Sunday, September 20, 2009

Calmsden, Gloucestershire

Six of the best

This row of houses in a Cotswold hamlet is, like most traditional buildings on the Cotswolds, built of local oolitic limestone. Classicists among you will recognise in the word ‘oolitic’ Greek words for ‘egg’ and ‘stone’. Oolitic limestone (or oolite for short) is made up of millions of tiny round, egg-like fragments, each of which consists of a roughly spherical build-up of calcium carbonate around a core. It makes one of the most beautiful of English building stones and buildings in this material grace towns and villages running in a belt right across the country from Dorset to Lincolnshire.

As with most Cotswold cottages, limestone makes up almost the whole structure: there are limestone walls, limestone ‘slates’ on the roof, and little limestone-roofed dormer windows. But two distinctive features make this row of probably early-19th century cottages stand out. The first is the hexagon-pattern glazing. Although unusual this is seen on several buildings in this and the neighbouring village and is presumably the ‘house style’ of a local estate. The other feature is the little white porches. Many cottages have small wooden porches protecting the front door. But these have elegant curved roofs made, of all materials, of corrugated iron. Limestone and corrugated iron: an unusual combination, but it works.


Thud said...

Beside the many beauties of limestone, the word oolitic has a beauty all of its own.

James said...

I'm not used to seeing this style of house. It's a wonderful picture and it's so nice to see the differnt English buildings on your blog.

If you have the time and don't mind would look at my post and tell me if have any details about the architectural style some buildings?
They are in Philadelphia. They look like 19th century to me, and I think they are row houses.

Thanks and have a wonderful day.

Something Sighted

Hels said...

Did you say when these homes were first built? Are they heritage protected? What sort of family would have lived in these cottages?

I do love the social history we get from architecture :)

Philip Wilkinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: I think these houses were built at the beginning of the 19th century and I've edited the post to include this date. The people who originally lived in them would probably have been workers on the local estate – farm workers, most likely. There's a lot to be said about the lives of people who lived in houses like these, and it's a subject I hope to return to in future posts.

martin said...

Thank you Mr Wilkinson. My question answered fully and concisely,and in language that I can understand.
Plus a superb row of cottages to illustrate the point.
Spotting the corrugated iron is quite tricky.I presume it was just a method of putting available material to good use.

Peter Ashley said...

What a lovely row. Those corrugated iron porches have certainly got me going.

Philip Wilkinson said...

James: The houses do look 19th-century, but I'm not an expert on North American architecture. Nice blog, too.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Peter: Be assured, I'll be on the lookout for more corrugated iron.

Shep said...

I used to live in the second one from the left. They were damp, cold and draughty, the windows were difficult to keep clean, and there was not a square, solid wall in the house.
All the tenants worked on the estate, which was why they were originally built.
I was told that they were built during the Napoleonic wars, using the cheapest local materials available.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Good to hear from you Shep. Things aren't always what they seem when it comes to cottages, and it's interesting to hear the 'inside' story. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

These cottages are still lived in by mostly workers attached to the Estate. I live in one of the central dwelings.

The windows still do not fit exactly but this can draft proofed with a little tissue paper in the winter. They are solidly built, warm and dry, with a great deal of character. We have modern bathrooms and kitchens within added extentions to the rear.

Calmsden village is a wonderful place to live. The air is wonderfull, and it teems with birds and types of wildlife,

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: Thank you so much for your comment. It is very good to read another perspective on these cottages. I always appreciate hearing from people who live in the buildings I feature on the blog. Calmsden does look like a lovely place I must say.