Tithe barn

Former tithe barn in Jesberg (Germany)
Tithe Barn in Jesteburg (Germany)

A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing rents and tithes — one tenth of a farm's produce which was given to the Church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory and independent farmers took their tithes there. The village priests would not have to pay tithes—the purpose of the tithe being their support—and some had their own farms anyway, which are now village greens in some villages.

Many were monastic barns, originally used by the monastery itself or by a monastic grange. The word 'grange' is (indirectly) derived from Latin granarium ('granary'). Identical barns were found on royal domains and country estates.

The medieval aisled barn was developed in the 12th and 13th centuries, following the examples of royal halls, hospitals and market halls. Its predecessors included Roman horrea and prehistoric longhouses.

According to English Heritage, "exactly how barns in general were used in the Middle Ages is less well understood than might be expected, and the subject abounds with myths (for example, not one of England's surviving architecturally impressive barns was a tithe barn, although such barns existed)".[1]


There are nevertheless surviving examples of medieval barns in England, some of them bearing the title "tithe barn" even if the barn may not have really been a tithe barn according to the English Heritage criteria.[2] The total number of surviving medieval barns (until 1550) in Britain may be estimated about 200.[3]

One surviving example of a medieval tithe barn in Germany:

Tithe barn in France:

See also



  1. "Research on Harmondsworth Barn". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. Thus the Great Coxwell "Tithe Barn" was not really a tithe barn according to English Heritage.
  3. Lake 1989.
  4. Piper, Marolyn. "The Lost Village of Hillam Burchard". Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  5. http://www.cleevetithebarn.org.uk
  6. "Dunster Tithe Barn". Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  7. "Tithe barn of Tremblay-en-France".
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