As part of our works on the Ashridge Estate there was an old long-barn. Traditionally build of cob, a rustic mixture of soil, straw and lime on a stone base, this magnificent structure was over 45m long with gently curving walls to follow the line of an ancient farm track. However, it was unsuitable for modern farming uses and had fallen into serious disrepair. Too beautiful to demolish, but too costly to fix without function, our clients proposed creating a commercial events and wedding venue.
We assisted with a feasibility study covering access routes, fire regulations, parking provision, inserting toilet facilities and design layouts. To make it viable the build cost needed to be low, at around £160/sq.m. This suited a light-touch restoration of the rustic structure to expose its vernacular heritage, and making best use of its setting in beautiful Devon countryside as the backdrop for peoples’ ‘big day’.
Our design removed unnecessary additions to reveal the form of the original barn, utilised existing openings and created new ones to gain views and improved access. Internally spaces were opened up to create a grand venue, with sustainable loos and services at the other end. The walls were restored using natural materials and traditional techniques by local craftsmen. Windows, doors and shutters were fabricated using timber grown and seasoned on the estate and left to weather naturally.
As well as being a successful wedding venue, the estate offer use of the barn for community events and as a base for running ecological training workshops.