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Historic Buildings Group

Dendro-dated Buildings in Buckinghamshire


AIM: To examine the 50-plus historic buildings in Buckinghamshire for which dendrochronology has given an exact construction date in order to record their structural and architectural features as vernacular buildings. The underlying aim is to match these features to the periods in history when they were used, thus enabling oither buildings in the county to be dated.

PROJECT TEAM: Sue Fox, Peter Marsden, Andrew Muir, Rosemarie Storr,
Heather Wallace, Julia Wise

COORDINATOR: Peter Marsden

The Vernacular Architecture Group The team's first step was to obtain a list of buildings in the county for which construction dates were known scientifically, through the use of dendrochronology. This was relatively easy, because happily the Vernacular Architecture Group maintains a national database containing just that. A quick search revealed 55 buildings in the county with dates ranging from 1174 (a barn at Bierton) to 1812 (a squatter's cottage at Ludgershall).

To these could be added two houses recently dendro-dated as part of BAS Historic Buildings Group projects: one in Hedgerley, one in Wingrave.

Because the aim of the project is to date the features of vernacular buildings - dwellings and farm buildings, by and large - not all of these buildings suited this purpose. Churches, which have an architectural language all of their own, were one obvious group; the 'classical temples' of Stowe Park were another.

At its first meeting the team decided on its second step: to find out how much information was already known about each of the buildings on its list before venturing out 'into the field'. This decision was to some extent informed by the date: the team's first meeting was in November... and it was raining!

Rings showing the growth pattern of a tree. So the buildings on the list were shared out and the team set out do some searching on-line - a strategy that immediately proved its worth when several of the buildings on the list were shown to have been demolished. We would have wasted a lot of time (and warmth) searching for those in the winter's snow!

Where next? Watch this space...