The recorded history of Barnes Hall Estate spans some eight centuries. The name ‘Bernes’ is listed in the 14th century Membra Castri de Sheffield .
In 1448 the ‘Manerium de Barnes’ was purchased by its most famous owner, Thomas Scott, Archbishop of York, more commonly known as Thomas Rotherham from his birthplace. Appointed Lord Chancellor by Edward IVth, he lost favour for a while after Edward’s death but was eventually re-instated by Richard III. Thomas Rotherham left the Barnes estate to his nephew in his will (1500). Thereafter Barnes Hall remained in the Scott and Watts Horton Family until 1823.
This period saw the building of the West Barn – a five bay, timber framed threshing barn (16th/17th Century) whose box-frame construction makes it unusual for this location at the time. (See English Heritage Listing 1413933 and AW’s Historical Statement for planning permission). Many of the timbers still remain and will be visibly incorporated in the new design. At this time it was an Arable Farm, the huge double height doorways allowed access for wagons and a threshing floor. Also dating from this period is the Dovecote although its earlier incarnation was probably as a Gazebo overlooking the Hall gardens. The Enclosure Awards map 1788 clearly shows the West Barn, the Dovecote ( Eng. Her. Listing), and two parallel buildings to the north, the further one being the original Cartshed (Eng.Her listing).
Big changes occurred in the 1820s when William Smith, a local solicitor, landowner (e.g.Cowley Manor) and brewery owner (Smith and Redfern) bought the estate. He built a new Hall (1824) and a complementary stable block.
The farm buildings also received a facelift. It was probably at this time that it became a mixed farm. The introduction of cattle meant housing and milking facilities. The existing barn received a single story extension on the farmyard side and adjoining its south end. A new North Barn was built to house the grain. The cart shed was improved, the corner between the west and north barns was filled in with a dairy and with single story covered shelter along the east side of the farmyard, the enclosure was complete. The buildings were given a unifying, quality, finish of sand stone dressed and laid in the local manner.
By the end of the Second World War the Smith Family’s occupancy was coming to an end. William McKenzie Smith was the last incumbent of the Hall. He was Lt. Colonel of the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons and President of the Law Society. His wife, Lady Mabel Smith, while not sharing such high political office as Thomas Rotherham, shared the Archbishop’s passion for education. She was influential in the WEA movement and instrumental in the Ladies P.E. college named after her being established at Wentworth Woodhouse (her family home) after the war. Both she and Thomas Rotherham have schools that still carry their name.
In 1956, on the death Col. Mckenzie Smith, the estate was broken up. The farmer who had been farming for the Smiths was able to buy the farm. Byron Shaw built a farm house on site and three generations later Geoff Byron Shaw still farms part of it, while the Open House Project are the new owners of these interesting and attractive buildings.