Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Old barn

click photo to enlarge
Anyone journeying through England will notice that old farm buildings invariably use local materials. So, in Eastern counties warm reddish brick walls and roofs of orange (or sometimes yellow/buff) clay pantiles are frequently seen. Move to the North and dour stone walls predominate, with stone or split slate roofing the buildings. In South East England and the West Midlands timber-framing is seen with infill of brick or mud closing the walls, though some areas favour tile-hanging or boarding. In these areas roofs would have been thatched with straw or reeds, and many still are, though tiles and corrugated metal have often replaced the natural materials.

These styles derive from what was locally available and from the skills of the local people. So, for example, an absence of suitable building stone often led to the use of timber and infill, or brick, and geographical areas can be plotted on the basis of this kind of building characteristic. However, places that border two adjacent areas with distinctive vernacular traditions often feature more "mongrel" styles. The other day I stopped to photograph a couple of old, dilapidated barns at Bridge End near the edge of the Fens in Lincolnshire. The Fenland landscape is characterised by old farm buildings made of brick and roofed with pantiles. However, Bridge End is close to the nearby uplands where limestone was quarried. This found its way into domestic buildings as well as the churches, and down on to the adjacent flatlands.

The barn in the photograph probably dates from the early nineteenth century, though it may be older. Its pleasingly irregular pantile roof has had sections of glass tiles inserted to let in light. At some point the building has been extended without the new part being locked into the old. It's anyone's guess which came first - the left side or the right. However, I'm wondering whether the builder re-used stone from an older structure, and employed bricks to make the doorway because it's easier and that's what he was used to doing. Perhaps the former Gilbertine priory that was at Bridge End is the source of the stone?

I took this shot for the interesting mixture of textures on this part of the old building. I was pleased to see the rusting cross of the end of a tie beam filling the space on the right and giving some balance to the old door and ivy on the left.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 43mm (86mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On