The Building Conservation Directory 2022

83 C AT H E D R A L COMMU N I C AT I O N S T H E B U I L D I N G CON S E R VAT I ON D I R E C TO R Y 2 0 2 2 MASONRY 3.2 BRICKWORK Historic development, decay, conservation and repair GERARD LYNCH P REVIOUSLY CONSIDERED to be an inferior material to stone, brick was rarely used in construction in Britain until the close of the Middle Ages. The popularity of the material can be traced to the revival of brick-making in eastern England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. This was a direct result of the lack of good local building stone, an increasing shortage of good timber, and the influence of areas of continental Europe where brickwork was used extensively. By the Tudor period the bricklayers and particularly the brickmasons, skilled in working bricks to size and shape post- fired, had emerged as separate craftsmen well able to rival the stonemasons. From unsophisticated early work, brick, as a prestigious building material, entered its heyday, rivalling stone in its popularity as a structural material. TUDOR BRICKWORK 1485–1603 Bricks were generally made on site in wood, heather or turf (peat) fired clamps by itinerant workers. Not only were standard bricks produced but also many in extravagant and elaborate shapes, epitomised by those that formed the spiral twisted chimney stacks for which the period is renowned. The Tudors further patterned their brickwork by inserting flared headers of over burnt bricks into the walling. These dark surfaces, stained by the potash from the wood fuel, ranged from deep purple to slate in colour. They were laid carefully in quarter brick offsets in mainly English bond or English cross-bond, to form a chequered diaper pattern within the predominantly orange-red brickwork. Tudor bricks were typically irregular in size and shape and therefore thick (15–25mm) mortar joints were necessary to even these out. The slow setting mortar was usually of matured quick lime (often containing particles of the fuel used in its production) and sand slaked together to yield a lime-rich ratio varying from 1:1-1:1.5, the joints being finished flush from the laying trowel, or profiled with a ‘struck’ or ‘double-struck’ profile. The facades typically finished with a colour wash of red ochre called ‘raddle’, with the joints picked out to a lesser scale, and a distemper applied with a thin brush in a process called ‘pencilling’. With the building of Hampton Court Palace we have not only the seal of royal approval, but a monument to the achievement of brick in this period. DUTCH INFLUENCE IN THE 17TH CENTURY The use of brick dramatically increased following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The court of Charles II brought new fashions from the Low Countries, including a taste for orange-red brick architecture in particular. Once a prestigious material used by the wealthy for their castles and large mansions, brick became more affordable as production increased, and was increasingly common particularly in the capital city. There brick clay was cheaper and more accessible than building stone, and following the Great Fire of London in 1666, timber-framed construction was no longer acceptable in towns and cities. The Cow Tower (1398–9) part of the fortifications of Norwich and one of the earliest surviving brick buildings in the UK: its bricks are irregular in shape and colour, reflecting the rudimentary nature of the manufacturing processes Tudor chevron-patterned brickwork and spiral chimneys at Layer Marney Tower (commenced 1520), Essex: the bricks are less irregular than those of the Cow Tower and the building includes some fine terracotta ornament.