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EARLY TIMBERED BUILDINGS
OF THE HUDDERSFIELD DISTRICT
BY JAMES WALTON B.Sc., F.S.A.

NAVE AND AISLES BUILDINGS

The barns associated with the early "halls" in the Huddersfield district are characterized by their division into nave and aisles. It is a plan familiar to us through the church, a similarity which Thomas Hardy notes in "FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD" when he describes some sheep shearing in a barn "which on the ground resembled a church with transepts. It not only emulated the form of the neighbouring church of the parish, but vied with it in antiquity……One could say about the barn what could hardly be said about the church or the castle, akin to it in age or style, that the purpose which had dictated its original creation was the same with that to which it still applied".

DIVES HOUSE BARN, DALTON
Dives House Barn, Dalton, is now a folk museum attached to the Tolson Memorial Museum, is a good example of a nave-and-aisles barn. It has six inner massive king-post trusses, similar to those already described, which divide the barn into seven bays. The trusses, as is common in such barns, have massive curved braces stretching from the principals to the tie-beams. In addition to the king-post two struts, at right-angles to the principal rafters, give further stability to the truss. In some cases the king-posts have been removed leaving the struts to serve as primitive queen-post trusses.

As in the cruck trussed barn at Upper Oldfield, outshuts have been provided on each side. That on the south side, which is only narrow, is included within the barn itself; the one on the north side, broken in the center by the main entrance, was used for stables and mistal. The central bay is occupied by paved threshing-stead.

Dives House Barn, Dalton

Although there are finer barns in our district than the one at Dives House, particularly Woodsome Hall and Gunthwaite Hall, none have such interesting "mistals," or "boosies". Within a West Yorkshire mistal one meets dialect survivals which have no counterpart in variety, interest or richness. The mistal is divided into "booise" accommodates two cows and in the older barns there were usually four "booises" to a bay, though at Dives House this has been reduced to three in some cases. Attached to each side of the "skell-booise" is an upright wooden "stang" with a sliding iron ring, or "framble", to which the "sealing-rope" or "sealing-chain" is secured. In front of the cattle is a "fother-heck" for holding the fodder which was thrown into the hecks from a feeding-walk or "fother-gang".

The cattle stand on a raised floor, the "settle-gang", and the bedding is held up by means of a wooden beam, the "settle-tree", which wax formerly fixed on chains and adjustable. Behind the cattle is a sunken "groop" and between the outside wall and the "groop" runs a narrow "causey" along which the farmer can pass. In the wall are small recesses, where the farmer keeps his medicines and medicine horn, and a large recess for the milking pail.

GUNTHWAITE HALL BARN
The barn at Gunthwaite Hall is the finest timbered barn in our district, having retained almost all its original features. It is a rectangular structure with ten king-post trusses dividing it into eleven bays, the trusses being similar to those of Dives House Barn, having a central king-post, a pair of struts and curved braces stretching from the principals to the tie-beam. The outshuts, providing the aisles, are of similar width at each side and the outshut roofs are carried on horizontal beams, mortised wall-plates at the other. From these beams sloping struts carry the lower purlins.

Gunthwaite Hall Barn 1

The present wall is of stone up to brestsumer height, the brestsumer itself resting on the stone wall and serving as a sill. The studding on the north side is of the normal post-and-pan type, whilst that on the south side is herring-bone pattern.

Of particular interest are the doors at Gunthwaite Hall barn. There are three sets of large bar doors; adjoining two of which are two smaller entrance doors. As at Dives House Barn and Greenhill Bank Barn the heavy doors are harr-hung; that is to say, the hanging-stile, or "harr-stile", has projections at the upper and lower ends. The lower projection which is iron shod, pivots in a hole in the stone threshold; the longer upper projection passes through a hole in a stout oak bracket. Harr-hung doors according to Sir Leonard Woolley, have been found in the Near East dating as far back as 4000 B.C. and they have a wide distribution. In Britain they are much more common in the Highland zone than elsewhere and in our district field gates are often hung in this manner.

Gunthwaite Hall Barn 2

The smaller doorways have flat ogee lintels mortised into stout oak door-posts, whilst one is also notched. An almost identical doorway at Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, is ascribed by Aymer Vallance to not later than the very beginning of the sixteenth century, and those at Gunthwaite Hall barn probably belong to the same period.

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