Monday, December 28, 2020

Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire

Patterned brick, farm style

I don’t often post farm buildings on this blog, but I do often peer through farm gates, across yards, and along drives that were once used by tractors or herds of cows and now lead to clusters of ‘desirable homes’ in converted barns. Visiting Aardvark Books (a different kind of agricultural conversion, a book farm) I’ve sometimes had a short walk to see what else there is in the village, and have glanced at this near neighbour. What I see is, on the right, a timber framed building with the spaces between the bays partly infilled with weatherboarding, and on the left a lower brick barn.

The pattern of holes in the brickwork in the left-hand barn, used for ventilation, is something I’ve noticed several times in Herefordshire and elsewhere. The widespread use of brick came late to the West Midlands and border counties, getting established in the 17th century, in contrast to the East of England, where brick buildings survive from the late Middle Ages. I’d guess this barn is probably 19th century, and it may well have started life with a slate roof like the one it has today. The diamond of ventilation holes is typical, and must have been relatively easy to do for a bricklayer used to laying bricks with precision. I have the impression that it is, though, a slightly larger diamond than many I’ve seen. With a small array of holes, or two or three smaller arrays, the builder would have room for stretches of solid brickwork in between, to keep the structure sound. But this large diamond-shaped area of perforation seems to work, and to help a building in the once alien material of brick fit into the varied pattern of Herefordshire vernacular architecture, with its sandstone and timber-framed structures set against a background of rolling hills.


Anonymous said...

Love this. There's also one nearby at Yatton and another example between Bedstone and Hopton Castle. CHJ - Colyton

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Presumably the wall isn't only one brick thin: the "skin" on the inside layer must have some pretty nifty bricklaying skill to accommodate the "diamond"? Not to mention the gap, if any, between the outer and inner skins of brickwork?

John T said...

More detail regarding the construction of this wall would be great. I wasn’t aware of this apparent antecedent of the ubiquitous mid-century breeze block.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Joseph, John: Thank you both. I did feel inhibited by the private nature of the drive to go up it and try to see how the wall was built! But I did resolve when travel is permitted to check other, more accessible, barns in the area to see what I can glean of their construction.