another month.
Until then, the barn will be left to the bats, pigeons and owls
and locked up.
The first chance you'll get to see the barn open
will be on September 14th for the National Historic Open Day.
Back to Restoration index