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Best selling author opens Grade 1 listed barn following three year multi-million pound conservation

One of Kent’s most flamboyant ‘farm’ buildings will officially be opened next week (15 September) following a multi-million pound conservation project partly funded by English Heritage.

The opening of the Grade 1 listed barn, one of only two such examples in the country, at the once forgotten Westenhanger Castle, near Hythe, will conclude almost three years of painstaking rebuilding of the barn, built in the 1580s by Thomas ‘Customer’ Smythe, customs collector for Queen Elizabeth I.

The main feature of the 3,032 sq ft barn is an ostentatious hammerbeam roof, usually associated with buildings of much more grandeur, such as Hampton Court, Eltham Palace and Westminster Hall.

Thomas Smythe, known as ‘Customer’ during his time as Queen Elizabeth I’s collector of customs throughout the country, lived at Westenhanger Castle from 1555 to 1591. Eleven of his 13 children were born at the Castle, including third child Thomas, who financed the construction of three ships that established the first English speaking colony in Virginia, USA, in 1607. A replica of one of the ships, Discovery, is now permanently sited at the Castle.

Best selling author Alison Weir will officially open the Smythe Barn in front of many of the partners involved in the barn conservation.

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