Sunday, February 10, 2013
One of my readers asked me, in response to the previous post about a building in Buckinghamshire, whether I had any thoughts on regional variations in timber-framed buildings. Just a few, so I thought I'd do a group of posts about such structures in different parts of England.
One of the most rewarding places to look at this type of building is in the west Midlands and the counties that mark England's border with Wales. In this area Shropshire and Cheshire in particular stand out: one of the features of the local architecture here is a tendency towards highly ornate timberwork in which the frame is made up of many small square sections, themselves embellished with additional woodwork in the form of a multitude of diagonal braces, quatrefoils, small arches and the like. Carved bargeboards, brackets, and ornamental heads add to the effect on the most elaborate buildings. A town in which all these details can be seen is Ludlow, and perhaps the most magnificent timber-framed building in Ludlow is The Feathers, built in 1619 as a house for a Welsh lawyer, Rees Jones, and as dazzling a display of conspicuous wealth as you'll see on an English street. The building became an inn in about 1670.
This is high-status architecture. There are many buildings in this region with much plainer woodwork. But for rich merchants, lawyers, and landowners who wanted houses that stand out on a crowded street, Shropshire's carpenters had the skill to fit the bill.
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I've posted before about Shropshire's dazzling timberwork here and here.