Monday, 9 July 2012

Vernacular Spectacular

As I have not been doing much travelling lately, I thought I would just show you a collection of vernacular housing types throughout the country.

Vernacular basically means "local". Before the industrial era and the invention of steam/railway i.e. the ability to mass produce material and then transport large numbers from one place to another, buildings were made of whatever the builders could get their hands on quickly and easily.

Consequently, houses were built to rules of thumb and were limited by the size and strength of the available materials.

Windows were small, hard to form and glass was very expensive.

Styles were common to regions, each one having it's own distinct style. This can be seen in cottages from:

Devon, to

Norfolk, to the


External colours were also based on local materials. The aggregate of the lime render would be a mixture of various substances particular to that area. Giving them an individual apperance unique to each region. For more information on lime read here.

Here are just a few examples throughout the country, covering various periods of vernacular architecture:

These beauties can be found in Lincoln (though make sure you are prepared to climb Steep Hill, the name is not an exaggeration!!) The one at the top is the old Norman House and the one below is the Jew's House.

Both are perfect examples of palimpsests, buildings that have been added too and changed throughout their life. Both are made of local, course stone and are medieval (12th C) in origin.

The Jew's House is one of the earliest known houses in England. The original romanesque doorway still exists under the chimney, which belongs to the fireplace upstairs. Two windows of the same period also still exist, though these have been filled in with later sash windows. The roof is also a later addition.

Similarly, the Norman House also has the remains of romanesque architecture over the door and window. The protrusion of the upper floor section with the later sash window suggests a change to the facade/internal layout.

If you are a fan of tea/coffee, you will LOVE this shop. it's shelves are filled with the most romantic concoctions that you will ever find, and the aroma is to die for.

This treasure can be found in Litchfield, near the Cathedral quarter. From it's wonky walls and roof lines. I am inclined to say the timber frame is original to the building, but the wattle and daub panelling has been replaced with brick.

It was the windows that attracted my attention.  I love their qurikyness and it looks as though the one on the first floor in the right hand corner is a filled in timber mullion window. Their shape and style make me lean toward later tudor insertions in a medieval framed building, but that is only a very basic guess.

This is again a timber framed, jettyed building that has been got at by the Georgians. If you look closely, the walls and levels are not straight but have a slight lean to them. In addition, the windows are not current to the building and have been inserted. This is possibly again tudor in origin and can be found in Cambridge on a small street running off from King's College.

This rather wonderful turret is also Cambridge, and as you can read, the street sign says it was the old Corn Exchange. This is a fantastic example of an oriel window/turret with a copper roofing. From the brick I would say this is a building belonging to the Victorian/Edwardian period. The use of stain glass in the upper story is stunning and begs the question of what was the room originally used for? Any ideas?

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