Get The Drift?

Over at Curborough Craft Centre today, I noticed a plaque on one of the converted farm buildings explaining that it was a former drift house, possibly built on the foundations of an earlier building.

Back at home, I tried to find out what exactly a drift house was used for.  It seems there are plenty of them around (including one in Stonnall) but no real explanations as to exactly what purpose they served. And believe me I’ve looked – I googled, I read (an English Heritage study into farm buildings of the West Midlands and some ye olde book on farming) and I attempted to apply logic but all to no avail.

However, what I did find was that the drift house at Curborough was surveyed in August 1984 along with other agricultural buildings in the Curborough and Elmhurst area. The report on the Heritage Gateway site includes the following information – “Mrs Hollinshead referred to this as a ‘drift barn’. It is in a poor condition; the doors are blocked with corrugated sheeting, the roof is gone and is replaced with corrugated sheeting and the north-east side has been repaired”. The report was part of the Domesday survey of barns in Staffordshire co-ordinated by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1985 and clearly the building has had a lot of TLC since then. You can read it here.

Anyway, eventually, I gave up and went off on a tangent. I’d read previously that the place name Curborough is thought to derive from the Old English ‘cweorn burna’. However, what I didn’t know is that there have been an abundance of archaeological finds in the area, indicating that Curborough was inhabited long before the Anglo-Saxons decided to build a mill on the stream here.  A site near to the farm has been identified as a possible Roman settlement with large quantities of coins, brooches, pottery, tiles and glass being discovered in the late 1990s. It seems even the Romans were relative latecomers, with Mesolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age finds also being unearthed nearby. So many wonderful discoveries and so much more to learn about this fascinating place I’m sure. However, at this moment in time, I’ll settle for an explanation of what a drift house (or barn) is, if anyone can help!


‘Townships: Curborough and Elmshurst’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990)

Curiouser & Curiouser

On my work journey between Lichfield and Stafford, I used to drive past Wolseley Bridge twice a day, twice a week for two years, always curious about the collection of buildings and machinery opposite The Wolseley Centre and always meaning to return and take a proper look. Today I finally did!

The buildings house antiques, arts and craft businesses. Most are rescued relics from the our agricultural past – barns, stables and dovecotes. The main barn, facing the road, is thought to date back to the 17th century. It was taken down from Parchfield Farm in Colwich and re-erected here in 1985 and there’s a photograph here on Staffordshire Past Track of the work being carried out.

Side view of Parchfields Barn and Dovecote

Today I was lucky enough to see the re-construction of a timber framed building taking place for myself. Willey Barn came to Wolseley from Willey Lodge, in Presteigne, Powys in 1990. By 1993 one half of the barn, a three bay cart shed, had been rebuilt at Wolseley using traditional techniques but the second half, the granary, had remained in storage until now. There are some photographs of the barn in its original location on the planning application (details below).

Other buildings on site are the Moreton Stable and Cattle Shelter, the Ranton Barns, a Dovecote and an RAC callbox. Amidst the agricultural machinery is what looks like a small mine cart with part of a track and an old petrol pump (but please correct me if I’m wrong).  I think it’s fantastic that they have been preserved and given a new lease of life here and would really like to know more about their origins.

Incredibly, the biggest curio of the day for me was not found amongst this collection but up a track leading away from the craft complex and towards the Wolseley Park Estate.   I have plumbed both the depths of the internet and my imagination but as yet can’t find an explanation for this fenced-in stone structure. Does anyone else know anything?

Structure is to right of the track


Planning application: 12/16670/FUL | Extension to provide additional exhibition area | Willey Barn Wolseley Bridges Colwich Stafford Staffordshire ST17 0XS