Chitterne Barn was an early 18th century, thatched, six bay, timber framed structure. It was built of solid oak, indeed, the centre legs were all cut from the same tree trunk, and all of the beams were numbered with Roman numerals and dowelled together, so "an agricultural masterpiece", (Warminster Journal, 1st July 1983), is an apt description.
It had passed into the hands of the MoD some years before and, after covering the thatched roof with corrugated sheets, it had been used as a briefing shelter. Following the decision to build a training village on nearby Copehill Down the Barn was moved to save it from further damage.
The photographs below show the barn in March 1983, just before it was dismantled.
It was acquired by Hartcliffe Community Council, Bristol, for their Park Farm project, a community farm open to the public and staffed by a mixture of New Deal youngsters, regular staff and volunteers.
A Youth Training Scheme team from Bristol, led by Supervisors Colin Brain and Dave Richards, camped on the Plain and dismantled the barn, stone by stone and beam by beam in the Summer of 1983. It was a challenge to reassemble the barn, but the team succeeded, to their credit. Thatch was too expensive, so it was tiled and was soon put to use for storing hay, sheltering animals and for lambing.
However, ten years later, on the 31st August 1993, fate intervened and dealt a cruel blow. Chitterne Barn, moved to spare it from army firing, became the target of a young arsonist and was burnt to the ground. The offender, from an institution for disturbed children, who was known to be suffering from pyromania, was caught and transferred.