"The typically East Wilts thatched cottage long
pre-dated the railway
but seemed entirely unconcerned by its newer, noisier neighbour."
indent Despite the preponderance of local
stone, Wiltshire generally is a very happy hunting ground for old half-timbered cottages,
many of which either remain thatched or have been recently re-thatched. In the 30s
and 40s however, thatch would have been even more common since it remained a cheap roofing
material; a situation which didn't really change until modern farming methods removed the
main source of supply by producing wheat with much shorter stalks which were quite
unsuitable for roofing.
indent The model is based on one of several cottages in the Eastern Limestone belt at Ablington, this one being dated 1665 and thus having a peaceful existence for over 200 years before the arrival of the railway! (Not that Ablington ever had a railway...) When built this would have been an example of the latest technological advances of the day since it was only in the mid 1600s that timber became particularly scarce (something to do with building ships, if I remember correctly...), and so the size of scantlings used was dramatically reduced while the spacing between the vertical timbers was dramatically increased compared with what it had been previously. These give a very different appearance compared to earlier houses with their heavy, closely-spaced timbers. Both however are examples of "Box Frame Construction" which, in their turn, are quite unlike the "Cruck" cottages so common just up the road in Pewsey and Lacock, both rightly famed for their timber-framed buildings.
indent When choosing prototypes for
any non-railway building I usually prefer to find examples from the particular area being
modelled since it is local vernacular variation which helps give authentic flavour to any
model. When the baseboard is so small that only one non-railway building can be
fitted in then the choice becomes that much more difficult - and vital - since it has to
not only create the right atmosphere but hint strongly at the location as well. In
this case the chalk landscape (as evidenced by the cutting sides and road verges), helps
with the location so an example of a humble cottage from the right area was all that was
needed. (I find most of mine in R J Brown's "The English Country
Cottage" published by Hale in 1979. A most valuable and interesting tome!)
|Previous photograph in series||Back to "Upper Isis Room" entrance||Next photograph in series|