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Raising the House of Wessex

posted on July 9, 2019

Last weekend we held an Anglo-Saxon Spectacular at the Sylva Wood Centre with the raising of the timber frame for the House of Wessex.

Following many months of planning and hard work preparing the timber frame with dozens of volunteers, work got underway on Wednesday last week in raising the frame. Just five days later, the frame was up. About 60 volunteers from the Carpenter’s Fellowship worked on the beautiful frame of oak, sweet chestnut, ash, and birch.

On Saturday evening we invited many of the volunteers involved in the project to join us in celebrating the raising of the frame, including archaeologists, local historians, local people, and the craftspeople for the next phases of wattling, daubing, and thatching. At the end of the fifth day, as tradition dictates, we added a sprig of oak to the ridge in a topping out ceremony.

We hope you enjoy this short timelapse film, which captures the digging of the trench foundations with an archaeological watching brief, the raising of the frame, and the filling back in of the trenches at the end.

Over the coming weeks we will be installing the hazel hurdles and begin the thatching. If you are interested in the project, make sure you visit the House of Wessex webpage to find out more.

Our thanks to all the amazing volunteers for their hard work, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the project.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Learn to make and erect a timber frame building

posted on March 19, 2013

Sylva staff have been helping the University of Oxford Harcourt Arboretum with plans to build a classroom shelter in their grounds at Nuneham Courtney, to help in the delivery of education to visitors of all ages.

They have just announced an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in timber framing to get involved, under expert tuition, through a series of events during May and June.

Plans for the timber frame classroom shelter at Harcourt

Plans for the timber frame classroom shelter at Harcourt

The structure will be a traditional timber frame encompassing a cruck design. Timber of various species, from the arboretum’s own woodland is in the process of being milled for the project, and the roof will be shingled.

The build will be run as a course taught by renown timber frame historian, practitioner, and instructor; Henry Russell.

  • Part one: 6th – 10th May, repeated 13th – 17th May: Walls and Cross frames.  Elements of traditional tenon and mortice joinery including a very beautiful cruck frame.
  • Part two: 20th – 24th May: Roofing.  Truss and purlin construction with common rafters.
  • Raising: 29th and 30th June.  All work will be with hand tools, and there will be an opportunity to try hand conversion of the timbers – hewing and pit sawing.

The cost for each course is £375, which includes daily lunch and refreshments, and free camping on site at Harcourt.

Full details are available from the course administrator, Barbara Czoch: barbara@carpentersfellowship.co.uk or please call 07971 629916

Harcourt timber frame - gable end

Harcourt timber frame – gable end showing cruck frame design

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OneOak timber – framing the future

posted on August 25, 2011

This week one of the boards from the OneOak tree was delivered to Carpenter Oak & Woodland for use in an innovative new house build. Project manager Gabriel Hemery went along to witness at first hand the creation of two timber braces and their installation in the oak frame.

OneOak timber arrives at Carpenter Oak & Woodland Ltd

The OneOak timber arrives at Carpenter Oak & Woodland Ltd

The Board

From the 22 boards milled from the OneOak tree at Deep in Wood sawmill 18 months ago, board 2.2 was selected for the timber framing project.  This was a board 4350mm long× 670mm wide × 105mm thick, cut from the second length (4.5m to 9.0m up the tree stem).

See more about this board and the others in our interactive online Sawn Timber Catalogue.

The build project

The OneOak board will be used in a large new build house in Gloucestershire.  It consists of 13 mono-pitched cross frames set out on a curved grid.  It is a complex, unusual and innovative architectural design.  All the timber, other that our OneOak board, consists of oak imported from France: a total of 19 tonnes of oak.  The timber frame is scheduled to be erected in late October.

The frame

The OneOak board was destined to be used to create two timber braces about 1700mm and 1500mm long.  Most of the frame had been constructed by the time our OneOak board was delivered.  Assistant Team Leader at Carpenter Oak & Woodland, Matt Collins, first cut the two rough lengths to 175mm wide using a skill saw, squared them and planed them smooth with an electric planer.  The two braces donated from the OneOak tree were only 18 months air-dried; normally the braces are dried for a minimum of five years. In this case however, the drying conditions at the sawmill produced timber that was sufficiently dry.

Set among the beams and working tools, the working drawing for the new build shows the curved grid design of the new build

Set among the beams and working tools, the working drawing shows the curved grid design of the new build

Carpenter Matt Collins marks out the two timber braces against the main frame after they have been sawn and planed.

Carpenter Matt Collins marks out the two timber braces against the main frame after they have been sawn to size and planed

The angled tenons are cut in the braces

The angled tenons are cut in the braces

The two braces complete and ready to test for fitting into the newly created mortices in the main frame.  Carpenter Matt Collins has been timber framing for five years.

The two braces complete and ready to test for fitting into the newly created mortices in the main frame.

The two braces complete and ready to test for fitting into the newly created mortices in the main frame.  Carpenter Matt Collins has been timber framing for five years.

The completed cross section with the two OneOak braces in place. Carpenter Matt Collins has been timber framing for five years.

The frame will be disassembled ready for transportation to the site of the new house build sometime in October. Typically the erection of a timber frame will take about one week on site.  We look forward to witnessing the frame being erected and to posting more about it here in the future.

Carpenter Oak and Woodland

Our thanks to all the team at Carpenter Oak & Woodland.


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