Monday, November 16, 2020

Avebury, Wiltshire

Dream topping 

Was I dreaming? The west churchyard wall at Avebury seemed to have a roof of very neatly finished thatch. It seemed an unlikely covering for a wall made of sarsen stones, among the toughest kind around. The result seemed worthy at least of a photograph and some later research. 

Looking it up when I reached home, I discovered that this exceptional wall is listed at Grade II. The listing text describes the structure as built of ‘Squared sarsen approximately 1.6 m high, with topping of cob and thatched coping.’ So there we have it. The top of the wall, oddly is made of cob, a mix made with mud and vulnerable to damage if exposed to the rain. Wiltshire has many cob walls that have thatched coping, and this is one with a difference. 

The thatch also helps shelter a rather well cut monument to Francis Knowles, a biologist (and an FRS) and Professor of Anatomy at King’s College, London. Knowles bought the manor from Francis Keiller in 1955 and lovingly restored it.* It’s good that his memorial is nearby, protected by the thatched coping of the churchyard wall.  

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* The house is now owned by the National Trust, who did further conservation work around ten years ago. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Phillip there was a thatched wall at Weyhill near Andover. Slightly west of the filling station on the other side of the road, The wall was built of clutch or the local equivalent.