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Restoration - Hovel Number 1.

 

Architectural Record Drawing 2004. Drawn: Frank Hazzard

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February 2011. Shows footings and dwarf walling and covered with fabric to protect from frost. Bricks are being sorted and cleaned for rebuilding of the brick gable wall

 

Introduction

The tenant to the six-acre small holding, whose family the six-acre smallholding had been in its procession for some decades, relinquished his tenancy in 2003. The hovel at the time was completely enveloped in ivy, as are two other hovels alongside Lenchwick Lane. Removing the ivy revealed a rather handsome and well-proportioned building. It was soon realized however that the structural integrity of this building was comprised. The brick lime mortar had failed, and as a consequence, the gable wall was bulging outwards at its middle horizontally, and overall leaning away from the building. The dwarf walling weakened by the failing mortar, on which the timber stud walling rested,was spreading outwards due to the weight of this feature. The heat from fires within the fireplace at the base to the chimney in the brick gable, had caused the bricks there to facture and be displaced from their position. Ivy was penetrating the mortar beds and entering the two fluted cavities within type Evesham brick, thereby forcing apart these bricks. Rabbits burying and undermining the brick footings and brick paved floor then played their part. The timber posts aside the stable and main room doors were rotten at their bottom ends, where these slotted into the brick pockets on the top course of the brick dwarf walling. The timber stud sole plates together with the lower timbers of the stud walling were rotten from rising damp and consequently the stud walling had dropped in places, up to two to three inches from its original height. With the missing hayloft door, penetrating rain water had caused the horizontal timber header piece to the timber gable to rot, to the extent the middle section of this feature at the entrance to the first storey hayloft was nonexistent. All the remaining five Victorian hovels in the immediate area on the former Wood Norton Estate are in a similar state and some are near to imminent collapse. Their demise all given over to this gradual process of fabric decline described. Given the condition of the building and deciding to rescue this structure, a complete restoration was required, rather than a preservation of the building, which may have proven temporary midterm. First architect's record drawings were produced in 2004. A part by part repair was then instigated, keeping the roof raised and in position by timber pylon supports and then removing each timber elevation at a time,whilst the dwarf walling was rebuilt. However this proved an impractical process; In 2012, a planning application was then submitted to Wychavon District Planning Department to dismantle completely and rebuild the hovel as a restoration. The application was successful, with the acknowledgement of the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service (WAAS) noting the historical importance of this project to the locality. Mike Glyde, Historic Environment Planning Officer of WAAS, noted: While superficially insignificant, these late Victorian agricultural shelters are of local importance and represent a very distinctive building type which contributes to local distinctiveness.

 

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Architectural Record Sketches, 26th August 2004. Drawn: Frank Hazzard

 

 

Views of original brick gable end taken from the south elevation - moving counterclockwise to the east elevation, being the roadside view of the building. Notice timber props supporting brick gable and tar previoulsy painted on the bricks to prevent the ingress of damp from rain. Last photo: Corner to dwarf wall to stable at roadside showing extent of rotten lime mortar.

Gradually, the function of certain features, their design ingenuity and craftsmanship given to the construction of these hovels was understood. Features that were missing from this hovel, for example, the main roadside window and stable window and vent have been pieced together from viewing remnants of these features found in this and other hovels. It has been rather been investigation over time piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. No complete examples of these features remain in situ, however pieces enabling a completed feature have been found, some pieces were located in situ and others found put to one side in this and other hovels.

All materials used in restoring this building are identical to those originally used. These have either been reclaimed, such as Evesham Pershore bricks, or are new, such as larch timber for the replacement repair, where necessary, to timber stud walling, roof sarking boards and exterior boarding. Traditional lime mortar was used for rebuilding the brick walling. All work done has maintained the proportion and design true to this individual hovel, since all the hovels inspected have shown some variance to design, proportion and joinery. However where there have been found features omitted - shortcomings to the original build,which contributed to its demise long term, but found in the construction of other hovels, these have been added. These additional features are however few, being brick footings (Please see Brickwork page for explanation) to the brick dwarf walling and brick gable end and the inclusion of the necessary number of header bricks per course to give the upright strength to the gable wall. Thus achieving the only bond of brick pattern recognized in the remaining hovels, this being Flemish Garden Bond. To help prevent future issues occurring to the fabric long term, the utilization of current building practise in some instances was felt necessary. First, concrete newton blocks were first laid, two deep and the top overlappping the bottom course to form the underside of the brick footings. This creating a more than stable platform for the footings, and especially an overall depth below soil level to help avoid the undermining of this feature by rabbits. Secondly, a concrete slab 100mm deep was poured internally with the addition of a damp proof membrane, providing a permanently stable platform for the sand and brick paved floor. And again this feature is to provide defence against rabbits undermining the brick paved floor. Lastly, a belt of damp course fabric was placed in between the top course of the dwarf walling and underside the sole plate to the timber stud walling to prevent rising damp attacking the timber work. The use of these additional modern materials or building procedures have not subtracted from the original build process, materials employed or design build dimensions.

All the remaining hovels in the area of Lenchwick Lane and alongside the new A44 link road have a generic similarity: They appear not to be constructed with strict adherence to the same drawing or hovel serving as a template. This slight freedom in the execution of the individual build of these remaining hovels is an asset to their character. There is an obvious leeway in following a specific construction method and a design layout. This is possibly due to the sporadic supply of identical machined materials for a certain feature, be it due to the involvement of different joinery workshops and sawmills and what they were able to supply. There is the intuition of carpenters and bricklayers or multi- skilled craftsman, as to what was felt appropriate to the build of the individual hovel in hand. Thus the uniformity of the size of timber pieces for a repetitive feature could be disregarded, such as header pieces for door frames, roof sarking boards, interior panelling and external featheredge boarding. Also which side elevation of a hovel were the placement of doors and windows to be located. The labour time a craftsman spent to an aspect of construction of a hovel can also vary from hovel to hovel. For example, the original brick gable to the hovel example illustrated here, being referred to as number 1, showed there was blatant deviation from Flemish Garden bond evident on a number of brick courses, some courses having many stretcher bricks with little to be seen of header bricks laid. Sometimes there being brick courses three bricks high, consisting of stretcher bricks only. Incidentally even the current brick gable end is not true to Flemish Garden bond, and is the reverse situation to the original brick gable, now with there often being one to two stretcher bricks placed, not three in a row as should be and then the incidence of a header brick. Although, I am content that it is to be seen, the three dwarf walls do follow the specified brick bond. Other hovels however, numbering four with original brick gable ends in place, illustrate almost complete adherence to the aspect of Flemish Garden bond, as seen in their brick gable ends made of the steam machine pressed Evesham Pershore bricks of the time. In one particular instance, bricks have been chosen for their colour to produce an attractive visual pattern as seen within the brick gable wall pictured below. Here, mostly the stretcher bricks have a red tint colour and the header bricks have a yellow cream tint contributing to an overall pleasing sight.

 

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Hovel. Number 7. Image: February 2011,Winkett and Son. Found alongside A44 link road. For location see Aerial photograph on History page

 

 

Architectural Record Drawings of the Hovel and Lean-to building addition, 2004 and 2012. Drawn: Frank Hazzard

 


 

Below: The other five remaining hovels that were built circa 1880 on new smallholdings created on the Wood Norton Estate. All hovels may be located by viewing the site page: Hovels - Aerial Location

Hovel, Number 7. Owned by Winkett and Son. Found alongside A44 link road. Photograph: February 2011.

 

 

 

 

Hovel (No 6), Owned by Winkett and Son. Found alongside A44 link road. Photograph: February 2011.

 

Below are three hovels formally owed by Robert Bryd of Alfred Bryd and Son. Robert Bryd was the tenant to the six acre small holding on which the subject hovel No.1 is found.

Hovel No 2. on Lenchwick lane south-west of the subject hovel along Lenchwick Lane towards the T junction with the A44 Link Road

 

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Hovel Number 3. Again further along Lenchwick Lane to the south-east

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Hovel, Number 5. On a hill rise and above and to the south-east of the Lenchwick Lane/A44 T junction. Note the former brick gable end has been replaced with metal corrugated sheeting. The brick gable end collapsed in 2010.

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