Newsletter Registered with THE CIVIC TRUST May 1997
Could you put a date to this? We think it was just after the First World War.
Inside this Issue
URBAN FOCUS Extract of News from the Civic Trust
The Rod of l61/2 ft, the subject of an article a year ago, confronts us with another question - Where and how did it originate? Some 40 years ago the then rector of Buckland in Gloucestershire, his parsonage was a stone built Anglo-Saxon hall house, suggested that the Rod was the length of the building required to house a plough team of 4 Long Horned oxen. Whether this plausible suggestion is correct or not, its basic unit is the link of 10 inches; and this is a likely length for the Anglo Saxon man's foot. Since there are 25 links to a rod, and 4 rods to a chain, another basic measurement, the metric and duodecimal systems overlap.
It has long been known that at least some of the great mediaeval cathedrals and abbeys of both Europe and England were given their proportions by architect masons who employed the three regular triangles of Greek geometry to establish both the ground plan and the locations of their essential structural features: what has now been discovered is that similar principles of design are to be found in the timber framing of the huge English agricultural barns and French market halls, and in domestic buildings as well: the position of corners, pillars, roof plates and tie beams are plotted with triangles.
Another discovery has been made by a ceramic artist. For many years he studied the design of mediaeval tiles, English, continental and Persian, and found that these designs are constructed according to what he terms The Mediaeval Rectangle. This is created by employing a line of a given length to form the diameter of a circle, and then constructing within the circle the square of which the line is a diagonal. The square may be converted into an oblong by extending two opposite sides, and connecting them at right angles by lines which are tangents to the circle through just touching it. A variety of useful triangles may then be developed.
What is especially interesting is that the ground plan of a huge barn may be plotted by employing a series of overlapping circles, having their centres on the same straight line, a length of 3 rods as their common diameter, and the centre of each at the point where the previously scribed circle cuts the diameter line. At Cressing Barns two men, with two canes and a 11/2 rod length of string, scribed on the lawn the layout of the Barley Barn in 20 minutes. It had long been suspected that later repairs had cut two or three feet off both the length and the breadth of the barn, and after the two canes and piece of string experiment the footings of the original walls were uncovered where the scratched plan had indicated they should be.
But how did Greek geometry, preserved by the Arabs, reach Europe and England, and when? Did it come via the Knights Templar, an international society of warrior monks formed in the C12th. to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land during the early crusades? Or is its introduction even earlier?
Messrs Adrian Gibson and Laurie Smith, the investigators whose work has been outlined, have been published in two articles in volume 27 of Essex Archaeology and History. We can now apply their findings to our ancient barns, churches and houses.
An extract from a Suffolk County Council publication.
Some Key Statistics
Almost half of all Forestry Commission woodlands have been sold since 1981, according to research by the Ramblers' Association. The government has sold 2, 680 woods, or 46 per cent of the total number. These account for 10 per cent (125,000 hectares) of the total area of Forestry Commission woodland, which means, say the Ramblers, that "a very large number of small woods have been sold, while the Commission's huge plantations in Scotland and parts of England and Wales have mainly been retained".
WOODPECKERS AND ELMS
The fate of the English Elm seems to be bound up with the health of two species of British woodpecker, the great and lesser spotted, research by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has revealed. During the 1970s both species increased dramatically- numbers of great spots probably tripled and lessers at least doubled - possibly helped by the huge amounts of dead wood created by Dutch Elm disease. The lesser spotted population peaked in 1979, and has now dropped to just a quarter of that level, while the greats have increased by a further 50 per cent.
The BTO suggests that the massive clearance of dead elm wood deprived the lessers of an important food source. Their larger cousins are much more capable of feeding on large branches and tree trunks, and also, unlike the lesser, which is only the size of a sparrow, regularly feed in gardens on fat or other food put out for birds.
The Tree Helpline run by the Arboricultural Advisory and Information Service, is now a premium rate telephone line (0897 161147), costing callers £1.50 a minute. The formerly free service is manned by specialists who are able to give a wide range of expert advice and information about trees and related matters.
TREES v ROADS
Much more research is needed into techniques which could help to resolve the conflict between street trees and roads and pavements, according to a so far unpublished report, 'The Urban Tree Planning study', commissioned by the Highways Agency.
Optimistic claims are made for various techniques, the report summary says, but the validity needs to be thoroughly tested. Manufacturers claim that root barriers will direct roots downwards away from utility services or other structures, that specialist planting media will allow root growth and else provide sufficient support for pavings, that water storing polymers and additives will allow trees longer intervals between rainfall, and that porous surfacing will enable water to rapidly reach the soil beneath paved areas. It is possible, the report concludes, that such techniques will help trees and pedestrian areas and little used roads to co-exist happily together, but that they will not prove adequate to cope with the greater strength and durability required of busy roads.
Road schemes still dominate the Department of Transport's funding priorities despite changes in transport policy both locally and nationally.
That is the conclusion of a report- 'AT THE CROSSROADS: investing in sustainable transport'- produced by eight environmental organisations, including Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth and the Council for the Protection of Rural England (price £10 from CPRE. tel 0171 976 6433).
CALL FOR 'SUSTAINABLE' HOUSING
CIVIC TRUST Director Michael Gwilliam has warned that house builder's pleas for the release of green-field sites will ring hollow if they cannot show that they are committed to building in urban and suburban areas.
Speaking at the House Builders Federation conference in 1996, Mr Gwilliam said, "It behoves us to do everything we can to minimise the amount of green field going under bricks and mortar". He added that "We must not be afraid of the notion of sustainability".
PROTECTING OUR HERITAGE
The Civic Trust has welcomed the Government commitment to conservation, expressed in the consultation paper 'PROTECTING OUR HERITAGE'. But it is disappointed that an opportunity has been missed to take up the broader role of heritage policy in the drive for sustainable development and regeneration.
DESIGN IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
On 1 November 1996 the Countryside Commission launched two schemes to enable residents of English villages to play an active and constructive part in planning the future of their localities. Village design statements (VDSs) and countryside design summaries (CDSs) are intended to promote regional diversity, local distinctiveness and harmony between buildings, settlements and the landscape.
Friends of the Guildhall are delighted that Ronald Blythe has agreed to open the garden on July 2nd or 3rd, 1997.
Most of the construction work is now complete, or well in hand, but volunteer gardeners are urgently required.
We would like 2 or 3 people to agree to look after a specific area; this ranges from planting and caring: for a whole bed, to sweeping a path.
Offers please to Hattie Bawden (01473) 823193 or Jane Haylock at the Idler.
We hope to see many Members at our display within the Suffolk Preservation Society tent at the show. We need at least 15 people to help on the day (11/2 hours each). It is very interesting in the tent and a welcome opportunity to sit down!
Please join us:
Contact Hattie Bawden (01473) 823193
Thursday 26 June 1997 at 8pm
The next Society meeting will be the Annual General Meeting which, once again, we plan to hold downstairs in Hadleigh Town Hall. This will be followed by the serving of cheese and wine and other refreshments. We do hope you can join us if you are able.
All member's are, once again, encouraged to complete and return the nomination form for service on the Society's Executive Committee or to advise the Secretary of any likely candidates on Hadleigh (01473) 823991.
This year Denis Partridge is standing down as Hon. Treasurer under the five-year rule and goes with our best wishes and grateful thanks for a job well done.
HADLEIGH MILLENNIUM PROJECT
Have you a bright Idea for a Millennium celebration in Hadleigh that the Society might undertake on its own initiative or in conjunction with the Town Council or other organisations?
A PRIZE of £25 is offered for any suggestion accepted by the Executive Committee, the Chairman's decision being final. Just drop John Bloomfield a line at the Pink House, 49 Angel Street, Hadleigh or ring him on (01473) 822063 or the Secretary on (01473) 823991.