Architecture

Discoveries from the Deverills Part 3 – a spectacular barn with a hidden date revealed

on Thursday, 22 October 2015. Posted in Architecture

In the second part of my blog on the marvellous discoveries in the Deverills I explored what timber-framed buildings were like in the Deverill valley in the period between1500-1600, looking in particular at Timber Cottage, Crockerton. Timber Cottage was a very obviously timber-framed building, but during our investigations we found that there was much more timber-framing hiding inside later stone encasing. One of the more spectacular finds was Manor Farmhouse in Kingston Deverill, which I will discuss in my next blog.

The wonderful mixed-truss construction aisled barn belonging to Manor
farm is well-known about and recently dated by dendrochronology funded by
Wiltshire Buildings Record to 1407-10. It has a fairly unique layout of
structural trusses inside where base crucks (the very curved supports)
alternate with straight posts. Base crucks are an early form of construction
anywhere in England, and not generally found in Wiltshire after about 1350.

This dating was an improvement on the ‘probably 16th century’
date attributed by the DoE list description. It also extended what was previously thought to be the end of base-cruck construction – a very early type in the general chronology of crucks - in Wiltshire by around 60 years.

Discoveries from the Deverills Part 2- The houses that wool wealth built

on Tuesday, 11 August 2015. Posted in Architecture

In my last blog I set the economic scene in the Deverill Valley which I believe gave rise to the great prosperity, partly through the woollen industry, that became evident in the rich building heritage of that area.

An obvious later example of wool wealth in Warminster can be seen in the grand houses that clothiers such as John Wansey built for themselves. The above image is Byne House dated to 1755 photographed in 2007 just after a fire, though there is very little that I looked at in the Deverills that represents the Georgian period. Most of our discoveries came from the beginning of the early modern period when Warminster and the Deverills had rich agricultural resources that were exploited by the lords of the manor such as Glastonbury Abbey, who owned Longbridge and Monkton Deverill in the Medieval period.

Before we look at individual buildings, what does a house of c1500 look like?

Discoveries from the Deverills Part 1- Setting the Scene

on Wednesday, 03 June 2015. Posted in Architecture

When you drive through the Deverill Valley what do you see? Villages that are strung like beads on the common thread that is the Deverill stream. Last week I gave a talk about some of the wonderful buildings discovered during the Victoria County History investigation into the Deverill Valley, south of Warminster, part of the former West Wilts area. Hitherto-unrecorded historic fabric of good-quality timber-framed houses was found dating from c1500. Prosperity at that time would have translated into lasting assets such as the farmhouses and cottages that made up the villages, as well as the churches.

The villages themselves are made up of low stone and brick cottages, some thatched, some tiled, tucked away in their plots or set in rows along the edge of the road. All have been modified by time to the appearance you now see.

When a building is more than a hundred years old you can bet that it will have undergone a major change at least once a century. By that token can you judge a book by its cover? When buildings are listed the Heritage officer concerned will look at the outside to make a judgement. If they are lucky they might be invited in to see the interior before they do that. In the Deverills there were obviously a lot of people out that day, otherwise they might have changed their minds.

‘A hotbed of Emms’ the story of a Bratton House

on Tuesday, 10 March 2015. Posted in Architecture

We were asked to investigate a small cottage in Lower Road, Bratton a little while ago by the descendant of the original builder. It’s not often this happens, and we were rather nervous about reporting on the documentary history when the protagonists are so intimately connected to the client; the odd murder and nefarious activity has not been unknown…

It appears that the cottage built by Benjamin Emm started as two dwellings. His will of 1803 clearly stated that the house was occupied by his son James and also John Balsh which would account for the two front doors, one now blocked. Benjamin was an enterprising individual who made one small cottage pay its way!

Rare Interiors: Surviving Polychrome Wall-Paintings in Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 23 December 2014. Posted in Architecture

In October we were lucky enough to have a visit from Dr Andrea Kirkham, a specialist conservator of wall paintings and polychrome decoration. Andrea comes from Norwich and has made extensive study of wall and panel paintings in Suffolk. She is now gathering information for a wider-ranging study of the subject. We had heard Andrea lecture in Essex and invited her to look at some Wiltshire examples including 92, 93 & 94 Bradenstoke, Lyneham, where good remains of a polychrome scheme were recently discovered. It appears that most surviving secular wall-paintings date from 1500-1700, in Suffolk, and that certainly seems to be the case here in Wiltshire.

From bakehouses to bastions - being a volunteer with Wiltshire Building Record

on Tuesday, 07 October 2014. Posted in Architecture

I have been a volunteer with the Wiltshire Buildings Record for around twelve years.  Volunteering for me is a privilege and a pleasure.  I can choose to do it when it suits and it fits around my family.  The benefits have been many.  Life-long learning is very important to me.  Here, I am immersed in buildings archaeology, which is my passion.  My more experienced colleagues are generous with their time and knowledge.  They have given me the confidence to explore my interests more deeply.

There is no such thing as a typical week.  My work is varied.  Recently I have been busy letting people know about our annual Study Day “Dating Clues in Period Houses” which is on 8th November.   Yesterday morning I helped with the filing.  Afterwards we met with a paint conservator who is doing a PhD in 16-17th C painting schemes.  She came all the way from Suffolk to research what the WBR has found in Wiltshire, and to share her research findings with us.  It was fascinating and we will put our latest understanding into practice when recording buildings.  In the afternoon I went to Malmesbury where we made a record of the historic fabric in a small 19th C house.  This included what may be the remains of a lost bastion from the medieval town wall!

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