NEW PLANS - The trustees would like to set up a historic display in the Meeting Room in the Tithe Barn showing the history of the Barn for the interest of hirers and which might be of use to local schools for projects on Tudor buildings and village life. We would like to include;
how the barn was built,
what materials were used, and where they came from
what a tithe is,
why the barn was built and for whom,
why the barn was built where it is
and how the barn fitted into village life until it became a village hall.
If you have any interest in the history of tithe barns or of Cleeve and would be willing to help in whatever capacity we would very much like to hear from you. Please see the contact page or email us from here. Email the Barn Trustees
THE WEATHERVANE - To see the history of the restoration of the weathervane by Les Chattell click here.
The History of the Tithe Barn
The Bishopís Cleeve Tithe Barn is at the gateway to
the original village, near Cheltenhamís famous racecourse under the edge
of Cleeve Hill and the Cotswold escarpment. It was built in the 15th
century as a Tithe Barn for the Bishop of Worcester opposite Cleeve Hall,
then a summer residence of the Bishop.
It was the first of its kind in England, and is constructed
of Cotswold Stone with a Cotswold stone roof supported on an oak hammer
beam roof structure.
It was the first of its kind in England, and is constructed of Cotswold Stone with a Cotswold stone roof supported on an oak hammer beam roof structure.
At the end of the 19th Century the south end of the barn was destroyed by fire and cleared away but most of the original structure including the north end and central entrance remains. The Tithe Barn is now a Grade II Listed Building and an important part of the built heritage of Bishop's Cleeve.
In 1953 the Tithe Barn was transferred to the villagers and the Parish Council became the Custodial Trustees. A plain English interpretation of the of the trust deed can be seen here.
Following fundraising activities and with the aid of sponsorship from local business a programme of restoration of the exterior and improvements to the interior was carried out . The refurbished building was ceremonially opened in 1956 by the then Speaker of the House of Commons William S Morrison 1st Viscount Dunrossil, then conservative MP for Cirencester and Tewkesbury.
The conversion to a Village Hall provided a Main Hall on the first floor with a sprung Canadian Maple wood floor for dancing, which it was claimed could accommodate 150 couples or 200 seated - current fire regulations have now reduced this to 150) and on the ground floor rooms for a library, a doctors surgery and, where the bar is now, a NatWest Bank, though not called that then.
A Village Hall Charitable
was set up (Charity Commission number 301465) for which the current
Volunteer Management Committee are the Trustees.
When the charity was established,
was set up (Charity Commission number 301465) for which the current Volunteer Management Committee are the Trustees. When the charity was established,the building's Custodial Trustees devolved authority for the use, care and maintenance of the building to the volunteer management committee, the trustees of the Village Hall charity.
The Tithe Barn has been in popular use as a Village Hall since then and has been kept in good condition over the last 50 years. The committee are keenly aware of burgeoning legislation with respect to public buildings, the need for inclusive access and the need to provide the standard of facilities expected by the community in the 21st century. When the Barn was converted the population of Bishop's Cleeve had risen form 704 in 1876 (when one William Taylor was the Constable) to 4000 in 1950. We are now serving a community of 10,000, larger than that of Tewkesbury, the borough town.
Since then it has been the venue for numerous village clubs and societies and many many weddings and anniversaries. It has seen various arts, music, drama (the home of Cleeve Players for many years), and jazz events. The picture shows the current chair of trustees with his wife and friends, at a jazz event in the 1960s!
The trustees are in the midst of an improvement project to maintain the historic outline of the building whilst providing much needed internal facilities, including a lift, within a realistic budget. The committee would be pleased to hear from anyone willing to assist with this process or any aspect of managing the barn in its day to day activities. See the page on Inclusive Access for more details of the building project.
For more photos of Bishop's Cleeve and the Tithe Barn see Mike Ralls' superb website 'Images of Bishop's Cleeve'
A brief history of Bishop's Cleeve can be found on a Brief History of Bishop's Cleeve
Thanks to Mrs Christine Wall (one time management committee member) for some of the later history off the Village Hall
last updated 27 August 2012