Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon

One of the most beautiful buildings in England was not designed to flatter but to be useful. The old Tithe Barn at Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, is gigantic, at 167 feet long and 30 wide (the photograph above is but half its length). It was constructed in the early 1330s when Shaftesbury Abbey gained control of the rectory of Bradford- ie the right to appoint its clergy, and to therefore keep the town’s tithes, having first paid for a substitute or 'vicar' to officiate at the services. Tithes were one-tenth portions of produce and livestock which were payable to the church as a tax. The sheer scale of this tithe barn demonstrates both the fertility of the parish and the immense wealth of Mother Church.


Beware of wealth and excess money. Solomon observed in 1:32 of Proverbs that prosperity destroys the foolish. If too little destroys the body, too much destroys the soul. Two centuries after the barn’s construction and the Church’s wealth was effectively nationalised by a nobility and government which thought her wealth (over a third of English land) was too great. Now that barn is empty, and the parish church likely struggling to pay its Share. Poverty follows wealth as the moon follows the sun. Only Christ is the jewel worth keeping, and able to be kept, for it is He who keeps us. 

Better is a poor man going in his simpleness, than a rich man in shrewd ways. Proverbs 28:6, Wycliffe Bible