Fig. 193 Little Clacton - Early fifteenth century
Fig. 194. Offton-Cum-Little-Bricett - Mid-fifteenth century.
Fig. 195. Raydon St. Mary. - Mid-fifteenth century.
Fig. 196. Great Blakenham - Late fifteenth century.
Fig. 197. Gainsburgh Hall, Lincoln. The Great Hall - Late fifteenth century.
Late fifteenth century.
Fig. 199. Carved Ceiling Beams From A House In Water Street, Lavenham.
In the following pages, some examples of rich half-timber houses, and porches - sacred and secular - are shown. They have been chosen from hundreds of examples, each noteworthy in its way, but space considerations have forbidden more than a brief description of this fascinating branch of the woodworker's craft. Those who have read, and studied, the chapter on " Timber Roofs " will be prepared for much that is to follow in this one. The timber roof is really the upper story of a timber house, especially when it has collars without tie-beams. The vertical timbers from the eaves-level downwards, with their horizontal plates, act as buttresses to resist the outward thrust of a pitched roof, a task which, in the case of a church, is undertaken by walls of massive stone or jointed brick. The framed house is reinforced by its floor-beams and joists at the floor-levels, and is a complete unit before any filling of the cavities between the timbers is even commenced. That brick nogging stiffens the vertical studs is unquestionable, but the timber house must be of ample strength and stability without such aid.
Fig. 200. Carved Ceiling Beams From Paycockes, Coggeshall, Essex. - Late fifteenth century. Noel Buxton, Esq.
The examples shown, in this chapter, have been especially chosen for their richness. They are, mainly, from two counties, Suffolk and Essex. They are intended to give merely an outline of a vast subject. Timber houses vary not only at distinct periods, but also in different localities. Local tree-growth had a good deal to do with their development in particular directions. A large book could be written, easily, on the subject of the English timber house, and then the available field would be, by no means, exhausted. The houses shown in the succeeding pages are exceptional, but they are illustrated here with a set purpose, to illustrate the decorative limits to which the timber house attained.
Fig. 201. Enlarged Detail Of Fig. 200.
With the timber house, as necessary adjuncts, examples of exterior porches, doors, bay windows, and interior decorated beam-ceilings are given. Lengthy descriptions are unnecessary; the illustrations are, for the most part, self-explanatory. It must be remembered, also, that the attempt is made here, in a single chapter, to outline, in a sketchy manner, a subject which demands a far greater space than is possible in this book, for its proper elucidation. There is, therefore, no attempt at order, chronologically or otherwise; the illustrations are merely intended to show the decorative use, in building, to which oak was put in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in England.
Fig. 178 is the fine Woolhall at Lavenham, in Suffolk, which was somewhat rigorously restored in 1913. The barge-boards are missing, and the projecting bay windows on the first floor have been cut off. Lavenham has been somewhat unfortunate in the zeal of its restorers. In spite of this, however, Lavenham Woolhall remains as some indication of the half-timber building in East Anglia of the mid-fifteenth century.
Fig. 202. Paycockes, Coggeshall, Essex. Ceiling Beams. - Ceiling, 18 ft. wide by 19 ft. deep. Beam, 14 1/2 ins. by 11 ins. Joists, 7 ins. wide by 5 ins. deep. - Noel Buxton, Esq.
The house known as Paycockes, at Coggeshall in Essex, Fig. 179, is a much better example of judicious restoration. Originally, a fine specimen of a wealthy weaver's house of the late fifteenth century, it had been transformed into cottages, and allowed to become derelict. It was restored, a few years ago, and a considerable amount of richly carved oak was discovered hidden behind plaster. Further illustrations of the elaborate beamed ceilings in this house will be given later on in this chapter.