In An Old House by Varlows

In An Old House, by Peter & Sally Varlow. Lewes, Pomegranite Press.  2018

Anyone who appreciates timber-framed buildings in the Weald of Sussex will realise what a significant impact the making of the building had on the local woodland. This book explores the ins and outs, the nooks and crannies, the joints and trusses that went into the construction of this particular house 500 years ago. The immediate impact of felling of trees in the winter of 1474-3 would have denuded quite a lot of woodland. The bare facts to construct this building included 143 trees (weighing 27 green tonnes) as well as 233 small timbers, held together with 619 joints.  The joints included 440 mortices and tenons and 138 lap joints. All this wood could be sawn from a block of woodland about 50 acres in size. The tree expert Oliver Rackham estimates that such a block would produce 100 suitable trees over a 50 year period. This is a wonderful book about a typical house in the Weald near Lewes. It draws together the history of the various owners, the local trades and how the house was created in the landscape: a masterpiece in every sense.