The knowledge is in the details...

by David Swatton May. 14, 2019 499 views

I live in an old house - that, I knew - English Heritage list it as being built in the second half of the 17th century. I had also assumed that the oak beams that make up the frame for the house were salvaged from some other buildings that were dismantled. They are full of auger hols, notches, grooves and other marks that essentially have nothing to do with the house.

I found out today that that assumption is correct and, surprisingly for me at least, some of the beams are much older. I had a visit from a buildings historian who has done a lot of research into buildings in this part of the country and within five minutes of coming in he spotted beams that he could tell pre-dated the accepted construction date for the house.

In the rather poor picture below of a beam in the house you can just about make out diagonal saw marks in the wood. In the top half of the pic the marks go diagonally top left to bottom right and in the lower half of the pic the go diagonally bottom left to top right leaving a flat triangular piece in the centre-left.

This pattern is a classic illustration of the result of wood that was trestle-sawn whereby the carpenter would place the beam on trestles and cut through half of it, then spin the beam round and cut through the other half. This method of sawing timber is very old and ceased in this area before about 1530-40 after when beams were cut using a pit-sawn method.

Where the beams were re-used from is impossible to determine. It's unlikely they came from a dismantled barn or agricultural building as they would generally have been used until they rotted and collapsed. More likely is that they came from another house that was dismantled. The most romantic notion is that they originated in the castle on the hill behind the village that was deliberately slighted in the Civil War which coincidentally fits well with the accepted construction date for the house... who knows? Anyone got a time machine I can borrow?

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Marilyn Grimble 2 years, 4 months ago

Fascinating information and illustration. Mx

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Marilyn Grimble 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Marilyn - got to love local history! smile

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 2 years, 4 months ago

What an interesting surprise/mystery to have in your home!

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Bethany Plonski 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks - it was. As I say, we knew the house is old but getting more definite info is always great.

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab 2 years, 4 months ago

I love the photo and the texture you have capture as well as the knots but really David, are you trying to tell us  that not only you have a beautiful view from your location, but you also live in a castle or at least parts of a castle?😉

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Camellia Staab 2 years, 4 months ago

What do they say - "you couldn't make this sh*t up!"   The castle above the village was mostly demolished by the then owners, the Harley family, in 1642. You probably don't know much about the English Civil Wars but it was a struggle between Royalists (supporters of the then king Charles I), and Parliament. The Harleys were Parliamentarians in an area that was predominantly Royalist so they decided to demolish the castle to stop it falling into the hands of the Royalists. In all likelihood the locals would then have robbed the site for building materials - oak beams were very valuable as was already cut stone - so it makes sense that buildings in the village dating from roughly that period might include material robbed from that site. Of course there is no guarantee that is the case - just an interesting hypothesis.

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to David Swatton 2 years, 4 months ago

My sarcasm forced you to educate me...that is definitely a plus smile  So out of curiosity any chance we could admire the house in it entirety?

On a more serious note, do you find the upkeep of the house more difficult because of its age? Did you have to do a lot of remodeling?

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Camellia Staab 2 years, 4 months ago

I posted this Christmas before last - the house taken by the woman who runs the pub across the road....

https://www.photoblog.com/davids/2017/12/21/merry-christmas/

And, yes - there's always stuff to do!

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to David Swatton 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks David.....somehow I don't remember seeing it although I did post I liked it. Old age smile

2 years, 4 months ago Edited
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