John was working as a Commercial & Agricultural Surveyor - selling steel framed barns to farmers - and one of his clients was about to knock down an old cruck framed timber barn to replace it with a shiny new building. John had worked on many old oak frames (restoring old pubs and oak buildings with his father Reg) and knew it was an important - and beautiful - structure. In a state of panic he rashly offered £1,000 for the timber barn, which he dismantled and transported 20 miles back to his orchard in Herefordshire.
Patsy, John's wife, was understandably worried about the money John had paid for a pile of old wood - so John tried to rectify the situation, promising to rebuild the barn and create an incredible family home for them and their young family. Over the next couple of years John worked diligently with his brother in law Mark re-erecting the vast barn (often cursing the fact they hadn't had the foresight, or time, to survey the original structure or annotate each piece) repairing and restoring as they went. However, when John asked the planning department for permission to convert the barn into a home, the Conservation Officer - who was hugely impressed with their work and their efforts to save an early medieval structure - insisted that John add an extension to the side of the original building. Without this there would be no approval - and he stipulated that this extension must be constructed using a green oak frame.
John knew that green oak framing had died out 250 years ago, but with a design and construction background (and a carpenter brother-in-law) he decided he would make the frame himself. Reg helped Mark and John set up a small workshop in the orchard and word quickly spread about the revival of green oak framing.