Discoveries from the Deverills Part 2- The houses that wool wealth built

on Tuesday, 11 August 2015. Posted in Architecture

In my last blog I set the economic scene in the Deverill Valley which I believe gave rise to the great prosperity, partly through the woollen industry, that became evident in the rich building heritage of that area.

An obvious later example of wool wealth in Warminster can be seen in the grand houses that clothiers such as John Wansey built for themselves. The above image is Byne House dated to 1755 photographed in 2007 just after a fire, though there is very little that I looked at in the Deverills that represents the Georgian period. Most of our discoveries came from the beginning of the early modern period when Warminster and the Deverills had rich agricultural resources that were exploited by the lords of the manor such as Glastonbury Abbey, who owned Longbridge and Monkton Deverill in the Medieval period.

Before we look at individual buildings, what does a house of c1500 look like?

We know that from looking at local buildings that have been dated with dendrochronology (that is tree-ring dating), that in the Deverills, Warminster, Wiltshire and the wider south-west region these were most likely to be of timber. Timber was still reasonably plentiful, so the local greensand stone was not generally used to its full extent in most ordinary houses except in the footings of timber-framed buildings. Timber-framing was raised up onto a stone plinth to help protect it from damp. The framing itself consisted of sawn posts which stood on the plinth and supported the ends of the roof trusses. In between the posts were panels infilled with wattle and daub, and curved braces which kept the posts rigid and apart.

This is one obvious example that can be seen from the road in Crockerton. It is a type of timber-framing called ‘close studding’ which is fairly self-explanatory. You can see peg-holes in the horizontal rail which show where the studs have been removed, and replaced with rubblestone. You will find some timber-framed houses in the Deverills, but some others don’t look like this, some of them have been clad or partly replaced in stone, such as Timber Cottage has been.

Dorothy Treasure, Principal Buildings Historian, Wiltshire Building Record


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