Blakeney, Swan House (SO 672070)

South range, parlour wing, and staircase tower Felling dates: Spring 1628; Winter 1628/9

Posts 1598(h/s), 1594(h/s), 1593(3), 1583; Transverse beam 1603(h/s); Purlins (4/5) 1628(45C), 1627(47¼C), 1608(7+15C NM), 1561 (h/s); Principal rafters 1594(4), 1589(h/s), 1589, 1577; Rails (2/4) 1599(6), 1598(h/s); Door post 1608(15+1NM); Tiebeam 1593(h/s); Strut 1602(h/s); Valley rafter 1584(h/s). Site Master 1386–1628 SWANHS (t = 11.2 DORE2; 10.9 WALES97; 10.8 SALOP95). 40-VEA 10.indd 18 2009-9-24 17:25:32

Swan House comprises four sections: the south range; the stair tower; a rear wing; and an east wing, the parlour range. The south range has stone rubble ground floor walls with close-studded timber framing for the fi rst floor, though evidence from the stops on the ground floor ceiling beams suggest the house was originally fully timber framed; its ground floor has a central passage with a single room on each side for hall and service, and the first floor also has a central passage. The original stair tower on the north wall has been enlarged. The trusses in the attic are very unusual in that the principal rafters do not rise from the tiebeams or wall posts but are tenoned into diagonally set members. These are tenoned into the tops of the tiebeam at about 6ft from their ends and extend outwards to the underside of the roof at approximately 30° where they are supported on very short studs. These members do not appear ever to have extended past the present roof line. Why this extremely complicated framing arrangement has been used is unclear. Dating commissioned by the owner.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2009, VA 40, list 212)

BLOCKLEY, St George’s Terrace, Porch House (SP 165 350)

Felling date range: 1535–40

Principal rafters (4/5) 1455, 1526(9), 1527(4), 1535(18+3NM); Purlins (1/4) 1503; Tiebeams (1/3) 1511(24+18NM); Collars (2/2) 1521 (h/s), 1531(12+3NM). Site Master 1453–1531 phb712m (t = 6.4 TUHWNT, 6.0 STOKE3, 6.0 DITTON5).

Porch House is listed as being of the early eighteenth century, probably around the 1720s. It is roughly symmetrical with cross-wings on either side projecting slightly at the front; Porch Cottage was added later as an extension on the west end. The front door is off-centre with, inside it, an arrangement of doors and entrance hall somewhat resembling a medieval cross-passage. The roofs all have the same truss form with principal rafters carrying two tiers of trenched purlins and a collar (removed in the west wing and replaced with a higher nailed-on collar). Queen struts remain on some trusses, and the hall trusses are lightly smoke-blackened. Thin curved windbraces also remain. The timber sequences did not match each other well, but dated individually against reference material. The dating demonstrates that the eighteenth-century facade conceals a sixteenth-century house. Dating commissioned by the owners.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2009, VA 40, list 212)

IRON ACTON, Algar’s Manor
(ST 676831)

Main Range Felling date: Winter 1559/60

Lower purlin 1559(22C); Crossbeams 1559(19C, 21C, 23C). Site Master 1381–1559 ALGARS (t = 11.5 MASTERAL; 11.1 ACTON; 11 SOMRST04).

Algar’s Manor is a large stone building with a main range containing hall, parlour and kitchen. To the end of the house a pantry has been attached, while to the back of the house a kitchen, dairy, and two-storey parlour with a garderobe tower have been added. The house appears to have been remodelled in the sixteenth century, to which date most of the surviving features belong, including a fireplace and a richly-moulded ceiling in the hall, an oriel window, and a stair turret. The roof of the main range is composed of five heavy collar-beam trusses with tiebeams supporting the attic floor; all the trusses have two pairs of butt purlins and tenoned collars. The dendrochronology shows that the ground-floor ceiling joists and the roof structure are of the same date. The added range was not sampled. See Linda J. Hall, The Rural Houses of North Avon and South Gloucestershire (1983), 179ff.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2009, VA 40, list 212)

KEMPLEY, Church of St Mary (SO 670 321)

Felling date range: 1120-1150

(a)     Nave roof

Rafters 1105; 1108 (H/S); 1108 (H/S); 1111 (H/S); 1114 (H/S); Sole pieces (6/8) 1104; 1105 (H/S); 1107 (H/S); 1108; 1112; 1114 (3); Struts (re-used lower collars) 1105; 1106.  Site Master  1036-1114  KEMPLEY1 (t=7.8 WSTNSTOW; 7.6 BORDESLY; 7.3 MONMOUTH)

(b)     West door

Felling date range: 1114-1144

Planks 1083 (+20 NM); 1099 (+4 NM to H/S bdy).   Site Master  959-1099  KEMPLEY2 (t=8.7 VINTNER; 8.4 THAMESEX; 8.3 WALES97)

(c)     Repairs to nave roof east gable

Felling date range: 1357-1387

Rafters (1/2)  1346 (H/S); Ashlar 1345 (H/S).  Site Master  1290-1346  KEMPLEY3 (t=8.1 SOUTH; 7.8 SENG98; 7.3 READING)

(d)     Dug-out parish chest

Felling date range: 1492-1522

Log radii 1443; 1466; 1468; 1436 (+46 NM to H/S bdy); 1452 (+28 NM to H/S bdy).  Site Master  1329-1468  KEMPLEY4 (t=7.2 WICK; 6.8 COMMDERY; 6.7 HERE14C)

KEMPLEY, Church of St Mary (SO 670 321) OxCal update.

Felling date range: 1128-1132 (OxCal; unrefined 1120-1150 (roof); 1114-1144 (door))

This church has the oldest in-situ roof so far identified in Britain. The original date (VA 30, 99) has been refined using OxCal, treating the roof and the door as a single assemblage.

The roof of the nave consists of fifteen internal trusses dated to 1120-50 plus an external rafter-couple which was a late medieval repair, dating to between 1357 to 1387.  The fifteen internal trusses are formed using lap-dovetail joints, apart from where the rafters pass over the sole-pieces where a halving joint has been employed. Each truss originally consisted of a pair of rafters, an upper collar and lower collar, sole pieces and ashlars. The collars were connected to each other and to the rafters with small-scantling struts.  Inscribed dates of 1670 and 1671 mark the insertion of the present timber ceiling of the nave which necessitated the removal of the lower collars and struts.  Many of these collars have been cut into shorter lengths and re-used as raking struts from the new ceiling to the rafters. The nave roof was extensively repaired in the early 1980s, when the use of tree-ring dating for standing buildings was just beginning in England. Sixteen samples from timbers with potential for dating were collected from offcuts of repaired timbers, recorded, and placed in storage. Subsequent detailed recording of the offcuts for English Heritage have revealed a fascinating series of important carpentry details, the most interesting being the use of a fully-developed mortice-and-tenon joint for one of the ashlars into a sole piece, the earliest thus far recorded in the British Isles.

As well as the roof, both the south door of the nave and the west door into the tower appear to be primary Norman carpentry.  The door between the nave and the west tower is comprised of three vertical planks of oak originally fastened together with four slip-tenons per joint and four bands of iron on the outside face.  The three boards are tapered to reflect the thickening of the tree towards the butt end; the southern and middle planks are aligned with the butt of the tree at the bottom, whereas the north plank has been reversed with the butt of the tree at the top.  The felling date range of one plank of 1114-1144 fits well with that for the roof of 1120-1150.

The Kempley Chest has been formed by hollowing out a large log which would have originated from a tree four feet in diameter.  The top has been rebated 2 inches to receive a curved elm lid, and both the chest and the chest are bound in iron.  The felling date range of between 1492 and 1522 for the church chest is surprising given its simple, even crude, method of construction.  The dating was commissioned by English Heritage and carried out in conjunction with Cathy Groves of Sheffield University.  For further information see Miles, D H, Worthington,  M J, and Groves, C M  1999  Tree-ring analysis of the nave roof, west door, and parish chest from the Church of  St Mary, Kempley, Gloucestershire AML Report, 36/99  (Miles and Worthington 1999, VA 30, list 100) (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2008, VA 39, list 203)

English Heritage's page for St Mary's Church

STANLEY PONTLARGE, The Cottage (SO 9991 3027)

a)       Main range

Felling dates: Spring, summer 1388

Axial beam 1356 (H/S); Cruck 1387 (36¼C; Arch-brace 1387 (22½C ). Site Master 1231-1387 STNLYPLG  (t=7.3 HANTS97; 6.9 WINDSOR; 6.5 ENSTONE)

b)      Re-used timber

Felling date range: 1490-1500

Head-beam re-used as purlin 1464 (+26 NM). Site Master 1357-1464 spl4 (t=7.0 NEWDIG1; 6.7 MASTERAL; 6.5 SOUTH)

The Cottage is a three-bay stone-built house, standing on the edge of the hamlet of Stanley Pontlarge.  It retains the upper parts of two apparent arch-braces cruck trusses with saddle apexes (type C), whose lower parts were removed by the insertion of a seventeenth-century attic floor.  The trusses are aligned with two heavy transverse beams and the tree-ring dating has now shown that these are of the same date as the trusses.  Thus, the house was of two storeys originally, with the earliest known upper crucks (i.e. with the blades carried on ceiling beams).  This very unusual arrangement is reminiscent of the medieval priests’ houses examined by W. A. Pantin (Medieval Archaeol. 1 (1957), 118-46); this similarity and the date suggests an association with Hailes Abbey which in 1386 appropriated the tithes of Stanley Pontlarge.  An incomplete but probable documentary link can be established with a ‘messuage and yardland’ belonging to Hailes Abbey at the Dissolution)  See N.W. Alcock, ‘The Cottage, Stanley Pontlarge’, unpublished report for the owner, Mrs S. Rolt, who commissioned the dating. (Miles and Worthington 2001, VA 32, list 116)

TEWKESBURY, 4 Barton Street (SO 893 327)

(a) Rear Range Felling date: Winter 1474/5

(b) Front range Felling date: c. 1485

(a) Corner post 1450; Principal rafter 1444; Tiebeam 1474(15C). (b) Purlin 1447(+18C NM); Ceiling joist 1461(3 + 24NM). Site Masters (a) 1367–1474 TEWKES4 (t = 7.0 WORDSQ01, 6.5 BOWERCT, 6.2 BEWDLEY2); (b) 1340–1447 twb15 (t = 8.7 MOATHSE1, 7.6 CBMASQ01, 6.8 ALLSTRET); 1399–1461 twb22 (t = 7.8 BAYTON, 6.6 BOWERCT, 5.8 TEWKES1).

The two-storey front range is set parallel to the road and is unusual as it is lower than the other buildings fronting this part of Barton Street. The rear range is relatively complete and unaltered. It is set at an angle to the front range and is now seen to be slightly earlier. Dating commissioned by the owner.PCC.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2009, VA 40, list 212)

TEWKESBURY, 5 Barton Street (SO 893 327)

Felling date: Winter 1654/55

Ceiling beam 1650(7); Beam 1654(13C). Site Master 1590-1654 TEWKES3 (t = 6.6 TEWKES2; 5.7 NEWHALL2; 5.6 CLUNBY3).

The building has three storeys with the addition of a cellar and an attic. The ground floor is retail. The present brick façade is eighteenth century, but the original building was timber-framed. Initially the building was two storey, the third floor and attic being added at a later date, perhaps when the brick façade was built. The house has a fine eighteenth-century staircase. Dating commissioned by the owner.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2008, VA 39, list 203)

WINTERBOURNE, Court Farm Barn, Church Lane (ST 641 808)

Felling dates: Winter 1340/41, Summer 1341, Spring 1342

Crucks 1341(26¼C), 1340(23½C), 1339(33, 31), 1338(32, 22); Purlins 1340(20C), 1338(12); Collars 1339(31, 17).  Site Master  1177-1341  WNTERBRN (t=13.4 MASTERAL; 12.7 SOUTH; 11.4 ENGCOMBE)

In its original extent, the barn at Winterbourne was probably of 11 bays, and at least 143 ft (43m) long by 26 ft (8m) wide internally, although it might have stretched to 12 bays on symmetry grounds.  It would also have had two great porches originally, but the building has now been reduced to 7 bays and one porch, with 6 roof trusses.  The trusses are outstanding examples of raised crucks with strongly-elbowed cruck blades, raised about 9 ft (2.7m) off the ground and standing on timber pads built into the wall.  The crucks carry arch-braced collars and rise to saddles supporting the square-set ridge piece 31 ft (10m) above the floor.  One of the trusses is slightly shorter and employs a short king post above the saddle to support the ridge.  There are two sets of purlins, with wind braces to the lower set.  They are tenoned into the blades either side of the cross-entry, but are trenched into the backs of the crucks, or packing pieces, on the other trusses.  Most of the original rafters survive. For further details see Miles, D W H 2001  Tree-Ring Dating of Court Farm Barn, Church Lane, Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, Centre for Archaeol Rep, 34/2001.

Dendrochronology commissioned by English Heritage to supplement and enhance the original study undertaken by Roland Harris and Jennifer Hillam (1991)  (Tree-ring dating of oak cores from the Tithe Barn at Winterbourne, near Bristol, Avon, AML Rep 46/91; VA 23, 44-7).  Previously, only an estimated felling date range of 1326-1368 could be produced, but selectively re-sampling of the same crucks, plus an additional six timbers, allowed 10 precise, or nearly precise, felling dates to be given.  Some degradation of the outer surface of the timber on some of the samples has produced a very narrow date range of a year or two, but are all consistent with a latest felling date of spring 1342. (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 107)

Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust Trustees and supporters are campaigning to continue the process of revitalisation across the whole farmstead to ensure that the site is protected, celebrated and used as a unique historical asset for the future.

WINTERBOURNE, Frenchay Chapel (ST 640776)

Felling dates: Spring 1685, Spring 1687, and Winter 1691/2

Common rafter 1691(20C); Purlins (6/7) 1686(28¼C), 1684(30¼C), 1683(30), 1668(15), 1657(3+23¼C NM), 1656(H/S+28NM); Principal rafters (0/2).  Site Master 1533-1692 FRENCHAY (t = 10.7 HANTS02; 9.2 OXON93; 8.3 SARUMBP7)

Frenchay Chapel is located on the north side of Frenchay common just outside of the city limits of Bristol. The chapel is of square plan with two centre posts supporting the valley beam below a double hipped roof covered with clay pantiles. The seven-year variation in felling dates show that some of the wood was stockpiled before the building was constructed during or just after 1692, which correlates well with a lease dated 10th March 1691[/2]. This chapel was built within a few years of the Toleration Act of 1689 which granted nonconformist congregations a measure of legal recognition and allowed them to build their own places of worship. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 177)

Bristol Unitarians the present owners of Frenchay Chapel

WOTTON-UNDER-EDGE, Old Manse (ST 759 932)       

Felling date: Spring 1493

Mantel beam 1320; Upper crucks 1492(25¼C), 1489(5, 39), 1481(H/S). Site Masters 1193-1320 omw5 (t = 11.4 WNTERBRN; 8.0 FIDDLE1; 7.7 HANTS02); 1377-1492 OLDMANSE (t = 8.8 FORD; 7.9 HANTS02; 7.8 MC16)

The Old Manse, Wotton-under-Edge, is a three-bay two-storied house. The building is basically Georgian in plan and detailing, but retains two sets of upper cruck trusses in the attic rooms dating to 1493.  The mantel beam to the left-hand gable-end stack dated with a last measured ring of 1320 without sapwood or heartwood/sapwood boundary but is probably reused in the present structure.  Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)