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
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.
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.
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
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.
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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