Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum Reopens This Weekend

A reminder that Kenilworth’s Abbey Museum and Heritage Centre, at The Barn, Abbey Fields, will re-open for the 2017 season on Easter Sunday 16th and Easter Monday 17th April from 2.30 to 4.30 pm and will remain open every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday afternoon thereafter until the 17th September.

Admission is free – any donations are very welcome.

The projector screen in the Barn Museum & Heritage Centre
The projector screen in the Barn Museum & Heritage Centre

Come along and learn about Kenilworth’s past from the Bronze Age right up to the 20th century. There is also a detailed interpretation of Kenilworth Priory (later Abbey) with some beautifully carved and decorated stones and tiles on display which have been found during excavations of the site.

The interior of the Barn Museum & Heritage Centre
The interior of the Barn Museum & Heritage Centre
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Dictum of Kenilworth copy on display at the Barn Museum

Sunday 4th, Saturday the 10th and Sunday 11th of September will be the final three opening days of the season for the Barn Museum and Heritage Centre in Abbey Fields. On these three days a copy of the Dictum of Kenilworth will be on display so that you can get up close to the text that helped shape our democracy.

Dictum of Kenilworth
The Dictum of Kenilworth, dated 30th October 1266

The Dictum of Kenilworth was, in essence, a peace treaty with the rebels following the death of Simon de Montfort. The document marks the end of the reform movement and the restoration of royal power, although many of the reforms passed by Simon de Montfort were accepted by the king.

In November 1267, clauses from the Dictum of Kenilworth were incorporated into the Statute of Marlborough, which is still today the the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom that has not yet been repealed.

The original Dictum manuscript is now held by the National Archives in a collection known as the Book of Statutes and Formulary book of writs. The National Archives rather colourfully records its creator as being the ‘Exchequer, and its related bodies, with those of the Office of First Fruits and Tenths, and the Court of Augmentations’.

Following its appearance in the Abbey Barn on the dates shown above, this display copy will be touring the schools of the area to educate the next generation on its realm shaping significance.

More information can be found on this remarkable document here.

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Free Guided Walk of the Abbey – 10th September

Heritage Open Days 2016

Kenilworth Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum & Heritage Centre open both Saturday and Sunday 10th & 11th September 2.30 to 4.30 pm. On Saturday 10th there will also be a free guided walk of the Abbey ruins at 3pm.

The Abbey Barn
The Abbey Barn

If you have ever wondered who built Kenilworth Abbey, why it is sometimes called a Priory, what it looked like, who lived there and why it is now a ruin then do come along and joint our free guided walk.

Buck Engraving of St Mary's Abbey, Kenilworth
Kenilworth Priory ruins as they appeared in 1729, in an engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck (image source: English Heritage)

Meet outside the Museum & Heritage Centre, Abbey Fields (just beyond children’s play area).

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The Abbey ‘Barn’ – Then & Now

The Abbey 'Barn' 1963 and 2016
The Abbey ‘Barn’ 1963 and 2016

This shot from 1963 shows the Abbey building known as the ‘barn’, clad in ivy and bathed in the July sun. There appears to be a rickety fence and style between the barn and the stone wall opposite. Other than that, and the loss of a stone cross grave stone head, the scene is relatively timeless and unchanged.

Whilst it is known colloquially as the ‘barn’, we are in fact unsure of what its original purpose was. There have been numerous articles in Kenilworth History over the years debating its construction, whether the upper floor was a later addition and documenting masons marks and the dating by dendrochronology of the roof. The late Harry Sunley wrote a fascinating article in Kenilworth History 2011 entitled “The Barn – A Guest House, a Fish House or what?” in which competing theories of its original purpose were examined.

One such theory was that it was used for drying, salting and storing fish as per a similar known as ‘Fish House’ at Meare in Somerset, a part of Glastonbury Abbey. Harry Sunley summarised that it was probably built by the Prior, Thomas Warmington between 1312 and 1343: “There is a strong case for concluding that the upper floor of the Barn was created in the first instance as a prior’s dining facility, and hence that the lower level was used as a buttery, larder and pantry. Both these were connected to an external kitchen annexe by means of a covered way.”

Whatever its original purpose, the ‘barn’ is now used as the Barn Museum and Heritage Centre to showcase the history of the abbey and the town as well as numerous artefacts and finds.

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Heritage Open Days 2016

Kenilworth Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum & Heritage Centre open both Saturday and Sunday 10th & 11th September 2.30 to 4.30 pm. On Saturday 10th there will also be a free guided walk of the Abbey ruins at 3pm.

The Abbey Barn
The Abbey Barn

If you have ever wondered who built Kenilworth Abbey, why it is sometimes called a Priory, what it looked like, who lived there and why it is now a ruin then do come along and joint our free guided walk.

Buck Engraving of St Mary's Abbey, Kenilworth
Kenilworth Priory ruins as they appeared in 1729, in an engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck (image source: English Heritage)

Meet outside the Museum & Heritage Centre, Abbey Fields (just beyond children’s play area).

 

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