The Dronfield Heritage Trust is a buildings preservation charity, formed in 2007 to take on the challenge of rescuing and re-developing historic Dronfield Hall Barn into a high specification heritage, arts and natural history centre for Dronfield and District, the barn was gifted to the Peel Centre in 2004 by Sainsbury Supermarkets on condition that it be developed for the benefit of the town’s citizens.
Challenge is a very apt word because as the years rolled by the trustees began to recognise the enormous task ahead of re-configuring a Grade II* barn for public access, satisfying English Heritage and raising the £1m construction cost. However, undaunted, they raised money from generous local donors and the Architectural Heritage Fund so that in January 2012 the complex bid processes of The Heritage Lottery Fund and other national funders could be pursued.
Buoyed up by 300 letters of support and 280 new recruits into The Friends of Dronfield Hall Barn, the small team of volunteers were rewarded in 2014 by grants of £1,034,800 from The Heritage Lottery Fund and £131,000 from Viridor Credits. However it was the donations from generous private individuals across the town which tipped the fund over the £1.3m mark and enabled a start on the construction work in January 2015. The contract was awarded to Wm Birch and Sons of York who completed the build in February 2016.
Longer term, the Trust envisages becoming the central information point for Dronfield and the surrounding district, promoting the conservation of the area, with the barn as a hub of exciting and innovative activity.
Funded for four years by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Dronfield Heritage Project is providing unique opportunities for the whole community to participate in enjoyable activities which enable learning and discovery visit the activities page for further information.
Whatever your interest be it heritage, natural history or arts, contact us to get involved. We have wide support from individuals, community groups and schools throughout the town. There is a thriving and welcoming members’ group, and busy online social media communities.
Veolia, Viridor have also provided significant financial support, with generous donations from the Duke of Devonshire and individuals within the community helping to make our ambitious project a reality. We are still fundraising to achieve our goals and welcome your support.
Together, we aim to leave a lasting legacy for Dronfield, celebrating our past and looking forward to our future. Our HLF funding concluded in 2018, and since then we have been self-sustainable – you can help us by becoming a member, attending our events or making a donation.
HISTORY OF HALL BARN
The handsome stone agricultural building set back from High Street dates to the early 18th century. Successful lead and millstone merchant John Rotherham extended the structure and clad its internal Medieval timber frame in sandstone, concealing a spectacular secret within.
Wooden beams and king post timbers inside dating from 1430 suggest the presence of a high status Medieval Hall on the site, possibly Dronfield’s first manor house and oldest domestic building. Evidence within the structure suggests the Hall may have had a Medieval dais canopy, positioned above the Lord of the Manor’s seat at the high table when entertaining guests of distinction.
The barn formed part of the Hall Farm complex of buildings owned by the Rotherham-Cecil estate, with cottages and workshops standing in front. Dividing walls and stalls were added internally to house livestock and agricultural material. A breeze block wall and concrete floor were constructed later by Jowett’s, who used the building for storage of building supplies.