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The Early-Modern Carpenter and Timber Framing in the Rural Sussex Weald

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 22:23 authored by Jayne C Kirk
The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed the peak of post-medieval iron and glass production in the Sussex Weald together with an upsurge in the building and re-modelling of local houses on such a scale that it has been called by some historians ‘The Great Rebuilding’. The link between iron, glass, and construction was the wood and timber industry, which utilized an ancient form of woodland management to provide charcoal for the furnaces and oak for the timber-framed buildings characteristic of the region. There is evidence to suggest, however, that timber from woodland sources was not as freely available as might be thought, and that the use of hedgerow trees, especially for the smaller vernacular house, was a viable alternative. It is possible to tell from tool marks on timbers in a surviving building not only what type of tree was used and how it was worked, but also how many were needed to complete the frame. These facts reflect on the local availability of building timber and thus the contemporary management of timber supplies. The life and work of the carpenter, the figure at the centre of the wood, timber, and construction industries at this time, are not so easily understood. In the absence of written accounts probate inventories have been taken as the most revealing source of information on standards of living and work practices and in the process have added considerably to what is already known of the rural Wealden artisan in early-modern Sussex.


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Sussex Archaeological Collections




Sussex Archaeological Society



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