Saturday, March 1, 2008

Weobley, Herefordshire

With one city, no big towns, a small, mainly rural population, and a dearth of motorways and heavy industry, Herefordshire is one of the quietest of all English counties, little known to outsiders. Yet it has a beautiful rural landscape – of rolling hills, sheep fields, cider apple orchards, views towards the uplands of Wales. As in much of rural England, buildings add to and enhance this character. Herefordshire has some good building stone – the pinkish sandstone that Hereford Cathedral is built of, for example, and limestones in a range of colours from yellow to chocolate. But in many areas the dominant local building style is “black and white” – a timber frame infilled with wattle and daub.

There are whole villages of black and white houses in Herefordshire, and one of the finest is Weobley, between Hereford and Kington. The photograph shows the Red Lion, bits of which date back to the 14th century. This part of the building has a timber-framed upper floor on top of a sandstone ground floor. The upper floor has a big overhang, a feature called a jetty which gives a little more floor space upstairs. More importantly, a jetty was a sign of status – to the medieval mind it said, ‘I can afford the extra wood and the skilled carpenter that this feature demands.’ The arch-shaped timber braces either side of the window on the end wall are high-status features too. The plaster red lion is a much later addition, but affords a touch of charm and colour. Here’s to it.


thud said...

I hope Herefordshire remains undiscovered!

Peter Ashley said...

I know a bloke who was going to do a book on architectral/sculptural lions, and was going to call it "Hard Lions".

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thud - I agree. But in spite of the Hereford tourism office's efforts to get people to go on 'Black and White' tours or Cider-tasting visits, I can't see the county getting overrun.
Peter - Clearly someone with an eye to the mane chance.