In this country generally few buildings survive before the fifteenth century, and because typically only external inspections were undertaken for Historic England listings, many of our earliest phases of buildings still go unrecognised. Gloucestershire is fortunate to have a high survival of early medieval buildings (before 1400): St Mary’s Church in Kempley contains the oldest in-situ roof dated in Britain, The Blackfriars 13th century Dominican friary in Gloucester is the best preserved in Britain and 26 Westgate Street is described as one of the finest timber-framed town houses of its kind. People walk past these buildings everyday, but few are aware of their antiquity, rarity and importance.
Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Newent contain clusters of some best surviving, but little known timber-frame buildings in Gloucestershire. Gloucester is unique in being a city with such good survival of medieval buildings. Tewkesbury is one of the best medieval townscapes in England. Newent contains a broad representation of timber-framed buildings and contains some particularly wonderful exposed examples of timber-framing and ornamentation.
Between 2020 and 2022 this project ran with the aim to involve local people and the building owners in recording and precisely dating the construction of little known clusters of surviving timber-framed buildings in Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Newent. Tree-ring dating (Dendrochronology) was undertaken on a total of 51 phases of building concentrating on publicly prominent medieval buildings at each of the three locations. The main aims of the project were to:
- increase public understanding and appreciation of this rich heritage
- to map the chronology of early development
The Project’s Summary Results
Three self guided Medieval Building walk maps have been produced. PDF copies of these colour maps can be downloaded from the links below:
Hard copies of these maps are also available from a number of outlets including in:
Gloucester at The Civic Trust St Michaels Tower & The Folk Museum
Tewkesbury at The Heritage Centre & John Moore Museum
Newent at the Library
Particular preference was given to buildings that were both prominent and publicly accessible and so their dating would provide a permanent resource legacy to help in recognising and understanding timber-framed buildings. Where exciting examples of timber-framing were hidden behind later façades 3D images were taken to enable such examples to be more widely known and generally accessible.
Many buildings in the project are publicly accessible and some have previously attracted Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). Some of the outstanding examples of the buildings that were included are shown below:
Some of the results
Youtube videos of three lectures discussing the initial tree-ring results for the Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project as well as a four part documentary on the project is now available on the following page.
An paper entitled: Tree-Ring Dated Changes in Gloucestershire’s Vernacular Timber-Framed Traditions has been accepted for publication in Vernacular Architecture Vol 53, which is due to come out in February 2023. The project has also produced a short article available here: The Search for Chamfer Stops