£8m project restores medieval buildings

One of the largest surviving medieval timber framed barns in the South East of England has been restored as part of an 
£8 million project at the renowned Great Dixter estate.

The 500-year-old Grade II* listed great barn and 19th century oast houses at Great Dixter, whose gardens were made famous by plantsman and garden writer Christopher Lloyd, will open to the public this week following major restoration work.

A four-year conservation project, funded with the help of a £3.89m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), has also made repairs to the original medieval house and installed a ground source heat pump and biomass boiler for heating.

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And the 20th century Dixter Farm buildings have been converted into living quarters for horticultural students and an education centre for school groups and the community.

Work on the great barn by local craftsmen has included repairs to rotting timbers and decaying joists and preserved key features such as the remains of a cattle feeding trough and the threshing floor.

Visitors to the barn and oast houses will be able to see 19th century graffiti by hop pickers, a grain store, and the kilns, drying floor and the press for the hop harvest.

The barn, which dominates the skyline over the front of the garden and would have been a significant medieval status symbol when it was first built, will still be in use as a wood