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Town House

The Village

History : Map : Aerial Photos

A Brief History of Barley

There have been settlements in the parish of Barley for, perhaps 3000 years, from the Bronze Age dwellers who built a hill fort on the chalk hills near Royston, through to Iron Age farmers on the north edge of the village around 100 BC.  The Romans left evidence of occupation and burials to the west, but it was in Saxon times that the village acquired its name, not from the crop widely grown in the area but corrupted over the years from Beora's Ley, describing a Saxon Lord's clearing in woodland.  In the Domesday Book it is recorded as Berlei.

High StreetIn the early days the village would have been centred on the Church; the first recorded priest was Alaric the Dane in 1123.  A more substantial building was erected in Norman Times, the chancel arch still remains and was incorporated in a significant rebuilding to designs by William Butterfield in 1872.  Opposite the Church is the Town House, built around 1530 and used for many purposes since: as a school, for storing the village fire engine and the 'Town Arms' and for the 'Keeping of maides marriages' (almshouses for spinsters).  Now it is a fine and unique village hall and licensed for civil marriages.

War Memorial & Lock-upSome of the older houses can be identified on a map of the village compiled in 1593; the Priors (at Richmonds Garage) and Horseshoe Farm are mentioned by name.  The Cross Hill is a focus of Barley history, with the Fox and Hounds pub and it's sign spanning the road, moved from the High Street when the original pub of that name burned down in 1950.  The War Memorial was built in 1919 and next to it is the Cage or Lock-up, built in the 17th century to deter local criminals.  At the Old Forge the King family used to shoe horses and make fine wrought iron work and now it is used for repairing veteran cars.   Along the London Road is a milestone set in the hedge, one of 16 put up in 1730 to record distances to London and Cambridge.

Plaistow Play AreaHowever, Barley is far more than a collection of historic buildings.  It is a thriving community blessed with a fine First School, the services of a shop, two pubs and two garages.  Farms and small businesses provide employment for some, whilst the good communications attract commuters.  The community spirit is reflected in a variety of clubs and organisations, and the ability of the village to raise funds for maintaining the old buildings, such as the Town House, supporting the school and embarking on new schemes to benefit the inhabitants, such as the provision of a children's area and sports facilities in the Plaistow, two acres of land given to the people of the village by King Edgar in the 10th century.

Village people have provided some footnotes in history, notably two Archbishops of Canterbury and the first English mayor of New York.  Pioneering scientists, including a recent Nobel Prize winner, have valued the atmosphere of the village and it's surrounding countryside.  It has inspired artists, writers and musicians but whatever your role in life it is the perfect place to live!

Geoffrey Wilkerson

Aerial Pictures

Small 'Satellite' type picture looking straight down

This is Barley from the air taken around the year 2000. Click the image to expand it and press the 'Back' button to return to this page.

barley Aerial2.jpg (29472 bytes)
Large 'Light Aircraft' type picture.

This Button will take you to a HUGE aerial picture of the village. It is nearly 200 Kbs and will take at least 1 minute to download on most computers!  



A Map of Barley

Surgery Scout Hut Lovely View Stables Shop Town House Barley Church Barley School Fox and Hounds The Chequers Cricket Club Plaistow Click on a place of interest for more details.