Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vanishing Britain - Cherhill Tithe Barn

15th century Tithe barn at Cherhill, Wiltshire  destroyed in 1952.  Watercolor by Vincent Lines 1942
You can see from this rather attractive watercolour painting that this old tithe barn was situated near the church, all that remains of it now are sketches and paintings.  It looks pretty tumbledown when it was painted and probably restoring it was not a priority, not like the great Bradford on Avon tithe barn.
Romantic England, tumbling barns and askew gravestones, times lost in history.  The painting was made during or after the second World War to capture the 'essence' of England before it was lost under hails of bombs or new infrastructure such as roads and housing.  Funnily enough this part of Cherhill, just outside Calne, still remains unrelatively changed, it is part of the landscape that runs into the great prehistoric landscape of Avebury, odd bronze age barrows testify to older inhabitants.

"The scheme was known as 'Recording the changing face of Britain' and was established by Sir Kenneth Clark, then the director of the National Gallery. It ran alongside the official War Artists' Scheme, which he also initiated. Clark was inspired by several motives: at the outbreak of war in 1939, there was a concern to document the British landscape in the face of the imminent threat of bomb damage, invasion, and loss caused by the operations of war. This was allied to an anxiety about changes to the landscape already underway, such as the rapid growth of cities, road building and housing developments, the decline of rural ways of life and industries, and new agricultural practices, which together contributed to the idea of a 'vanishing Britain'.


  1. Beautiful old barn Thelma. Ah yes - changing Britain - I grew up in a village in Lincolnshire which had a population of about three hundred. I knew everyone in the village and they knew me. I went back a couple of years ago and the 'village' has now got a population of 16,000 - lots of new estates and every patch of green which was somebody's lawn in my day, now has a house built on it. I find it all so sad, but I accept that these changes are inevitable.

  2. Soul destroying as well of course, modern estates of similar houses, Peter Seeger comes to mind with the song, 'Little Boxes' ;)