The Barn is now open until 31 October
No need to book. Visitors are advised to sanitise on arrival, register with the NHS Test and Trace system, and maintain social distancing where possible when exploring the Barn and its contents.
Sundays, 2pm - 5pm
Bank Holiday Mondays, 2pm - 5pm
Free parking is available adjacent to the Barn. Level access, but with some uneven surfaces.
Epwell Seal Matrix Event
10 October 2pm- 4:30pm
The seal matrix is a 13th century object of mystery and beauty. It was found in Epwell and is on display for the first time.
Join in with our family activities inspired by the seal matrix or chat with the Oxfordshire Museums Services’ Archaeology Team Seal. Meet the Finds Liaison Officer who works with metal detector users and finders of archaeological objects.
Fine half-cruck barn
The barn, situated in the picturesque village Swalcliffe six miles west of Banbury and surrounded by beautiful countryside, is one of the finest 15th century half-cruck barns in England.
Swalcliffe Barn, constructed in 1401 for New College, Oxford. is a Grade 1 listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
It was acquired by the Oxfordshire Buildings Trust in 1990 and is leased to Oxfordshire County Council and used by the Museums Service to exhibit agricultural and trade vehicles from the county.
The Friends of Swalcliffe Barn also stage a permanent exhibition of 2,500 years of Swalcliffe's history.
Where to find it
Displays and exhibitions
A treat for young and old
Popular with local schools and families, the sheer size of carts and vehicles are impressive to young visitors and adults.
A volunteer reported at one event: 'It was wonderful to hear the children's excited conversations echo round the lofty barn and witness their genuine interest in the transport of yesteryear.'
Fire-fighting from Robaczyn to Swalcliffe
The chance discovery of a working historic fire pump in the Polish village of Robaczyn by volunteers Colin and Cathy, led them to discover more about the history and significance of the New College, Oxford fire pump displayed in the Barn. This pump, made by Adam Nuttall of London in 1760 to protect the College from fire, was commissioned by William Wykham (1735-1783) whose ancestor commissioned the building of the Barn.
A political cartoon by Hogarth published in the Times in 1762 showed a similar pump in use. Although the New College fire pump is a rare survival, other examples still exist and several are described in the Hungerford Virtual Museum. This 1923 British Pathe News newsreel shows an almost identical pump, 188 years old, still in use in the village of Plympton. Another can be seen on Youtube being operated for the first time after its restoration in 2015.
Oxfordshire blackberries - a piece of personal history
The fruiterer’s flat trolley (early 20th Century) used by Thomas Stanford and Sons of Bicester has a grand legacy. Known as the Blackberry King of Covent Garden, men, women and children for miles around the Bicester area would collect and gather blackberries to sell to Stanford and Sons. They were transported to London on this trolley via Bicester North Station and were sold to John Lyon to make jam and also to the Swan Company for black ink. A whole empire created from Oxfordshire blackberries.