Humble Homes: Vernacular architecture in different parts of England
by Richard Churchley
Thursday 26th February 2015
Driving between Harvington and Hillers Farm Shop on Dunnington Heath, I have frequently noticed a sign saying “Mudwalls Farm”. A picture of the farmhouse was one of the illustrations used in what was a lavishly illustrated talk by Richard Churchley at the Society’s February meeting. Whether or not Mudwalls farmhouse is actually made of mud remains a mystery; but there is no denying that mud has been used as a building material in both Worcestershire and Warwickshire, the resulting structures being stronger than if they had been built of brick.
Using illustrations mainly from these two counties, Dr Churchley showed how availability of local materials determined the vernacular style of architecture, at least in the homes of lesser folk. Did you know, for example, that the closer the timbers in a half-timbered dwelling, the wealthier the occupants? This is because timber is expensive and the wattle and daub infill is cheaper – so wealth is displayed in the amount of wood in a structure. It was with interesting snippets like these that Dr Churchley held the attention of a fascinated audience.