1731 – Granary
Threshed grain was valuable and needed protection from damp, from thieves and especially from rats and mice. Farmers would keep some of it as seed for planting in the future or to be processed into foodstuffs. More important, in cash terms, was the surplus to be sold at market. This had to be stored carefully. On a small farm, a space in the house might suffice, or a corner of the barn if it were dry enough. On larger farms, however, a granary was needed so grain could be kept in good condition while the farmer waited for the best time to sell. Otherwise it would have to be taken to market fairly quickly, or it would begin to rot. This neat little building stands on its own, although granaries were sometimes built above a stable or cattle shed. Why are the mushroom-shaped supports used under the granary?
In designing a storage building for grain and other perishable foodstuffs, the key problems to overcome are damp and the attentions of rodents. In the traditional granary, one of the most effective ways of dealing with this was to raise the structure clear of the ground. Sometimes the granary might be a first-floor room above a stable or the open cartshed - this was the preferred form in the Midlands and North and in most of Wales and Scotland, and it makes for a large and handsome building. In southern England, however, the granary would very commonly be a small, separate structure that stood on what are called staddle stones. These mushroom-shaped supports are brilliantly functional - the smooth surface and overhanging cap would defeat rats and mice. Staddle stones from long-vanished granaries can often be seen in rural areas, ornamenting gardens and driveways. Few (if any) granaries of this kind remain in use for their intended purpose but they are picturesque little buildings and many have been spared from demolition by being adapted to store seed or fertiliser. A granary almost identical to the one in the illustration, dating from 1731, can be seen at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex. Such granaries are basically timber-framed boxes, either weatherboarded or with panels of brick nogging between the timbers. A two-storeyed version was not unknown. Thatch was perhaps less common than slates or tiles for the roof but, as with the door, floor and walls, the materials used had to be tight-fitting, solid and secure -the gnawing abilities of vermin can never be underestimated. The interior was normally plastered or lined with timber, and the grain was stored either in sacks or loose, in open bins. This latter method, it was claimed, deterred thieves. As late as the 1950s, British Railways was mass-producing small raised structures using the same principle, but made in sectional concrete, for use as agricultural provender stores at rural stations.