The Story Of Gildings Barns
Gildings Farm was originally part of the Cudworth Manor Estate. It was sold in 1957 to the late Peter Hall, local farmer and was subsequently farmed as part of Green Lane Farm, just half a mile away. The original buildings at Gildings were the front barns, forming three sides of a typical small farm yard.
The main ‘Gildings Barn’, tucked away at the rear of the site, was built in the early 1990s by Peter who had a passion for oak-framed structures. Following careful research, he built this Sussex-style ‘aisled’ barn using traditional carpentry techniques and materials. He was assisted by family friend and skilled local carpenter, Alan Monk. All of the timber, some 60 to 70 small oak trees, were salvaged from nearby Holmwood Common after the storms of 1987 and 1990. In recognition of the quality of workmanship, the Country Land Owners Association awarded Peter the prestigious ‘Farm Buildings’ development prize in 1993.
The Barn is typical of agricultural buildings built in the local area during the 17th and 18th centuries to meet processing needs of the grain harvest. As a major source of reference, Peter made several visits to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, and a number of features of Gildings Barn are a careful replica from structures at the museum. Such is the quality of the workmanship, many visitors to Gildings Barn reasonably presume it to be centuries old.
The last structure Peter built was the beautiful Granary, standing at the rear of the main barn. Again this is typical of granaries built on farms for safe storage of grain. These small rectangular buildings normally rested on four mushroom-shaped ‘staddle stones’ to provide protection from vermin.
The breath-taking beauty of the main barn quickly captured the hearts of many local people and from its completion in 1993 it has been in high demand for Weddings and Parties and used extensively by local groups and societies for a range of events. Peter’s wish was that people would continue to enjoy Gildings for their special events, but that the agricultural integrity of the site would be retained.
Currently owned by the next generation, Peter’s daughter, Penny and husband Richard, are committed to ensuring his wishes are fulfilled. They have continued to run the barns for charitable functions, weddings and events. Now coming up to retirement themselves, they are entrusting management of Gildings to Matt Fielder to continue operating in the same way, supported by the third generation of Halls, Edward Graepel, who lives locally. Edward, like his grandfather, is talented in construction and building large, robust structures and is keen to ensure ‘Grandad’s Barn’ is preserved for generations to come.
Penny Graepel (née Hall)