BERWICK BASSETT, Old Farmhouse (SU 97457356), main range

Felling date range: 1446-1457 (OxCal; unrefined 1442-71)

Principal Rafters 1434(H/S), 1430(H/S), 1429(H/S2); Arch-brace 1441(12). Site Master 1344-1434 OFHB (t = 8.2 SSWITHUN; 7.5 ALTON_T4; 7.4 STRETEFM).

This has a long range of six bays with a two-storey porch and a jettied wing on the north. At present the ground floor is of stone, and the first floor is of timber with curved tension-bracing. The roof is of tiebeam construction with double purlins, and with arch-braced-collar trusses in the centre of each double bay. The eastern two bays are smoke blackened. Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2008, VA 39, list 203)

CHUTE, Gable End, Upper Chute (SU 429 153)

Felling dates:  Winter 1575/6 to Summer 1576

Wall plates 1575 (19C, 22C); Purlins (1/2) 1575 (20½C); Truncated tiebeam 1575 (24¼C); Brace 1546 (7+28C NM); Centre post, stud (0/2). Site Master 1471-1575 CHUTE (t=6.2 UPWICH3; 6.2 SALOP95; 5.8 HEREFC)

Gable End, Upper Chute, was built shortly after 1575/6 as a single-bay structure approximately 18 ft square and 11 ft high to the wall plate.  The three wholly surviving walls include large central posts which support the intermediate rails at a height of approximately 3 ft 6 inch.  Heavy 4 inch wide vertical studs run both above and below this line at 2 ft centres, although mortices reveal that originally the studs were at 1 ft centres.  At each corner the tiebeams are halved over the wall-plates with curved braces rising to meet the tiebeams and straight braces to the wall-plates, and with evidence for dragon ties.  It appears that the building was fabricated with a hipped roof in mind, as rafter seatings are found on all four wall-plates, and the ends of the wall-plates are cut to provide clearance for hip rafters.  The two end queen-strut collar trusses support butt purlins and windbraces, but the common rafters were destroyed after a thatch fire in the 1960’s.  The roof structure and wall frames have the same felling dates.

The most interesting aspect of this building is the presence of 1¼ inch diameter holes drilled in all the studs, posts and braces, at 1 ft centres up to wall-plate height.  With the close studding also at 1 ft centres, a complete grid pattern is formed on all four walls.  The holes are marked out very carefully to ensure they are level, with scribe lines visible immediately above each hole.  Even the mid-rails are made sufficiently wide to allow space for mortices for the studs above and below the circular holes.  The ends of large tapered pegs remain in many of these holes, obviously driven with some force, and snapped off at a later date, leaving none to indicate how far they projected into the building, or whether they were round pegs or squared shelf brackets. Suggestions for the possible use of these pegs and therefore the building centres on some sort of drying process, with wool and teasels (for the weaving industry) being two proposals.  It appears that that the 8 inch gaps between the studs were either boarded over or left open, as the infill panels of wattle and daub are present only in the gaps the intermediate studs were removed.  The original use of the building obviously ceased on conversion to a domestic dwelling, when a large chimney stack and a first floor were inserted.  Notes by P G Bonney on behalf of the owners, Messrs Simpson and Wall, who commissioned the dating. (Miles and Worthington 1998, VA 29, list 90)

CLARENDON, Clarendon Park Estate, motor garage (SU 193 285)       

Felling dates: Spring 1653; Winter 1653/4

Principal rafters (2/3) 1463, 1631, 1653(23C); Struts (2/3) 1533(1), 1652(42¼C); Collar (0/1); Tiebeam (0/1). Site Master 1350-1653 CLRENDN6 (t= 11.1 CL_QMFG1; 8.3 CL_TOM; 7.7 CLRENDN7)

This building has been used as a garage for most of the twentieth century. It is constructed of brick under a tiled roof. It lies just to the west of the staddle barn and granary previously dated to 1765 (I. Tyers, VA 31 (2000), 127). The present date places the roof structure, which is likely to be original to the building, in the Interregnum, when the estate, taken over by parliament in 1649, passed for the first time into non-royal ownership. Dating commissioned by Dr Tom James as part of the ongoing survey of Clarendon Park. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

CLARENDON, Clarendon Park Estate, Dog Kennel Farm (SU 170 286)

(a)     Primary construction

Felling dates: Summer 1588; Winter 1588/9

(b)     Reused timbers  

Felling dates: Winter 1439/40; Winter 1532/3

(c)     Inserted attic floor          

Felling date ranges: 1612-44; 1624-56

(a) Raking struts 1564(+24CNM), 1587(24¼C); Tiebeam 1588(35C); Principal rafters 1573(h/s), 1576(h/s); Collar (0/1); Rafter (0/1). (b) Timber reused as raking strut 1439(25C); Timber reused as collar 1532(27C). (c) Attic joists 1552(?h/s), 1575, 1602(h/s), 1603(h/s), 1618(3).  Site Master 1351-1603 CLRENDN7 (t= 12.9 CL_QMFG1; 12.9 CL_TOM; 10.8 HANTS02)

A three-bay timber-framed house, clad in tile hanging, the frame partly replaced in brick. The interior has exposed framing with jowled posts and corner braces. Some wattle and daub infill surviving. Dendrochronology has demonstrated that the main building is of three bays constructed in 1589, reusing medieval timbers. In the seventeenth century a framed floor was inserted at wall-plate level to form an attic. Dating commissioned by Dr Tom James as part of the ongoing survey of Clarendon Park. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

COMPTON BASSETT, Church of St Swithun, nave roof (SU 031 716)

Felling date range: 1461-1493

Carved stub-ties 1454(h/s2), 1453(h/s), 1451(h/s2), 1449(h/s), 1440. Site Master 1346-1454 SSWITHUN (t=9.4 BDLEIAN2; 9.4 MASTERAL; 9.3 GEORGIN1)

The Church of St Swithun is a multi-phase building of Norman origins.  Some of the first phase work survives at low level in the east and west ends of the nave, whilst the north and south arcades are late twelfth and mid thirteenth century. In the fifteenth century, the high clerestorey was inserted, and the nave roof constructed.  This contains seven moulded arch-braced principal trusses; the foot of each principal rafter rests on an outer wall-plate and on a stub-tie notched over an inner plate with a moulded cornice above it.  The inner ends of these stub-ties are elaborately carved with stylised heads.  Further support is given to every other stub-tie by a moulded timber wall-post rising from corbels some distance down the clerestorey wall.

The timber is predominately fast-grown, from trees less than fifty years old.  However, the carved stub ties are made from slower-grown oak. Of the fourteen stub ties, seven (distributed throughout the roof) were certainly produced from a single tree.  Given the similarity of the growth rings in the remaining seven stub ties, it is likely that they too originated from the same tree.  The stub ties gave an averaged felling date range of 1461-1493.  For further details see Miles, D W H 2001  The Tree-Ring Dating of the Nave Roof of St Swithun’s Church, Compton Bassett, Calne, Wiltshire, Centre for Archaeol Rep, 15/2001. (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 107)

DEVIZES, Devizes Castle (TQ 292 459) Ex situ carved heads most likely from St John’s Church

Felling date range: 1408-30

Heads carved on ends of stub-tiebeams (13/15) 1407(number of sapwood rings unknown), 1395(H/S), 1392(3), 1390(H/S), 1389, 1388(1), 1371(H/S), 1368(11), 1353(+ heartwood rings NM), 1349, 1307, 1305(+21 heartwood rings NM), 1299. Site Master 1213-1407 DEVHEADX (t = 12.7 HANTS02; 11.8 SOMRST04; 10.8 GEORGIN1)

Fourteen ex situ solepieces or stub-tiebeams decorated with carved heads have been  in Devizes Castle for at least a century, with one now in the British Museum. Examination of the mortices in the timbers clearly show that they originated from a medieval principal rafter roof.  There are side mortices for a coved inner cornice plate and in the tops of the timbers for an ashlar piece.  Thus the heads would have originally been positioned at the top of a wall, at roof plate level, intended to be viewed from below.  One of the heads clearly belonged to an end truss, as it is angled to one side.  The roof to which these corbels originated would have been at least 7 bays in length. Their likely source is St John’s Church, next door to Devizes Castle, whose nave roof of 8 bays had solepieces with decorated carved heads, and was replaced in 1862-3. Dendro-provenancing gave good matches with Hampshire and Somerset material, suggesting a Wiltshire origin for the timber. Kemp, Anna F M, 2004  To Establish the Function of Carved Wooden Heads in Conjunction with Stone or Timber Buildings of the Medieval Period in Britain, unpubl BSc thesis, Bournmouth Univ. Dating commissioned by the present owner as part of a multidisciplinary study of the carvings. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 177)

ETCHILHAMPTON, Church Holding (SU 045 601)

Felling dates: Spring and Summer 1547

Tiebeam 1546(27½C); Ridge beam 1546(26¼C); Purlin (0/1). Site Master 1433-1546 CHURCHH (t = 5.9 NCADBRY2; 5.5 EASTMID; 5.4 STAY20)

Church Holding, Etchilhampton, originated as a five-bayed box-frame timber structure, with simple A-frame trusses supporting double purlins and a ridge purlin. The roof timbers are smoke blacking throughout bays 1 through 4.  The building was later extended with a fifth bay using pine in its roof structure. Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 177)

LACOCK, 2 High Street (SU 922 989)

Felling dates: Spring 1444; Spring 1445

Crucks (3/5) 1443(25¼C), 1444(27¼C), 1421(H/S)

The core of this building is a three-bay cruck-framed structure, with western service bay and cross passage, single-bay open hall (floored probably in the sixteenth century) and two-storey parlour bay. In the eighteenth century a rear wing was added. The north wall has a limestone rubble plinth with timber framing above, originally with large square panels. The trusses were closed, with smoke blackening confined to the central bay. The position of the hall window can be seen externally, and in the western bay there is the sill of a small window below the original eaves. It was built as a continuous range with 3 High Street, which is a mirror image of No. 2, apart from the parlour bay being replaced by a cross wing ( 4 High Street). This suggests organised development in the town, presumably by Lacock Abbey. Two trusses in 3 High Street are marked III and IIII, one in No. 2 is marked IIII. If they are numbered in order, each with a truss marked I at the end of a three-bay structure, two more bays to the east of No. 2 can be inferred. Dating commissioned by Martin Papworth on behalf of the National Trust.(Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2008, VA 39, list 203)

LACOCK, High Street, Porch House (SU 922 989)

Felling dates: after 1437

Collar 1428; Crucks (0/2). Site Master 1329-1444 LACOCK1 (t = 10 STRETEFM; 8.7 MALMSBURY; 8.8 HANTS02)

This is constructed of limestone rubble walling with some close studding. The large porch to the front is jettied and constructed of a timber frame on a limestone ashlar plinth with large square timber framing above. Jetty joists are ogee and hollow-chamfer moulded. The cruck truss sampled is on the end cross wall with No. 13 and is probably a fragment of an earlier structure. The central truss of this gable is unusual - a king post with curved cross braces - the same type is found in the brewery range of Lacock Abbey believed to date from c. 1540. Whether the attic floor is original is not clear, since the king-post truss is chamfered showing that it was intended to be seen. Dating commissioned by Martin Papworth on behalf of the National Trust. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2008, VA 39, list 203)

LATTON, Church of St John the Baptist, Nave roof  (SU 093 958)

Felling dates: Summer 1464 and Spring 1465

Arch brace 1464 (27¼C); Rafters 3/5 1463 (19½C); 1433 (H/S); 1423 (H/S?); Collar 0/2.  Site Master 1350-1464 LATTON (t=7.4 MASTERAL; 7.4 BRUTON3; 7.0 HANTS97)

The Church of St John the Baptist, Latton, is a parish church with 12th and 13th century origins and a chancel remodelled in 1858-6 by Butterfield.  During a programme of repairs a number of rafters had been replaced in the nave roof, and these were subjected to emergency recording and dendrochronological analysis.  One of these produced a date of 1464, and an arch-brace cored in situ dated to 1465.  The nave roof is of four bays each containing six common rafters, the principal trusses have both a lower and upper collar, the lower collar braced with moulded arch-braces down to a similarly moulded purlin below which are extended ashlar pieces notched over the face of substantial moulded inner wall-plates.  A moulded collar purlin runs under the lower collars and the intersection is masked by a carved boss.  The recording and dating was commissioned by Arnold Root for English Heritage. (Miles and Worthington 1997, VA 28, list 81)

MALMESBURY, Saxon House, 37-41 High Street (ST 932 870) 

(a)           No. 37 (S)

Felling date range: 1470-1501

(b)          No. 41 (N)        

Felling date: Spring 1487

(a) Tiebeam 1456(4); Girt 1463(h/s); Post 1448(5); Stud 1464(h/s); Collar 1470(1); Purlin 1469(1). (b) Purlins 1486(31¼C), 1485(14); Brace 1467(h/s); Rafters 1473(4), 1437; Stud 1467(2+9NM); Joist 1475(h/s); Jetty bressumer 1444; Rail 1457(h/s+7 NM); Jetty plate (0/1); Post (0/1). 

Site Master 1304-1486 MALMSBRY (t = 10.4 MASTERAL; 10.2 SSWITHUN; 9.6 SENG98)

Saxon House was originally two separate timber-framed structures. Both extended back two bays and were of three storeys, jettied on both floors. Traces of sunk quatrefoil carvings in one of the exterior studs of the right-hand half suggest that they were of high quality. On the ground floor the two have been knocked into one shop, but on the upper stories the two dividing frames survive. The dates obtained are two centuries earlier than the supposed dates of the buildings. They are the only remaining three-storey timber-framed buildings in Malmesbury. Dating commissioned by Philip Whitehead of North Wiltshire District Council. (Miles and Worthington 2003, VA 34, list 140)

NEWTON TONY, Wilbury House (SU 222 414)

(a)     Re-used 16th century timbers

Felling date ranges: 1570-1602, after 1588

Lintel or plate 1564 (H/S); Moulded door jambs (3/4) 1541; 1557 (H/S?); 1579; Rail (0/1); beams (0/3). Site Master  1449-1579  WILBURY1 (t=9.7 MASTERAL; 8.9 HANTS97; 8.6 SENG98)

(b)     Re-used 17th century timbers

Felling date ranges: 1659-1691, after 1666

Moulded ribs 1650 (H/S); 1657. Site Master  1581-1657  WILBURY2 (t=6.5 THEVYNE3; 6.3 MARLBORO; 6.1 STNSTJN4)

The notable Neo-Palladian house at Wilbury was built by William Benson in 1710.  It stands on the site of an earlier house which in the seventeenth century belonged to the Fiennes family and from which Celia Fiennes set out on her tours of England.  Nothing was known of the pre-Benson house, until a major refurbishment of Wilbury took place in 1997-99.  A full archaeological study was carried out by Dr Warwick Rodwell, and this revealed the wholesale re-use of sixteenth and seventeenth-century materials, particularily in the basement.  Ashlars and moulded stonework, paving tiles, panelling, and scores of structural timbers from the Fiennes house had been recycled.  Identifiable components included:  wall-framing, roof timbers, ceiling beam, sets of floor joists, and moulded window and door frames.  With the exception of two sets of elm floor joists, the timbers were all oak.  A dozen samples, mostly from identifiable features, were sampled, and the results confirmed the deduction on architectural grounds that there were both sixteenth and seventeenth-century building phases.  Notes compiled by Warwick Rodwell.  (Miles and Worthington 1999, VA 30, list 100)

POTTERNE, Eastwell House (ST 992 579)

(a)     Re-used timbers 

Felling date range: After 1308

Horizontal timber around chimney 1299.  Site Master 1152-1299 ewp8 (t = 8.0 GLAST; 7.1 BRDGEFM1; 6.8 WBRADLEY)

(b)     Roof repair        

Felling dates: Winter 1751/2 and Winter 1758/9

Rafters 1758(10C), 1751(33C).  Site Master 1694-1758 ewp117 (t = 6.3 SALOP95; 5.8 AISLE; 5.1 NORTH)

This substantial square-plan, three-storeyed stone house has a central stack with stone mullioned windows and string courses at eaves and mid-wall level. It is typical of those erected around the end of the sixteenth century by merchants and small landowners.  It is likely to have succeeded a medieval house on the same site, as suggested by the fourteenth-century date for a reused horizontal rail.  Apart from the addition of a seventeenth-century porch, the house remained unaltered until the early or mid-eighteenth century, when the entire roof structure was raised by 60 cm to accommodate a usable attic floor, with dormers inserted. Fifteen samples from the primary phase of the house failed to date, but the later rafters probably relate to the roof alterations.  Dating commissioned by the owner; notes provided by Warwick Rodwell. (Miles and Worthington 2003, VA 34, list 140)

Photograph copyright: Ash Mills

SALISBURY, Trinity Chapels, Salisbury Cathedral (SU 144 294)

Felling date: Spring 1222

Collars 1221(21¼C), 1198, 1178(h/s), 1152(h/s); Rafters (31/37) 1221(24¼C, 26¼C), 1208(h/s), 1205(17+5 NM), 1201(h/s+11NM), 1200(h/s), 1198(h/s2), 1197(h/s), 1195(h/s2) 1193(h/s), 1190(h/s2), 1189(1, h/s),  1188(h/s), 1185(h/s2), 1183(1), 1180(h/s), 1176, 1168, 1165, 11642, 1156, 1144, 1121, 1108, 1030; Soulaces (5/8) 1196(h/s), 1195(h/s), 1191(h/s), 1181(h/s), 1160, 1156; Solepiece 1213(h/s); Ashlars (4/6) 1199(h/s), 1193, 1179, 1138; Tiebeams (0/2); Wall plates (2/3) 1212(h/s), 1199(h/s); Unprovenanced timber re-used as purlin (0/1). Site Masters  908-1221  SARUM1 (Irish) (t=18.0 DUBLIN1; 10.4 WALES97; 9.5 BRISTOL), 1106-1213 SARUM2 (t=8 GLOUCBLF; 7.8 SOUTH; 7.3 ENGLAND)

Unlike most other cathedrals, Salisbury was built almost entirely to a single design on a green-field site.  The first foundation stones were laid in AD 1220, and the whole cathedral consecrated in AD 1258, a period of less than 40 years which accounts for its exceptional cohesiveness.  The earliest part of the cathedral to be completed was the east end encompassing three chapels: the north being the Chapel of St Peter and the Apostles, the south being the Chapel of St Stephen and the Martyrs, and in between was the Chapel of the Trinity and All Saints, also known as St Mary’s Chapel.  These were dedicated at Michaelmas 1225, five and a half years after the foundation stones were laid.

When built, the eastern chapels were covered by five parallel steeply-pitched roofs which included two smaller roofs between the three main chapel roofs.  These remained in position until the main roof over the Trinity Chapel and the small narrow roofs either side were demolished and reconstructed by Francis Price in 1736.  The surviving roofs over the northern and southern chapels are, however, virtually complete and are unquestionably the earliest roof carpentry in the county of Wiltshire.  They each encompassed twenty-one common rafter-couple trusses with collars, soulaces, and ashlar pieces.  Originally, the three tiebeams in each roof supported on inner and outer wall-plates connected by intermediate struts.  Above the inner wall-plate is a larger inner plate which is interrupted by the tiebeams into which these plates are tenoned.  The ashlars are jointed into the top face of this timber, whilst the sole-pieces are jointed into its outside face.

The two surviving roofs are constructed of the finest oak, of carving quality.  The timbers were dressed and neatly jointed, wholly with mortice and tenon joints, and the tiebeams chamfered. One significant feature noted during the investigation was a series of large scribed assembly marks on some of the trusses in both roofs.  Remarkably they appear to be early Arabic numbers, and their dating makes this the earliest use of Arabic rather than Roman numerals in England.  These marks were noted on the lower sides of the rafters, on one or two ashlar pieces, and on the tops of a few sole pieces.  Whilst it seems that the whole Arabic number-set has been found in the two roofs, they are not used consecutively, and some other non-numerical marks were found.  Therefore, it would seem they are used here primarily as individual truss identifiers rather than for the sequencing of elements during erection.

As part of the re-roofing works to the Trinity Chapels, an intensive programme of tree-ring dating was commissioned by English Heritage.  As well as confirming the documentary construction date, it was hoped to create a well-replicated tree-ring chronology for the Wiltshire area which might assist in the future dating of other buildings or phases of work within the Cathedral. Dendro-provenancing was also employed to try and determine where the timber originated from, and whether there was any evidence to support the implication that the timber was imported from Ireland as suggested by the AD 1224 Patent Rolls.   The results demonstrate clearly that a large proportion of the timber did indeed originate from the Dublin area, and the spring 1222 felling dates confirms the presumed construction dates of the Trinity Chapels.  Same-tree matches between the north and south chapels also showed that they were constructed at the same time, as would be expected.  The tree-ring dating was commissioned jointly by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral together with English Heritage. For further details see Miles, D W H,  2002  The Tree-ring Dating of the Roof Carpentry of the Eastern Chapels, North Nave Triforium, and North Porch, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, CfA Rep 94/2002. (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 107)

SALISBURY, North Triforium and North Porch (Parvis Chamber) roofs, Salisbury Cathedral (SU 144 294)   

a)       Primary phase

Felling dates: Winter 1251/2 and Winter 1254/5

Purlins 1225 (7), 1224 (H/S), 1210 (H/S); Rafters (5/6) 1251 (22C, 23C), 1220 (H/S), 1218 (H/S), 1213 (H/S), Pincipal rafters (8/10) 1254 (19C NM), 1227 (1), 1226 (H/S), 1223 (H/S), 1217 (H/S), 1200 (H/S), 1193 (1), 1182; Collars 1233 (H/S), 1222 (H/S); Posts (1/3) 1231 (H/S); Strut 1235 (1); Cross braces (1/3) 1241 (15); Soulace 1248 (28); Valley boards 1238 (14), 1224 (3), 1200, 1170; ashlar (0/1); Solepiece (0/1); Valley (0/1). Site Master 1054-1254 SARUM3x  (t=11.5 LONDON; 10.2 SOUTH; 10.1 SENG98; 9.7 MASTERAL); Under-lead boarding (Irish) (48/63) 1230 (17, H/S), 1229 (23), 1221 (25), 1219 (H/S), 1214 (4, H/S), 1213 (H/S?), 1212 (12), 12122, 1211 (H/S?), 1206 (3, H/S), 1204 (H/S), 1203, 1193, 1189 (2), 1184, 1183, 1180, 1178 (3), 1178, 1171, 1170, 1169, 1167, 1161, 1155, 1153, 1150, 1147, 1140, 1106, 1100, 1097, 1092, 1086, 1085, 1079, 1074, 1061, 1047, 10322, 1005, 1001,  963; Packer 1144. Site Master 878-1230 SARUM4 (t=18 SARUM1; 14.9 DUBLIN1; 13 ENGLAND)

b)      Re-used timber from earlier roof

Felling date: Summer/Autumn 1236

Rafter 1235 (24½C).

c)       Repair phase (Restoration)

Felling dates: Winter 1660/61, Winter 1661/2, Spring 1662, Spring 1663

Rafters 1660 (18), 1661 (9), 1654 (14), 1661 (31¼C, 24¼C2); Principal rafters 1661 (31¼C, 29¼C, 23¼C); Under-lead sarking boards (19/23) 1662 (22¼C), 1661 (25¼C, 25C, 21¼C,  18C), 1660 (24C), 1656 (18), 1655 (22), 1653 (13), 1648 (13), 1647 (12, 6), 1645 (25), 1643 (11+19-20C NM), 1642 (6), 1641 (8), 1639 (4), 1638 (4), 1636, 1635 (H/S), 1633 (H/S). Site Master 1558-1662 SARUM5 (t=11.2 SARUMBP7; 8.2 WILBURY2; 7.4 MARLBORO)

d)      Repair phase (Wren)

Felling dates: Spring 1669

Under-lead boarding 1668 (13¼C2). Site Master 1604-1668 SARUM6 (t=6.4 OXON93; 6.0 THEVYNE3; 5.7 YATTON2)

e)       Repair phase (Price)

Felling dates: Spring 1736

Under-lead sarking boards 1735 (23¼C, 22¼C2, 20¼C, 14¼C), 1731 (19), 1728 (15). Site Master 1672-1735 SARUM7 (t=8.6 MDM15c; 6.6 BAREFOOT; 6.5 STEPCOTT; 6.3 SARUMBP8)


Salisbury Cathedral was begun in 1220 and the eastern chapel roofs were the first section to be completed when consecrated on the 28th of September 1225.  These roofs were subjected to dendrochronological analysis during 1999 and have been reported in VA 31 (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 107), where the vast majority of the structural timbers were found to have been imported from Dublin.  During the year 2000, the north triforium roofs and that of the parvise chamber over the north porch were undergoing re-leading, and a second major programme of tree-ring sampling was undertaken, and dated to winter 1251/2.  Unlike the eastern chapel roofs, the structural timber here appears to have come from local sources, and one documentary reference mentions that 20 oaks from 4 forests (5 from each of Melksham, Chippenham, Doiley, and Finkley in Chute) were given on the 24th of June 1251 for making 20 copulas or rafters (Tim Tatton-Brown pers comm).   These roofs are some of the finest in the cathedral and include exceptionally interesting carpentry features including saltire bracing, crown struts with wedged tenons, and arcaded double inner wallplates with heavy stop-chamfers and quarter-rounded timber false corbels.  Scarfs to the rafters are stop-splayed with under-squinted and sallied abutments with face pegs and nails.  The juncture of the parvise roof with the north aisle is highly developed with the jack-rafters being stepped with tenons up the valley-rafters (Hewett, C A, 1985 English Cathedral and Monastic Carpentry, Phillimore, Chichester, p 130).  These jack-rafters are sequentially numbered in Arabic numerals, the earliest example of such assembly marks to be found and dated anywhere in British carpentry, although some non-sequential Arabic numbers were noted in the eastern chapel roofs of Salisbury 25 years earlier. 

One rafter from the north porch roof was partly encased in the stone cross-wall separating the parvis chamber from the north triforium.  This dated from 1236 and had clear evidence for re-use, presumably it either was a reject from another part of the cathedral, or from some sort of temporary works dismantled as the cathedral neared completion.

Of further interest was the discovery of a substantial amount of under-lead sarking boards, much of was coeval with the primary construction date of 1251/2 and still in situ after 750 years.  These boards averaged 4” in width by ½” to ¾” in thickness, and the dendrochronology has shown that these have been imported from Ireland.  These boards were riven from very slow-grown old-growth trees from virgin woodland, some of the trees being about 400 years old when felled.

Dates of both boards and rafters as the trusses abutting the flying buttresses produced felling dates of winter 1660/61 though spring 1663. These dates coincide very nicely with the repair of the Cathedral immediately after the Restoration, and shows that the whole of the north nave triforium both sides of the porch were heavily repaired at this time and presumably re-leaded.  Some boards from west side of the parvis chamber roof were found to have been felled during the spring of 1669, and would appear to relate to the repairs proposed by Dr Christopher Wren in a report dated 31st August 1668, and which were said to have been started during the summer of the following year.  Other boards from the west valley area were found to have been felled during the spring of 1736 and obviously relate to the prolonged programme of repairs by Francis Price beginning in 1734.

The dendrochronology was commissioned by English Heritage as part of their ongoing commitment to the repair and conservation of the cathedral, and acknowledgements are given to both Cliff Litton of the Nottingham University Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory for running the Irish samples through the Litton-Zainodin grouping procedure, and to Mike Baillie and David Brown of the Belfast Dendrochronology Laboratory for making available a wide selection of medieval Irish chronologies. For further details see Miles, D W H,  2002  The Tree-ring Dating of the Roof Carpentry of the Eastern Chapels, North Nave Triforium, and North Porch, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, CfA Rep 94/2002. (Miles and Worthington 2001, VA 32, list 116)

SALISBURY, The Cathedral (SU 144 294)

(a)           West front doors

Felling date range: After 1222

Boards 1015+11 NM, 1040, 1106+102 NM, 1160+30 NM, 1169, 1171, 1178, 1180, 1186+6 NM. Site Master 928-1186 SARUM8 (t = 30.9 SARUM1+4; 20.5 EARLYAD; 19.9 DUBLIN1; 18.2 NEWROSS)

(b)          Door from Nave to Parvis Chamber over North Porch               

Felling date ranges: 1219-51; 1229-61

Boards (2/3) 1210, 1168; Hanging style 1210(h/s); Lattice brace 1220(h/s). Site Masters 1024-1168 scnd13 (t = 10.6 SARUM1+4; 9.4 EARLYAD; 9.9 NEWROSS; 8.9 DUBLIN1), 1153-1220 scnd124 (t = 6.4 CHIVES; 6.3 SARUM3x; 6.3 OXON93)

(c)           Door from Parvis Chamber to North Nave Triforium      

Felling date ranges: 1220-52 to 1242-74

Planks 1229(h/s), 1234(h/s); Stile 1192; noggins 1192, 1214(3), 1233(5); Rails 1227(h/s), 1233(h/s), 1176.  Site Master 1177-1234 SARUM9 (t = 6.4 BRADFORD; 5.8 BRDGEFM1; 5.6 SARUM3x)

Continuing the dating programme at Salisbury, the original doors to the nave have now been studied. The pair of doors at west end of the nave measure 12ft, 4in high by 6ft, 5in wide. They consist of between six and seven wide, square-edged, boards of the finest quality quartered oak (1 in thick, edge-dowelled), mounted on a frame of 15 diagonal ledges in each direction. The doors are hung by three large strap hinges sandwiched between the crossed ledges and, unusually, riveted to the front boards before the boards were fixed to the rear ledges.  The nailing pattern of the boards to the ledges are through alternate crossings in a vertical alignment.  The nails are riveted on the back of the ledges with diamond roves (not quite as shown in Hewett 1985, 167). Door (b) is of similar construction to the west doors, with two strap hinges sandwiched between the front boards and a light diagonal lattice framework on the back. Door (c) is much heavier than the other doors, being constructed of three heavy planks measuring 2in thick nailed to five horizontal ledges, the joints between the planks being covered with noggins nailed between the ledges.  Here the hinges are fixed to the outside of the planks, and are nailed through planks and noggins alike. The doorway retains its original draw-bar with its original socket lining made up of thin fine-grained oak boards, set within the stone wall dividing the north triforium from the Parvis Chamber. The west doors and one board from door (b) are of Irish oak (sapwood range of 14-50 years (95% confidence); Baillie 1995), the sequence matching showing that timber imported for the Cathedral came from the same woodland source for almost 30 years. Miles, D H, 2002  The Tree-Ring Dating of the Thirteenth-Century Nave Doors at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, Centre for Archaeol Rep, 101/02. (Miles and Worthington 2003, VA 34, list 140)

SALISBURY, Cathedral (SU 144 294), Central tower and spire

(a)     Clock chamber floor at tower base (reset)          

Felling dates: Spring 1242; Summer 1242

(b)     Boards – underside of tower base floor              

Felling date range: 1358-74

(c)     Bell chamber – timber support tower      

Felling date range: 1687-1719

(d)     Spire – scaffold frame    

Felling date range: 1344-76

(a) Joists 1205(1), 1211(h/s), 1217(h/s), 1218(h/s), 1221(h/s), 1228(h/s), 1225+16½C NM, 1241(14¼C); Beams 1181(h/s), 1193(h/s); Braces (4/5) 1192(h/s), 1195(h/s), 1213(h/s), 1217(h/s); Hanger 1216(h/s); Spur (0/1). (b) Boards (16/18) 1330, 1345, 1345(1), 1346, 1347(2), 1348, 1349, 1350(h/s, 1), 1351(1), 1352(1, 2, 3), 1354, 1355(h/s), 1356(h/s). (c) Primary phase timbers reused as braces (2/3) 1131(?h/s), 1222(6); Reused or stockpiled timbers used as braces 1648(h/s), 1668(20C); Braces (4/6) 1678(1), 1684(5); Post (0/1), Lower rails (0/3). (d) Primary phase collars reused as raking struts (1/2) 1201(h/s); Braces 1333(h/s2), 1337(h/s), 1338(h/s); Tiebeam (0/1); Posts (0/4). Site Masters (a) 1067-1241 SARUM14 (t = 13.4 SARUM3X; 13.3 SOUTH; 12.3 HANTS02); (b) 1117-1354 SARUM15 (t = 11.0 BALTIC1; 8.2 WNCHSTR1; 7.2 REF4); (c) 1556-1684 SARUM17 (t= 6.8 SARUM5; 6.6 HANTS02; 6.3 NEWDIG2); (d) 1229-1338 SARUM16 (t = 6.3 NCADBRY1; 5.9 GLAST; 5.9 WIMBORNE).

Thirty-three timbers were sampled from the tower and spire during 1990 by Robert Howard and Gavin Simpson of the Nottingham University Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory. A further thirty-two timbers were sampled in 2003 and 2004, as part of the continuing English Heritage funded programme of dating, and all the data has been reassessed. The new work supersedes VA 22 (1991), List 39 no 13a, and VA 23 (1992), List 44, no 20. D. H. Miles, R. E. Howard, and W. G. Simpson, ‘The tree-ring dating of the tower and spire at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire’, CfA report, 44/2004.

Four major elements were sampled and dated. (a) reset floor structure at the base of the clock chamber which is thought originally to have been near the top of the tower and lowered to its present position when the tower was heightened in the first quarter of the fourteenth century. It consists of eight 39ft (12m) long common joists measuring 11in by 12in (275mm x 300mm) spanning north-south and bearing on the ledge created by the arcade walkway. They are also supported by two east-west bridging beams spanning 32ft (9.75m) between the inner faces of the walls. The joists are given additional support by brackets and bearers (saddles or bolsters). Each bearer has a carpenter’s assembly mark, I to XVI, anti-clockwise from the south-west corner. The floor was later hidden by a ceiling of cleft oak Baltic boards with V-tongue and groove joints of medieval type, nailed to the joists and brackets. This was removed (probably when the lierne vault was inserted) by sawing out the boards, leaving the stub-ends. Within the range given, the felling date for the boards (b) was probably in the mid-1360s (judged from the period of common overlap between the ranges indicated by the individual heartwood/sapwood boundaries), suggesting that they were added after the 1362 storm (below) to reduce the risk of falling debris.

A timber tower (c) has its corner posts tenoned into the bridging joists of this floor. It was erected to underpin the timbers from which the scaffold in the spire rises. It consists of just four corner posts and two levels of rails, with diagonal braces of reused timber across each side of the second stage. Carpenters’ marks and empty mortices suggest that the braces were collar beams from a large roof (perhaps the nave) of the same type as the existing roof in the north-east transept (felling date range 1225-57). Each corner post is supported by two braces at its base tenoned into the ends of the joists in each of the tower windows. Two braces from the same tree were felled in winter 1668/9 and must be reused, as the timbers dating to 1689-1719 indicate the date of the structure. One timber with an apparent heartwood-sapwood boundary at 1121 is believed to be an example of the rare phenomenon of a sapwood inclusion.

The scaffold (d) has nine stages; the three lowest comprise a simple timber tower with a central mast. Its four corner posts and mast are tenoned into the tops of the two cross beams which support it below floor level. For this reason the scaffold is twisted round so that its corners are at the cardinal points. It is constructed of oak, much of it boxed-heart, selected from fast grown, immature trees. The higher stages have groups of timbers radiating from the central mast and supported on struts. The dating to 1344-76 is contrary to current theories on the development of the tower and spire in which the scaffold is a primary feature. Architectural detailing confirms that the tower and stone spire were constructed in the first quarter of the fourteenth century, but detailed structural analysis and documents support the evidence that the scaffold was inserted within the spire half a century later. This was probably to repair damage sustained in a great storm of 1362, providing tensile restraint for the capstone, and giving permanent internal access to the top of the spire. An early reused timber has a felling date range of 1210-42. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

SALISBURY, Cathedral (SU 144 294), Nave roof

(a1)   Primary Phase re-used rafters (east end) 

Felling dates: Summer 1243 and Summer 1244

(a2)   Primary Phase re-used rafters (west end)

Felling date: Spring 1251

(b)     Second Phase  - East end reconstruction

Felling dates: Winter 1533/4, Winter 1541/2, and Spring 1542

(c)     Third Phase – Centre bays reconstruction                       

Felling dates: Winter 1697/8 to Spring 1704

(d)     Fourth Phase – West end reconstruction 

Felling dates: Winter 1710/11 to Spring 1720

(a1) Reused rafters (2/4) 1242(17½C), 1243(22½C); Timbers reused as ashlars (5/8) 1222(H/S), 1218(H/S), 1210(H/S), 1197, 1159.  (a2) Reused rafters (8/11) 1250(35¼C), 1236(H/S), 1235(H/S), 1206, 1205, 1168, 1167, 1161; Timbers reused as ashlars (1/4) 1215(H/S). (b) Rafters (1/2) 1541(20¼C); Principal rafters 1541(27C), 1508(H/S); Tiebeams 1533(19C), 1530(H/S), 1529(15), 1519(H/S); Collars 1514(H/S), 1512(H/S); Raking struts (1/2) 1509(H/S). (c) Raking struts (4/5) 1703(27C), 1702(28), 1701(28¼C), 1675(H/S); Queen struts (2/4) 1703(25C, 29C); Purlins (3/4) 1701(36C), 1681(H/S), 1668(H/S); Inner wall plates 1703(39¼C), 1672; Principal rafter 1657; Tiebeams 1698(21), 1697(20C). (d) Raking struts 1719(31C, 26C, 19¼C), 1718(26½C3), 1716(17); Queen struts (3/5) 1719(17C), 1718(18½C), 1697(H/S+8 NM), 1696(H/S); Principal rafters 1713(16C2); Purlins 1719(29C, 20C), 1718(15½C), 1704(H/S), 1690(2+28C NM); Tiebeam (4/5) 1715(18?C), 1714(22¼C), 1710(16C), 1705(15). Site Masters  (a) 1057-1250 SARUM10 (t = 13.0 GLOUBLF; 12.3 SARUM3X; 12.0 MASTERAL); (b) 1409-1541 SARUM11 (t = 12.3 HANTS02; 12.3 SOUTH; 10.6 SENG98); (c) 1556-1703 SARUM12 (t = 10.2 HANTS02; 10.1 MASTERAL; 8.7 SENG98); (d) 1557-1719 SARUM13 (t = 9.2 HANTS02; 9.0 MASTERAL; 8.4 SARUM7).

The nave roof was apparently constructed in two phases, the eastern end shortly after 1244 represented by reused rafters with Roman assembly marks, the western part in or shortly after 1251 with timbers using Arabic assembly marks.  As only three timbers produced precise felling dates, the construction periods suggested might have been a few years later due to timber stockpiling.  The sequence of dates proceeding westwards show that the eastern end of the nave roof would have been constructed immediately after the central crossing, which has produced a precise felling date of 1242. Correlation with the 1251/2 felling date of the junction of the north nave triforium roof and the north porch suggests that the nave roof was completed first, with the triforium roofs finished immediately afterwards.

The nave roof was reconstructed over a period of nearly two centuries, with most of the original rafters retained, supported by a series of trusses with purlins.  The eastern third of the nave roof was rebuilt in 1542 or shortly thereafter. The middle third of the roof was reconstructed in 1704 or shortly thereafter and the western third in 1720 or within a year of this date.

In all three major phases of reconstruction, clear evidence of stockpiling, primarily of tiebeams, was noted, with the earliest felling dates between five and eight years before the latest ones.  Given that these timbers would have been at least 42 feet in length, obtaining them was clearly difficult, and presumably the Cathedral purchased them, or brought them in from their own woodlands, as and when they became available.  It is significant that all of the tiebeams which produced precise felling dates had been stockpiled.  Five tiebeams with incomplete sapwood also dated – that their sapwood was in poor condition suggests that these too may have been stockpiled. The matches with the reference chronologies show that the timber was grown relatively locally to Salisbury, rather than imported, unlike the eastern chapel roofs and the north nave triforium.  D W H Miles, ‘The Tree-Ring Dating of the Nave Roof at Salisbury Cathedral’, report 58/2005. Dating commissioned by English Heritage. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

SALISBURY, The former Bishop’s Palace (Salisbury Cathedral School) (SU 144 294)

a)       Drawing Room and West Wing Roofs: Re-used fourteenth century timbers

Felling date: Winter 1315/16

Timbers re-used as rafters in Drawing Room roof (5/8) 1303(18), 1296(h/s), 1287, 1282(h/s), 1234; Timbers re-used as soulaces in West Wing roof (10/11) 1315(28C), 1301(h/s), 1293(h/s2), 1291(h/s), 1290, 1290(h/s), 1287(h/s), 1273, 1254. Site Masters  1160-1301  SARUMBP1 (t=7.5 WALES97; 7.0 THRONE; 6.9 WINCATH2), 1165-1315 SARUMBP2 (t=7.2 SOUTH; 6.9 MASTERAL; 6.9 WHERWELL)

b)      Chapel Roof: Re-used fifteenth century Baltic ceiling panels

Felling date range: 1407-1423

Panels 1405, 1400, 1398(h/s), 1389, 1388. Site Master  1088-1400 SARUMBP3 (t=5.8 MAGDALN2; 5.6 REF4; 5.4 STHELEN2)

c)       Drawing Room and West Wing Roofs: Re-used fifteenth century timbers

Felling date ranges: 1432-1464 and 1460-1492

Moulded timber re-used as outer wall plate Drawing Room roof 1451(h/s); Re-used inner wall plate West Wing roof 1429(6).  Site Masters:  1361-1451 bps26 (t=6.7 GEORGIN2; 6.7 MASTERAL; 6.7 SHAPWCK1), 1319-1429 (6) bps27 (t=5.8 SARUMBP4; 5.5 YORKS1; 5.4 CRESING2)

d)      West Wing Roof: Re-used sixteenth century rafters from scissors-braced roof

Felling dates: Spring 1520 and Spring 1521

Rafters 1520(31¼C), 1519(33¼C). Site Master: 1346-1520 SARUMBP4 (t=7.2 SHAPWCK1; 7.0 KNGSMBRN; 6.6 MC19)

e)       Chapel Roof: sixteenth century roof frame

Felling date:  Summer/autumn 1541

Tiebeams 1540(22½C), 1514(h/s); Lead sarking boards (1/2) 1494; Joists (0/3). Site Master: 1387-1540 SARUMBP5 (t=9.5 HANTS97; 9.4 KNGSMBRN; 9.3 ROMSEY)

f)       Drawing Room Roof: Re-used sixteenth century timbers

Felling date: Spring 1570

Timber re-used as rafter 1569(24¼C); Timber re-used as purlin 1568(27).  Site Master  1450-1569 SARUMBP6 (t=7.3 VANN; 7.0 HANTS97; 6.8 EXTON)

g)       Drawing Room Roof: Re-used seventeenth century timbers

Felling dates: Winter 1661/2 and Summer/autumn 1662

Timbers re-used as purlins 1661(28C, 25½C). Site Master  1562-1661  SARUMBP7 (t=8.5 THEVYNE3; 8.3 MASTERAL; 8.1 OXON93)

h)       Drawing Room Roof: eighteenth century structure

Felling dates: Winter 1735/6 and Spring 1736

Purlins (3/4) 1734(10), 1731(12), 1729(6); Inner wall plate 1735(14C); Principal rafters 1735(23C, 36¼C); Queen strut 1721(6); King post (0/1). Site Master  1616-1735  SARUMBP8 (t=7.2 MASTERAL; 6.2 MC19; 6.1 OXON93)

The former Bishop’s Palace stands to the south-east of the Cathedral and was built by Bishop Poore at the same time as the Trinity Chapels.  Documentary references record grants of timber for the hall and chamber in 1221, and the Palace was most likely completed by September 1225 when the Bishop entertained various Bishops and nobles for a week when dedicating the eastern chapels of the Cathedral.  The architectural history of the Palace is extremely complex and is best summarised by RCHME (1993),  Salisbury: The Houses of the Close (HMSO, London). The only surviving primary fabric is the first-floored solar over a vaulted undercroft, and a smaller chamber in a western wing.  Later medieval extensions include a chapel over a parlour to the north-east of the solar, and a three-storeyed porch tower to the now-lost hall.  It was badly damaged during the Civil War. The building became the Cathedral School in 1947.

Following the recent restoration work to the Chapel, and in advance of proposed re-roofing works to the Solar (since converted to the Bishop’s Drawing Room) and west wing, a programme of recording and dating works were drawn up.  The Drawing Room roof had been reconstructed in 1736 by Francis Price, but using much second-hand material, and the west wing roof had also been reconstructed, re-using what appeared to be scissors-braced rafter-couples from the original roof.  Initial dendrochronology was used to check if these were thirteenth-century, but surprisingly, they were found to date from 1521.  The results of further dating were equally surprising, apart from the new Price roof of the Drawing Room.  The dating was commissioned jointly by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral and English Heritage. For further details see Miles (forthcoming) AML Report.

The earliest timbers are those re-used as soulaces in the west wing roof, and others re-used as common rafters in the Drawing Room roof.  These were examined particularly on account of their assembly marks, which were large gouged Roman and more importantly Arabic numbers.  They produced a felling date of 1315/16, significant in that three other sets of fourteenth-century Arabic numbers have been dated and all fall within a five year date range: Church Farm barn, Great Hazeley, Oxon 1313 (VA 26, list 64 Part II), Priory of St John, Wells 1314/15, and the King’s Head Wells 1318/19 (VA 29, list 93).  Arabic assembly marks do not re-appear in Britain until 300 years later.  Could these four buildings all be linked through one master carpenter with a predilection for Arabic numerals?

Four other groups of re-used timbers have been identified in the Drawing Room and west wing roofs.  Whilst no documents suggest the origin of the fourteenth-century timbers or the 1521 scissors-braced roof, they are more informative for the others.  Two moulded wall plates, one dating to 1432-1464 from the west wing roof and the other dating from 1460-1492 from the Drawing Room roof may relate to the extensive works by Bishop Beauchamp who is thought to have re-built the hall sometime between 1457 and 1466 (Ibid. p. 54).  Jointed roof timbers dating to 1570 re-used as rafters and purlins in the Drawing Room roof may relate to work by Bishop Jewel who extended the Palace grounds in 1568 (Ibid. pp. 54-5). Following the Civil War damage, Bishop Henchman (1660-63) carried out repairs, creating a chapel and other rooms. Purlins dating to 1662, re-used as purlins in the Price roof of 1736, must have originated from Henchman’s repairs.

The best documented work is the re-roofing of the Drawing Room by Francis Price, the Cathedral clerk of Works, for Bishop Sherlock in 1737.  Price provided a section drawing in November 1736, writing: ‘The lower sketch is the truss proposed for my Lords Dining Room 27 feet extent 13 ft 6 in high (as you will more clearly see by the draughts enclosed to my Lord).’  The truss is exceptional in that the collar truss roof is supported by its own boot-straps; the principal rafters are tenoned into the soulaces which also serve as solepieces.  It is interesting that although this roof was still in the proposal stage in November 1736, timbers had already been felled in winter 1735/6 and spring 1736.

The most interesting re-used timbers make up the 1521 scissors-braced roof over the west wing.  Reconstructing the trusses on paper from the surviving joints shows that the roof would have spanned 27 to 30 feet.  The assembly marks on the 32 surviving rafters range from 3 to 49, meaning that there were at least 49 rafter-couples when originally constructed.  Thus, the roof would have covered an area of 27-30 feet wide by at least 70 feet long.  One possibility is that they came from an earlier roof over the Drawing Room, which internally measures just over 24 feet wide by 52 feet long.  However, as the 5” thick rafter-couples would have to been spaced just 8” apart to fit in the minimum 49 rafter-couples, this appears unlikely.  Of course it is also possible that the timbers came from another building. perhaps within the close.

The Chapel roof, thought to date from the fifteenth century, was also sampled.  This roof is flat-pitched with moulded tiebeams demarcating the four bays, each of which is divided by subsidiary rafters and purlins into four panels either side of the ridge.  It originally had a lead roof carried on sarking boards, and the rafters were originally exposed below as evidenced by yellow-ochre paint on the sides of the rafters and the undersides of the boards.  The ceiling reached its present appearance after Baltic V-edged panels were applied to the underside of the rafters and small carved bosses were attached to the corners and centres of each panel.  With a mid-fifteenth-century construction date expected for the primary roof structure, the tree-ring dates of 1541 found for two of the principal moulded tiebeams and a sarking board are surprisingly late. Confusingly, the Baltic oak panels which logically must have been applied to the ceiling sometime after 1541 have given a date range of 1407-1423.  Clearly these oak panels have been re-used. (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 107)

SHALBOURNE, West Court Farm (SU 332 628)

Felling dates: Spring 1316, Winter 1319/20, and Spring 1319

Rafters 1319(15C, 34C, 37C), 1302(15+15C NM); Arcade plate 1318(47¼C); Arch-brace 1318(21¼C); Arcade post 1315(19¼C). Site Master 1177-1319 WSTCRTFM (t = 7.4 HANTS02; 7.2 MANORCOT; 7.1 WINDSOR).

This a high-status aisled hall with base cruck and crown-post roof.  The hall was originally of two bays with cross-wings at each end, but only one and a half bays of the hall survive reasonably intact. The roof at Westcourt Farm is important as being one of a group of high-quality timber-framed roofs employing Arabic assembly marks, all of similar date: tithe barn at Church Farm, Great Haseley, Oxon (1313); Priory of St John, Wells, Somerset (1314/15); Bishop’s Palace, Salisbury, Wilts (1315/16); and the King’s Head Inn, Wells, Somerset (1318/19). These buildings all use both Arabic assembly marks and the conventional Roman numbering system, yet interestingly, all of the roofs are of different design.  This suggests that a highly-educated master carpenter traveled from site to site within the region overseeing the construction of this group of buildings.  The design of the roofs were probably influenced partly by the client and the local vernacular building traditions, yet the master carpenter exerted his influence through the carpentry and manner of marking and labeling.  Dating part-funded by the owner. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

WILSFORD, No. 18 (SU 100 571)

Felling dates: Winter 1308/9, Summer 1309

Collar 1308(18C); Soulace brace 1308(19½C); Arch brace 1308(18½C); Crucks (0/2). Site Master 1182-1308 WILSFORD (t = 8.6 PILGRIMS; 8.4 WINCATH2; 8.2 BAYLLOLS)

This four-bay cruck house still retains four of its five cruck trusses dating from 1309, all of which have different apex types. The open truss is a two-tier cruck with the lower crucks clasping the upper ones similar to the ones at the Bradford-on-Avon tithe barn, apex type K (Alcock, 1981). This originally had a circular boss under the arch-braced collar. The other two internal crucks have types C and F1 apexes and the west end has a half-hipped (type V) cruck with straight almost square-sectioned soulaces. The ridge is jointed with a scissors scarf. Apart from the crucks, the rest of the structure is elm. The building was clearly of high status, and might have been the capital messuage of the sub-manor of Wilsford Dauntsey. Dating commissioned by the owner, Mr Tim Maltin and arranged by Pam Slocombe, who also provided notes on the building. (Miles and Worthington 2002, VA 33, list 126)

WINSLEY, Burghope Manor (ST 797 609)

Felling date: Summer 1317

Crucks 1316(22½C), 1282; Arch-brace 1304(H/S), 1272. Site Master 1191-1316 BURGHOPE (t = 9.5 MASTERAL; 9.1 WNTERBRN; 8.9 MUCHNEY)

The dated arch-braced cruck truss is the central open truss of a 2-bay hall.  Its apex with a wishbone-shaped yoke has no known parallels in the county. Original features include a diagonally-set ridge piece, some smoke-blackened common rafters, a purlin scarfed with a simple splay and a very slightly curved windbrace.  Some small boards near the apex may be the remnant of a smoke louvre.  The rest of the house is later, comprising stone walls, an ogee-headed entrance porch and an inserted fireplace of late 15th century date and ceilings and windows of c.1600 The quality of the house and a black letter Protestant inscription over the hall fireplace suggest the house may have been built as the Shaftesbury Abbey parsonage of the Winsley chapelry; the present name is recent. Description by Pam Slocombe and dating commissioned by the Wiltshire Buildings Record. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 177)