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Over the years Lains Barn has been used for a wide range of functions, from the simple to the exotic – wedding ceremonies and receptions, May balls, family celebrations, barbecues and banquets, dinner dances, company lunches and dinners, conferences, training courses, opera, theatre, jazz and folk evenings, TV shows, barn dances and ceilidhs. In 1997 Lains Barn became an approved venue for civil marriage ceremonies in Wantage, Oxfordshire. 

Lains Barn was originally used for corn. During the harvest, wagons would enter through the large doors. The sheaves were unloaded and stored at either end of the barn. Later, during the Winter, these were threshed with flails between the two open doors, using the draught of air to separate the grain from the straw.

In Victorian times, corn was threshed by machine, so the barn was extended with the addition of an L-shaped cow byre enclosing a fold yard. In 1970 the barn was no longer useful for modern farming methods – planning permission for residential use had been refused – and it’s future was threatened by demolition. In 1977 the Vale and Downland Museum Trust in Wantage acquired the property to restore it for the community.

The restoration of the barn was initiated by Dr Dick Squires. Conversion plans for the barn were basic but flexible, leaving the majestic spaces intact. As a pioneer project it created great interest in architectural circles. The Montague Report “A Policy for the re-use of Britain’s Historic Buildings” states:

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