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Old bones


This is what we went to see in Alfriston: the Clergy House. We’ve been several times before; it’s one of my favorites.

The house is a perfect transition from Medieval to Tudor. It was built in the 13th C. The original floor (hard-packed and white, made of sour milk and chalk) had a firepit in the center. It was one big open room, with the master’s table at one end and the servants at the other, just like a Medieval hall (or Viking longhouse). The smoke rose up to the high pitched roof and escaped out the…well, thatch or stone. They’re not sure of the original.

One big smokey, sweaty communal living area, just like Wayland intended.

Then the Tudors got hold of it and installed all sorts of wacky newfangled conveniences, like a fireplace and an upstairs with stairs and rooms.

The picture shows what it looked like in the late 19th, when it had damn near crumbled back into the earth. It was so far gone, it was more easily returned to its original Medieval condition, with the outline of the later innovations still showing.

It’s not one of those so-rebuilt-it’s-practically-Disney sorts of places, though (I’m looking at you, Great Dixter). It’s all original, down to the funky floors and wattle-and-daub construction.

I could spend a lot of time staring at those walls, if the steward hadn’t been such a loquacious and excitable young man.

Remember, now: Dead Pool Round 77. Tomorrow. 6WBT. Be here, or be somewhere else! Or go somewhere else and then come back here!


Comment from Nina
Time: September 24, 2015, 9:59 pm

You could do a lot worse than have your house be “surrounded by a delightful, tranquil cottage garden full of wildlife.”

I could get used to it if I really really had to. I mean, if someone would like to give me the chance, I’d give it my best shot.

Comment from catnip
Time: September 25, 2015, 5:47 am

That’s a super-neat house. No wonder you love to visit it. I saw a description online noting that there was no glass in its windows for the first 300 years of its existence, only shutters to keep out the cold and damp. We’re such softies today, we’d probably die of mildew.
The caretakers (possibly volunteers) have a twitter account. During August they repaired the outer side of a wattle and daub panel that was damaged. Surprisingly, behind its stucco-like appearance, the wall consists of basket-woven wood! https://twitter.com/AlfristonNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 25, 2015, 7:22 am

The Clergy House (like others we’ve seen) has a clever device: at a couple of places in the house, they’ve sliced open the wall and put a glass and frame around it, so you can see in to the original wattle and daub. Very cool.

Our little bit of wattle and daub just, like, sticks out in the hall 😛

Comment from catnip
Time: September 26, 2015, 2:48 am

Really have to hand it to ye olde Brits for building homes with an eye toward character and longevity. (Now you’ve got me wondering what lies behind the wattle and daub in your hall.)

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: September 26, 2015, 5:52 am

The BBC had a series called The Worst Jobs. One of the Medieval ones was wattle and daubing.

Comment from Carl
Time: September 26, 2015, 6:38 pm

It was the first house purchased by the National Trust. They paid £10 for it in 1896.

Wease, you probably know this already, but about 2 miles south of Alfriston is a viewpoint called “High and Over” where you get a magnificent view of the Cuckmere River meandering towards the sea. Well worth stopping for.

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