The completed timber-framed log store with stone plinth

The Inspiration I drew from drawing timber-framed buildings! by Charles Green, Public Engagement Officer

When I first started my working life, I had the great pleasure of working for the Royal Commission, when it was managed by the late Peter Smith. At the time, Peter was working on the revised edition of Houses of the Welsh Countryside (available as an eBook).

It was first published in 1975 to celebrate European Architectural Heritage Year, and was awarded the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion by the Society of Architectural Historians for the best work on architectural history published in that year.

Reconstruction drawing of Althrey Hall, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 201
Reconstruction drawing of Althrey Hall, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 201

The later edition featured many historic timber-framed buildings, including Plas Newydd (Ruabon), Althrey Hall (Wrexham) and Trewern Hall (near Welshpool). I had the privilege of not only drawing these fine examples of historic domestic architecture but also visiting them with colleagues from the Royal Commission. As I remember, Plas Newydd at the time was undergoing massive restoration and the timber frame of the building was fully exposed. This timber-framed skeleton made a lasting impression on me, not only because of the skills of the craftsmen centuries ago, but also for its sheer scale and for the vast amount of timber used in construction.

Reconstruction drawing of Plas Newydd, Ruabon, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 52
Reconstruction drawing of Plas Newydd, Ruabon, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 52


Green Timber-framed Buildings

One weekend in 2014, I attended a volunteer day-school helping with the building of Long Wood Community Woodland’s new visitor centre, near Lampeter, where I had a go at making oak pegs for the wooden frame. First, we split oak logs using a froe, and then, using a shaving-horse, we clamped the pegs, and with a drawknife shaped the square pegs.


Timber-frame Inspiration and Construction

I think it was these experiences that in later life inspired me to build my own timber log store. Having only drawn timber-framed buildings in the past, and knowing how mortice and tenon joints were held together with pegs, I thought how difficult can it be to build a timber-framed store? Without plans of any sort, and with only an image of what I wanted to build (in my head), the green newly-sawn Western Red Cedar arrived. After a bit of head scratching, I set to work measuring, sawing, and chiselling the joints. All the materials were sourced locally, including the reclaimed Welsh slates which were re-holed and attached to roofing battens using copper nails.

The completed timber-framed log store with stone plinth
The completed timber-framed log store with stone plinth
The pegged roof-truss
The pegged roof-truss

Over time the joints have dried, pulling the mortice, tenons and pegs tightly together. The seasoned log-store has weathered well over the intervening years, producing an attractive structure, inspired by, and perhaps becoming part of, the history and built heritage around us.


Timber-framed Buildings in the Archive

Drawings showing plans, elevations, and details of Trewern Hall (below) and Penarth, Newtown, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 124
Drawings showing plans, elevations, and details of Trewern Hall (below) and Penarth, Newtown, from RCAHMW’s Houses of the Welsh Countryside, fig 124

The Royal Commission’s archive holds a vast collection of drawings, plans and sections of domestic architecture from across Wales surveyed and recorded by the Commission’s survey team.

How will the drawings from Royal Commission’s archive inspire you?

By Charles Green, Public Engagement Officer

07/03/2020

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