When Ravilious took this photograph it must have seemed a miracle that the barn was still standing, with its wonky walls, cracked stonework and missing slates. But, echoing the defiance of the bull which looks out through the window frame, it is still there today.
In fact, the image has changed little since it was taken, says Graham Ward of Parsonage Farm; and Graham should know, because it’s a view he sees every day when he’s in his garden and working on the farm that’s been in his family for generations.
“It used to be a granary,” he says. “It had steps at the side and the corn was stored above. It must be about 400-500 years old and it looks just the same, although it does have a new slate roof.”
The granary was built with a stone base and cob walls, which made it cool in the summer and warm in the winter, says Graham.
“You don’t appreciate it when you’re younger, but as you get older you can see how it’s unique and blends in with the landscape – as long as you keep the roof going,” he says.
It’s not the only old building on the farm. Another barn is used to house an exhibition of First World War artifacts, a collection that came about through the farm’s connection to War Horse, the children’s novel written by Michael Morpurgo. The book tells the story of a horse taken from a farm to be used in battle on the front line and Morpurgo found inspiration for the book at Parsonage Farm, which he knew well.
Another famous connection is the Rev Jack Russell, the first breeder of the terriers to which he gives his name. He lived at the farm from 1830-40. Jack Russells, horses … it’s easy to imagine any of them looking out of the window. But these days it’s home to a few miniature pigs. “I don’t think they could look out of the window,” says Graham. “Unless they had a trampoline!”
Members of the public are welcome to visit Parsonage Farm at War Horse Valley Country Farm Park, but there is an entry fee. For more details go to www.warhorsevalley.co.uk.
Visitors can take photos of the barn by going through the gardens on to the vegetable patch with care. To go inside the barn they would need to contact Rose or Graham Ward in advance. Visitors would also need to wear good footwear, such as wellington boots to walk around the farm and buildings.