The barn at New Shipton Farm is a very old timber-framed structure. The main supports are crucks, giant A-frames made from the two halves of a single oak tree split down the middle. So far it is the only building in Sutton where the method of dating timbers by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) has been used. Where it can be applied, this method gives a very accurate date, and so we know that the structure dates from 1425. In 1425 Sutton Coldfield was a feudal manor, part of the vast estate of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Not far away is an even older building, New Hall - but why should two of our oldest buildings still be called “New”?

I suspect it is because they replaced something that was old. The old Manor House of Sutton stood on Manor Hill, and associated with it was a dairy farm and a deer park. At some time in the 13th century the then Earl of Warwick decided to reorganise his Manor at Sutton, building a new manor house with a moat at New Hall, and establishing a new “shippon” or dairy farm at New Shipton, The new deer park he created at Eachelhurst (between Penns Lane and Pype Hayes Park) was known as New Park, but this name is no longer remembered. When the Earl had moved in to his state-of-the-art new premises, he was able to lease out his old house and park to one of the many rising gentry, to whom it would give the status needed.

After a hundred and fifty years the new dairy farm was probably the worse for wear, and the barn we see today was built. For many centuries it served as just another farmyard building, until farming at New Shipton ceased in the 1980s. It has now been restored, and converted into the showroom of an interior design firm, where the splendid old timber crucks have pride of place.

New Shipton Barn in Walmley, which dates back to 1425, is constructed of giant A-frames made from the two halves of a single oak tree split down the middle.