Sunday, September 20, 2009
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.