This entry was authored in 2005, and while it will no longer be updated, is left here for general interest.

On: Thursday 20th October 2005, 10:30-15:00

At: Vale Farm, Sutton Waldron near Shaftesbury, Dorset

A 150 year old building will be picked by a crane and carried to a new location this Thursday.

The building is a type of granary which was once common across Wessex, but which is now rare. The granary is to be moved to a new site and converted into a holiday cottage.

This challenging piece of engineering needs a mobile crane to move the delicate 2.5 tonne granary from its current location to its new home.

Instead of having normal foundations the granary, which was built in 1856, sits on top of large carved stones that resemble mushrooms, known as staddles. These support the building above ground level and were shaped to prevent rats getting into the building where they could eat the stored grain. They were once a common sight around farms, but this is no longer so with only the staddles remaining as garden ornaments.

Owners, John and Sarah Drake said ‘we are commercial dairy farm and also have holiday cottages, but these are so popular that we need more space. This is an excellent way to preserve our heritage by finding new uses for a building that is otherwise redundant and starting to fall down. All it takes to move it is a big crane!’

Bob Hill, a Senior Project Manager with the Conservation Management Team at Wessex Archaeology who has managed the whole process added ‘moving the building in one piece may sound odd, but it really makes life a lot easier and helps to ensure it is brought back into use as soon as possible.’


Filming Opportunities

The granary will be;

� airborne for approximately 30 minutes in the late morning

in transit for approximately 60 minutes around midday

airborne for approximately 30 minutes in the early afternoon as it is lowered into its new position.

High resolution images (300 dpi)

Images of the granary in its current location, including one showing the timber beam with the date 1856 and the initials of the builder carved into it, are posted here, for free download.

Briefing Notes

Farmers Sarah and John Drake run Vale Farm at Sutton Waldron, a small village on the edge of the Blackmore Vale south of Shaftesbury in Dorset. Their main farm activity is a 150 head dairy herd that they run over 250 acres of the rolling countryside.

Along with many other farmers, Mr & Mrs Drake have added new enterprises to their business to provide extra income. Over recent years they have converted several late 19th century redundant cattle buildings into three holiday cottages. These cottages attract visitors to the area from all over the UK and Europe and this in turn helps bring additional income into the local community. Details can be found on

Because of the popularity of their cottages, they need to provide additional accommodation to meet demand and to achieve this they have recently obtained planning permission to convert two further buildings to holiday cottages. Both are former granaries where one is late 19th century and brick built whilst the other is timber framed, sits on staddles and was built in 1856. It is this building that is going to be moved to a new position on Thursday 20 October.

This staddle granary is a traditional timber framed building, but instead of having normal foundations it is sat on top of large carved stones that resemble mushrooms and are known as staddles. These supported the building above the ground level and were shaped to prevent rats getting into the building where they could eat the stored grain. They were once a common sight around the farms of Wessex, but this is no longer so with only the staddles remaining as garden ornaments.

In its original position the staddle granary is not re-usable because of the need to separate adequately the farm’s guests from everyday farming activities. It will also allow a more efficient use of space within the main farmyard. In the new location the staddle granary will compliment an historic timber framed barn, which it is hoped will be repaired and possibly re-used in the near future.

Once in its new position the building will be converted into a small two-bedroom holiday cottage with all modern facilities such as central heating, shower room and fully fitted kitchen. The work will be carried out carefully to make it compliant with modern regulations such as safety, energy conservation and also to extend its life. At the same time many of the original finishes and features of the granary will be carefully restored and retained to preserve its overall character.

In this scheme Sarah and John Drake have received assistance from Conservation Management, a specialist division of Salisbury based Wessex Archaeology that is probably Europe’s largest independent commercial archaeological contracting and consultancy organisation. Conservation Management provides a wide range of professional practical and technical assistance to those managing and involved with historic man made structures and landscapes. The project manager for this scheme is Bob Hill who is both a chartered building surveyor and a building archaeologist.