Dating Houses – More Information
Traditional Timber Framing – A Brief Introduction, University of the West of England
Dating of English Houses, Smith and Yates, Field Studies Council, 1968
A regularly reprinted paper originally published in the journal, Field Studies. There’s lots of useful detail but particularly accessible are annotated sketches of over 30 real examples. Each helps you spot the clues you need when it comes to dating houses from external evidence.
The Old Ship, Bignor, Sussex. Wealden type house (Image Credit – RT Mason)
Harts Cottage, Corfe Mullen, Dorset
How to Date Buildings, Trevor Yorke, Countryside Books, 2017
A useful illustrated guide which takes you through the various tell-tale features including chimneys, roofing and doors. This section on bricks is a good example where brick type, bonding and decoration all provide dating evidence for English houses.
The earliest bricks dating from the late Medieval and Tudor period tend to be thin and long, with a rough surface reflecting the clay which would have been extracted close to the building site (left). As brick grew in popularity during the 17th century, so local brickworks became established and the size of brick standardized (centre left). By the early 19th century, bricks were uniform in size (centre), although they were still handmade with their colour and finish depending on the local clay used. A recessed upper and/or lower surface (frog) was introduced from around 1800, although this can only be seen if an individual brick is exposed. From the mid 19th century new methods of mass production, machine cutting, and improved transport meant finer quality, sharp edged bricks were widely available (centre right). Pressed patterns in the face of bricks were popular from the 1930s (right).
Bonding is the way in which bricks are laid in the wall and the pattern formed on the outside from the long sides of the bricks (stretchers) and the short ends (headers). Early brick walls usually have no clear pattern. English bond is a row of headers, then one of stretchers (top left) and was developed in the 16th century. Flemish bond has a header followed by a stretcher in each course (top centre), and became standard from the early 18th through to the mid 19th centuries. Both of these could have a number of courses of stretchers inserted so less bricks were used, referred to as a garden bond (top right). Brick tax (1784-1850), which was applied on the quantity used, encouraged manufacturers to make bricks larger and some builders to use rat bond, with the bricks stacked up on their thinner sides (bottom left). English bond was reintroduced in the late 19th century, often in its garden bond version (bottom centre). Stretcher bond, with a cavity between the inner and outer face (bottom right), can be found in the late 19th century and became standard from the 1920s.
Diamond shaped patterns formed in darker bricks were popular in the 15th and 16th centuries and were re-introduced in many Victorian buildings. Regency brickwork often had chequered patterns formed from red mixed with cream or grey bricks (left). Polychromatic patterns and stripes formed by using red, cream and black bricks are distinctive of the mid 1850s to late 1870s (centre). More restrained bands of red brick and cream stone (right) were fashionable in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.