Appeals: Chiltern Open Air Museum

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The Independent Online
John Hyde-Trutch, a restorer of timber-frame buildings, working with old timbers from Skippings Barn, which is being rebuilt for display at Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire. Behind him is Arbor Field Barn, which dates from 1500 and is for now the museum's earliest building; it is thought that the barn was used to store wheat as its latticed wood sides allow the air to flow.

The museum was founded in 1976 with the intention of rescuing from demolition buildings of historical or vernacular interest in the Chilterns. There are now 25 buildings which have been re-erected on the museum's 45-acre site. Work is not yet finished on Skippings Barn but the museum is launching an appeal to raise a further pounds 250,000 for a new project: re-erecting and restoring St Julian's Barn, a medieval monastic barn which belonged to the Abbey of St Albans and which is at present in a pile of wood sections.

Measuring 81ft x 40ft and comprising five bays with a tall central porch, the barn is thought to have been built between 1390 and 1400. After a thorough survey, repairs will be carried out to missing or unusable timbers - replacement timber will be of new green oak. New bricks will be manufactured to match the thin re-used Roman ones and 40 clay-peg roof tiles will be made. The whole barn will take about three years to complete.

Other buildings at the museum include a complete Victorian farmyard with a threshing barn, granary, stables, cattle shelters and cartsheds; rare breeds of farmyard animals are kept at the farm. There is also a toll-house, a blacksmith's forge, a pair of 18th-century cottages, a room from a Victorian vicarage, an Edwardian cast-iron public lavatory and a 1940s pre-fabricated house. The museum receives about 50,000 visitors, 20,000 of whom are children, each year; and relies heavily on visitor income because it receives no public funding.

For further information, contact: Chiltern Open Air Museum, Newland Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire HP8 4AD, telephone 0494 871117.

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