framing as a means of building construction dates from at least the
12th century and continued until the 18th. The
frames of the building including internal partition frames and
complete with appropriate door and window openings, were constructed
flat on the ground often some distance from the building site using
mortice and tenon, and cross and butt joints. They were then erected
on site and jointed together. A careful examination of the surviving
buildings will often reveal the carpenters marks showing which
pieces go together.
the side frames were erected and the roof trusses in place , the
spaces between the wall timbers were filled, most commonly with
wattle and daub; the wattles, usually willow, were woven together
basket-like and then daubed with a mixture of clay, animal dung and
straw. Later, as bricks became cheaper and more easily available
they were often used to fill the spaces. The roof would be thatched
or covered with wooden shingles or sometimes with thin pieces of
stone; later, tiles or slates would replace these. The main timbers
were meant to be seen and elaborate designs often appeared. The
closer the studding, the more timber required and the better the
building quality and the more expensive.
peak of timber-framing came during the 15th to 17th
centuries but gradualy, as bricks became more available,
timber-framing was seen as ‘old fashioned’ and shunned by the
well-to-do. Many timber-framed buildings were faced in brick to
them look ‘modern’. Many were also clad with weather-boarding or
tiles to make them more weather proof.
has nearly twenty timber-framed buildings surviving from the period
1390 to 1600 AD and another fifteen dating from 1600 to the early
1700s, although the more recent ones in general are less well
constructed. Many of the buildings were sub-divided in the 18th
and 19th centuries to cope with an expanding population
and in some cases because of later alterations it is difficult to
appreciate at first sight that they were originally one building or,
indeed that they are timber-framed.
has been re-introduced in recent years as a fast method of
construction with an internal timber frame usually surrounded by an
outer brick skin. However, the method of construction of the frame
is much simpler, with metal plates and nails replacing the carefully
made joints of the medieval buildings and treated soft woods
replacing the oak of old.
the Weald and
Left: Timber-framed building at Singleton re-constructed in original form
A good, readable and comprehensive book on the subject is ‘Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings’ by Richard Harris, see also 'Wattle and daub' by Paula Sunshine both published by Shire Publications Ltd.