The Great Barn in Holkham park

The Park

The Great Barn

The Great Barn was built in about 1790; the estate’s accounts identify that it was roofed with slate in 1792-94. Designed by the architect Samuel Wyatt the building is constructed from white Holkham brick and is 120 feet long, 30 feet wide and 30 feet high. It was built as a showpiece but had a practical design, much admired by farming experts. Instead of the usual plan for a barn as one side of a rectangle round a yard, the barn was the centre of the buildings, with outbuildings along its sides for threshing machine, stables, granary, feed houses and cart lodge, and cattle sheds facing it, for 60 head of cattle. The cattle sheds have since been demolished.

At the time it was built, Thomas William Coke (Coke of Norfolk) had just taken Longlands farm ‘in hand’ from its tenant and was implementing extensive building work there, in order to make it the centre of the home or park farm. This became the focus of the famous Holkham Sheep Shearings - annual three-day gatherings that attracted hundreds of farmers and dignitaries including some from abroad. Advances in animal breeding played an important part in such gatherings. The sheep were inspected at Longlands and the cattle at the Great Barn. The Shearings were the forerunners of today’s modern country agricultural shows.