Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dorchester, Oxfordshire


Much ado about nogging

England’s ‘black and white’ houses, their dark timber frames infilled with panels of pale wattle and daub, are well known. But there are also lots of timber-framed buildings in which the gaps between the timbers are filled with bricks, a technique known as nogging. Nogging can be very attractive, especially when the bricks are laid in a pattern such as basket-weave or, as here in Dorchester, herringbone.

Brick nogging seems to have become popular in the Tudor period and retained its popularity in the 17th century. It’s not ideal structurally – the extra weight of the bricks could cause the timbers to bow and differences in the rates of expansion and contraction could lead to cracks. But bricks were highly fashionable in the Tudor and Stuart periods, and when wattle and daub panels needed replacing, many house owners seem to have followed fashion.

It’s hard to blame them, especially as they were using beautiful hand-made bricks with all their rich variations in colour. But of course, brick panels sometimes needed replacing too. No doubt maintenance and changes in window sizes resulted in some of the herringbone panels of this house being replaced with horizontally laid bricks. Those that remain, though, add wonderfully to the texture and colour of this handsome Oxfordshire street.

8 comments:

CarolineLD said...

Nogging - what a wonderful word.

Vinogirl said...

Love the herringbone.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Caroline: Yes, a great word. The OED has its first citation in 1434, when one Johanni Atkyns was paid, 'pro noggyng xii s. vi d.'

martin said...

Extraordinary. Probably hell to build,but wonderful to look at.
Nogging brings to mind-for me,at least-Noggin the Nog,the children's programme by the late Oliver Postgate.Could there have been a source of inspiration there? Quite probably not,but I just thought I'd throw it in.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Ah, Noggin the Nog, I remember him well. I think his name probably comes from the word 'noggin' – which means a small drinking vessel, or, colloquially, the head - which Noggin had to use on occasion to defeat Nogbad the Bad.

ChrisP said...

I grew up in a house with herringbone nogging in the roof gables, but it was a 1930s fake. Still pretty, though.

Minnie said...

Ah, so that's the technical term for it: might have known there'd be one - and thank you for revealing it in such an interesting context.
Arrived here from Caroline's blog, and glad to have done so.
Hm, also a Noggin the Nog/O Postgate fan!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Glad you found the blog, Minnie. I have bookmarked your own blog for reading soon.