Friday, December 8, 2023

Shrewton, Wiltshire


Looking through my pictures the other day for something else, I found this picture that I took years ago and probably meant to blog. It’s the gate lodge to an adjacent manor house and stands proud and white near a road junction (near where the village lock-up is also to be found), a very effective architectural signpost, as it were, to the gate to the larger dwelling. It’s built of cob, a material consisting of earth, water, sand, and straw. Cob is associated most closely with Devon, Cornwall, and Norfolk, although it’s also found in Wiltshire (and in Buckinghamshire, where it’s known as wychert). The walls are likely to be quite thick (about 2 ft) and offer good heat insulation, but need a well maintained overhanging roof to keep them dry. This one has a hipped roof of thatch to do the job.

The Gothic windows suggest a late-18th century date, which is what is suggested in the official listing description of this building. The house looks substantial, and also has a modern extension, part of which is just visible in my photograph, so would provide accommodation for someone who worked for the owners of the manor house, together with their family. I’ve written blog posts about several lodges before,* including a number with thatched roofs, because these are often striking, ornamental buildings. I was glad to find this one again among my pictures, and looking at it has made me resolve to return to Shrewton one day – according to the revised Pevsner volume for Wiltshire, there’s a cob crinkle-crankle wall somewhere nearby, which I missed. When you visit a place once, there’s nearly always something else to see when you retiurn.

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* For more, click the word ‘lodge’ in the list of topics in the right-hand column.

1 comment:

Chris Partridge said...

Cob doesn't only need an overhanging roof, but foundations that keep the mud walls off the ground. The saying was "give a cob house a good hat and stout boots, and it will last for ever".