The Barn from Middle Earth
Hidden away in a field in Tetbury in Gloucestershire is one of the most extraordinary modern follies in the United Kingdom. Here, in the late 1990s, stained glass artist and sheep farmer, Colin Stokes constructed a rambling stone barn and sheep fold from honey coloured lumps of Cotswold stone, lying around as clitter in surrounding fields in the late 20th century.
Every stone was cemented in by hand by Colin himself and like Topsy it just grew. There are turrets and stained glass windows and narrow stairways and attics and enclosures. The building extends up and out and around and defies description. It could be a castle for a sleeping beauty, a giant hermitage constructed by a mad hermit, or even a monstrous hobbit hole.
Colin’s barn would probably be growing still if the project had not, unsurprisingly, eventually attracted the attention of developers who moved in to buy the adjacent site. Reluctantly Colin sold up and moved to southern Scotland. Our visit in July 2007 was his first return visit since then. Guarded by curious frisky ponies and frequented by sheep, the structure remains remarkably intact but the trees are growing up and one day it will be covered up and disappear completely. Who knows then what future generations will make of it?