Monday, January 30, 2012

The cathedral of Middlesex

The pic is from the Daily Mail.  Here's why it is in the news (the Guardian):
An extraordinary medieval barn once dubbed "the cathedral of Middlesex" by Sir John Betjeman has been bought by English Heritage in a move to save it from decay, it is announced on Monday.
Just beyond today's sprawl of Heathrow, between the roaring M25 and M4 motorways and the straggling warehouses and industrial estates around the airport perimeter, the Great Barn at Harmondsworth has stood since 1426.
It has long been famous among building historians and admired by the poet and conservation campaigner Betjeman. Repair work is now being carried out – including to its huge roof – and it will open to the public regularly for the first time this spring.
"This is the best preserved medieval barn in England, probably in Europe, and the ninth largest ever built in England. For its size, and its state of preservation, it is unique," said Michael Dunn, an English Heritage historic buildings expert, of the 60 metres long, 12 metres wide and 11 metres high timber structure.
Justine Bayley, an archaeologist who lives in Harmondsworth village and secretary of the group that has acted as guardians for the barn, said: "If we had a pound for everyone who walks in here and says 'wow!' we could have re-roofed the building twice over. It's really the only appropriate response."
 Those of us who have owned or used barns, packed them with hay for the winter will say "60 METERS LONG!"

This great barn was owned by a church corporation, which had the stability of ownership and wealth to build such a thing.  Imagine the fertility of the area necessary to justify the investment.  Now, of course, Middlesex is pretty much indistinguishable from suburban sprawl anywhere.

Thanks to sharp-eyed Paul Halsall.

For scale, and for the fun of it, another pic from the Guardian:

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