Farmstead record COK 123 - Farmstead: Tuns Farm

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Summary

Tuns Farm is a farmstead visible on the 1st Ed Os map. The farmstead is laid out in a regular L-plan with additional detached elements. The farmhouse is detached and set away from the yard. The farmstead sits alongside a public road in a hamlet location. There has been a significant loss of working buildings with modern sheds on site. All surviving historic buildings have eben converted for residential use.

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 9113 5497 (130m by 104m)
Map sheet TL95SW
Civil Parish COCKFIELD, BABERGH, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Tuns Farm is a farmstead visible on the 1st Ed Os map. The farmstead is laid out in a regular L-plan with additional detached elements. The farmhouse is detached and set away from the yard. The farmstead sits alongside a public road in a hamlet location. There has been a significant loss of working buildings with modern sheds on site. All surviving historic buildings have eben converted for residential use. (S2-5)

Tuns Farm is a well-preserved timber-framed and thatched house of exceptional historic interest. Dating from the mid-16th century it represents a rare ‘missing link’ between the domestic norms of the Middle Ages and those of the Tudor Renaissance, and the first example of its type to be found outside the northern half of Suffolk. Its discovery confirms that structures of this remarkable form were more widely distributed than hitherto suspected, and may well lead to the recognition of more elsewhere in the country. In most respects the original building followed the standard layout of contemporary farmhouses, with a central hall and cross-passage flanked by a pair of service (storage) rooms to the right and a parlour to the left. The hall was fully floored and provided with an enclosed fireplace in the latest fashion, but the nature of its chimney reflected the bonfire-like open hearths of the medieval period that were quickly becoming outmoded. The fireplace lay in the parlour bay at the ‘high’ end of the hall, and although its chimney passed through the ceiling in the usual manner it failed to penetrate the roof and simply emptied its smoke into the upper storey. The superstructures of many early chimneys were constructed of timber rather than expensive brick, and could not readily accommodate additional fireplaces on the first floor. Enclosed fireplaces and ceilings therefore brought European levels of comfort to the lower storey, but left the upper part of the house unheated. In the absence of a second fireplace the upper storey at Tuns Farm was heated by smoke from the ground floor, thereby preventing the sacks of grain or whatever else might have been stored there from succumbing to damp, frost and rot (the first floor was originally undivided and open to its roof, resembling a barn or granary, and, as in most houses of the time, was evidently used for agricultural or commercial storage rather than domestic life. Chimneys that failed to penetrate the roof are termed ‘short stacks’ in current parlance, and Tuns Farm is a ‘short stack house’. Unfortunately, while some twenty such houses have been identified to date, no original chimneys are known to survive. As at Tuns Farm they were removed or rebuilt as fireplaces and bedrooms appeared on the first floor during the late-16th and 17th centuries. Remarkably, the original arrangement at Tuns Farm can be shown to have survived only a matter of years if not months, as a partition was inserted to confine the smoke to the area over the parlour before the rafters above the hall were more than lightly smoke stained. Complete normality was restored within a generation or two when the short stack was removed entirely and replaced by a brick chimney against the cross-passage at the opposite end of the hall. The new chimney still contained only a single ground-floor fireplace. The existing lobby entrance layout may date from the 17th century, although in its present form relates to an additional chimney that was inserted only in the late-19th century (S1).

Recorded as part of the Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project. This is a purely desk-based study and no site visits were undertaken. These records are not intended to be a definitive assessment of these buildings. Dating reflects their presence at a point in time on historic maps and there is potential for earlier origins to buildings and farmsteads. This project highlights a potential need for a more in depth field study of farmstead to gather more specific age data.

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2007. Historical Survey: Tuns Farm, Howe Lane, Cockfield.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Campbell, G., and McSorley, G. 2019. SCCAS: Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project.
  • <S3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1880s. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 1st edition.
  • <S4> Map: Ordnance Survey. c 1904. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 2nd edition. 25".
  • <S5> Vertical Aerial Photograph: various. Google Earth.

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Record last edited

Jun 17 2020 9:53AM

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