At Huntsmill Farm we are known for our trademark stone barn. But did you know that before we converted the barn, we originally started running weddings in 2011 using a traditional pole and rope marquee? After a few busy summers of weddings with the marquee, Henry came up with the idea to convert the last unused and unloved barn in our courtyard next to the cottages and convert it into a wedding barn. The barn had been a little neglected for some time, and was used mainly as a storage barn!
Now after five years of being up and running as a barn wedding venue, our stone barn is how you all know us today! May 2023 marks five whole years of weddings inside our barn, and so to celebrate, we thought we would share five facts about our 18th-century stone barn with you.
Image thanks to Sophie Ann Photography
1. The barn used to be two separate barns
You will now know our barn as two rooms joined by oak bifold doors, to separate the different rooms so that one is used for your ceremony, and later your evening entertainment, and the other room is used as your wedding breakfast area. But these two rooms used to be two separate barns, with the separation being where the bi-fold doors now are, and the entrance to what is now the ceremony barn is now the fire exit.
Image thanks to The Studio Without Walls
The two barns were mainly used as storage, and before we converted them you could find a lot of junk in here! But 200 years ago, the wedding breakfast barn would have originally been used to store the harvest which would have been collected in sheaves and would have then been threshed so this would have been known as the threshing barn. The slit windows in the barn used to be offset to keep any rain coming in, but still allowing the wind to be drawn in to keep it dry. The ceremony barn would have been used to keep livestock downstairs in the winter and a hayloft upstairs.
Image thanks to Hannah Hall Photography
2. The conversion took one year to complete
After deciding to change how we ran weddings, we put in our planning permission to convert our stone barn. It felt like forever to get approval, but it took around 6 months. Once we had the planning permission, we started the building work in April 2017, and by April 2018 we had a newly converted stone barn wedding venue!
Of course, the conversion did not come without a few issues along the way. Being an 18th-century stone barn, we came across a few problems with some of the original materials, one of the main issues being that some of the roof timbers were rotten. All the large window frames you can see on the barn were made locally, and then transported here by tractor and trailer! Another time-consuming job was adding in underfloor heating throughout the barn, along with the ventilation which you can find under the floor.
Image thanks to Sam Bennett Photography
Part of our plans in the conversion was to soundproof the ceremony room as we knew we would be using this space in the evenings, so we prepped it ready for evening discos and live bands. Soundproofing took a lot of extra work, including changing the original hayloft window to acoustic glazing, making it extra thick to help keep the sound in.
Image thanks to Emilie May Photography
While much of the conversion took a long time, it was worth the wait to see our once-neglected stone barn be given a new lease of life! A fun fact for you – the builder who converted the barn got married here at Huntsmill Farm!
You can see a much quicker version of our conversion taking place below!
3. There’s a lot of history
Our stone barn is over 200 years old, dating back to the 18th century, so as I’m sure you can imagine there is a lot of history within this barn. The large double doors you can see on either side of the barn would have originally been used for carts to go through and unload into the threshing barn, having easy access to travel through to unload.
One way you can tell the age of a barn is by looking at the beams, and from the markings on ours, this is how we know our stone barn dates to the 18th century. Carpenters used to create marks on beams to distinguish the different parts of a timber frame and how they should be pieced together – think 18th-century flat-pack instructions!
Image thanks to Emmie Scott
It’s not just the barn that has history, our accommodation does too. The cottage closest to the barn, The Granary, used to be an actual granary! It was once used as a storehouse designed for the long-term storage of grain, particularly seed grain. Very different from how it looks today!
4. Everything had to be damp proofed
Being an old stone barn, we wanted to ensure that the conversion would last us for years to come, and part of that included making sure everything was damp-proofed. To make sure the barn was safe from damp we used lime mortar pointing inside and outside of the barn – this is where the gaps between the stones are ‘finished’ to prevent dampness. Initially, it was planned that this would take around 30 days to do, but it took a lot longer than planned and took around 60 days to complete – and that was with three builders and Henry lending a helping hand when he could!
Image thanks to Mark Horton Photos
5. The first event held in the barn wasn’t actually a wedding…
…It was in fact our daughter Hazel’s second birthday party!
Shortly after the barn conversion was completed and we had a party for Hazel’s second birthday inside the newly renovated stone barn. It made for the perfect space for all the kids to run around, and a great opportunity to test out the space before our weddings took place!
Want to find out more about our 18th century stone barn?
Photography thanks to Samantha Alice Photography