Chapter 1.


1.3 Field Work.

In compiling this dissertation it has been necessary because of time (one year) and expense to limit the geographical area of study to the North Essex and Suffolk borders close to the authors home. In consultation with senior colleagues in the Historic Buildings and Conservation Section of Essex County Council the consensus of opinion was that this area represented a good microcosm of the timber-framed buildings of East Anglia and so of timber-framed building in general. It would be a colossal feat of human endeavour to try to generalise across the whole country within a years' study.

In obtaining examples of ironwork repairs in-situ the main problem to be overcome is that of access to private buildings. In this study, twenty private homes or establishments were visited and subjected to close scrutiny. This was made possible by introductions from the Development and Control staff of the Historic Buildings Section and also through the author's own scheduled survey work for the Section.

Additional field visits in Essex were made to Sible and Castle Hedingham, Thaxted, Great Dunmow, Coggeshall, Finchingfield and Bocking. In Suffolk visits were made to Lavenham, Dedham, Sudbury, Clare, Long Melford and Rattlesden. The object of these visits being to identify ironwork visible on the exterior of the buildings - which for most investigators would be their only opportunity of seeing them.

Of these samples, examined entirely from the public street, there were another eight buildings of note. It should be borne in mind at all times that the ironwork was not designed to be seen and so only buildings stripped of their rendered facades give up their secrets.

The greatest source of examples, which may also prove to be the best dated, came from Cressing Temple, Witham, Essex. The scheduled monument is home to the Barley Barn c.1206AD, the Wheat Barn c.1260AD, the Granary c.1623AD and a number of early Victorian farm buildings. All these structures have a huge array of wrought iron components used to arrest their failing timbers and also, significantly, to bond in new partitions and alterations. The site is owned by Essex County Council and a great deal of close research has been undertaken in dating the timber structures. (Andrews.DDA, 1993).

Also at Cressing Temple, the author has amassed a good collection of loose ironwork which allowed closer study of its form and fabric and much of this has good provenance. Additionally a collection of hand tools has been compiled for which the author must thank Mr Elphin Watkin of the Essex Historic Buildings Group.

A study of the movement of Truss 5 of the Wheat Barn was also undertaken in order to illustrate empirically the forces at work on the timbers and their ironwork repairs. Readings were taken every two weeks.

Survey photography was undertaken using a Sony Mavica digital camera and the results worked up in Adobe Photoshop. All photography and illustration is by the author unless otherwise stated.

1.4 Literature and Archive search

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