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Friday, 19 January 2018

Listing flint walling as local heritage assets: part two

Sidmouth is pretty well endowed with flint walls - many of which have Grade II protection:
Garden Wall of No 21 Bridge House, Sidmouth, Devon - British Listed Buildings
Garden Wall of Barrington Villa, Sidmouth, Devon - British Listed Buildings

Here is another flint wall - on Manor Road - but it is covered by no protection at all: 



Harrison-Lavers & Potbury's

Such heritage assets might well end up being given some protection:
Futures Forum: Listing flint walling as local heritage assets

The 'local listing' process is proving very slow, with promises that things will be going to the District Council 'in the spring' this year:

Officers are "preparing a heritage strategy for East Devon and ... the first draft will be out to consultation during Spring 2018. 

"The strategy will set out proposals for a formal local list of assets that is recognised by the Council, working with communities to establish, update and review such a list."

Back in January 2015, the SVA carried out its own consultation asking for suggestions for the listing of local heritage assets - and this was one such proposal:

"I would like to nominate the flint walls of Sidmouth to be preserved. There are many fine flint constructed walls with a lime and mortar bonding, which give an attractive look to Sidmouth and add much character to the town. Unfortunately many of these walls have been lost as they are expensive to repair, and it is easier and cheaper to replace them with brick or block walls. Many of these walls have also been repaired incorrectly (as in Manor Road) with modern cement and often the wrong coloured sand, using Exeter red sand instead of Branscombe/Wilmington or similar honey coloured sand.

"We have just lost one of these walls this week as Magnolia Cottage has just pulled down their flint wall and is replacing it with a block construction which will probably be rendered. This wall is in a conservation area but when I brought this to the attention of EDDC I was informed nothing could be done about it. In the Council’s words “These works are deemed to be permitted development and do not require a formal application for planning permission”. I surmise from this that all the flint walls in the town could be demolished with impunity."

What makes the Sid Valley special? | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald
Futures Forum: "What's important to our local heritage?"... The Sid Vale Association's "local heritage assets project" asks for nominations

Meanwhile, here is an excellent homage to pebble and flint construction in Sidmouth and East Devon:

Pebble Buildings, East Devon

Whilst researching local materials used in construction and decoration of old buildings, I came across some information about the use of pebbles, a very local supply of material from the Pebble Bed Heathlands in East Devon. The area, between the Exe estuary and the River Otter, is one of the largest lowland heathlands in Britain and is significant for its archaeology and history, especially pertaining to it's prehistoric past. It has long been the source of building materials along with the more readily available pebble beaches in the area.
Having previously taken a couple of photos of Pebblestone Cottage in Sidmouth whilst walking around town (above and below), it gave me an idea for a new project! My mission...should I accept it...is to find more buildings using pebbles in their structure and to document them. ;)
Pebblestone Cottage is a Grade II listed building, originally two cottages built circa 1820, and was probably a toll house. The size and shape certainly fits the criteria of a toll house, as does the time it was built for the Honiton-Sidmouth Turnpike; situated at the corner of a junction with entrances on both sides. A delightfully unusual little building, the red brick dressings and quoins contrast quite sharply with the soft grey pebble walls, which adds to its quirkiness, along with the hipped, almost circular, slate roof and funky little chimneys.
Another walkabout around Sidmouth led to this wonderful wall (above and below) in one of the little alleys between buildings. During research I found that the house itself, Beach House, is another listed building, and looks quite different from the front. However, it's only at the rear where pebbles have been used as surface decoration on top of the flint and rubble wall. Flint can be seen on the raised surround of the gate entrance and has also been used decoratively upon the tops of the wall crenellations.
The colour differences between pebbles is dependant upon where they occur in the landscape. The stones in the wall above are a mixture, whereas those used on Pebblestone Cottage are all of the same hue. Although now illegal, pebbles were once often taken from the beach, although they also came from gravel & pebble pits, streams and river beds, as well as quarries. 
Another entrance in the wall further along shows the use of pebbles as edging, which interestingly also bonds with the brick alongside it...possibly an adjacent wall between Beach House and the next property.
One of the more obvious erstwhile uses for pebbles was that of street and path surfacing. The photo below was taken outside the Georgian Assizes (within Exeters Rougemont Castle walls), where pebbles have been used decoratively. It is here that we can see the use of two different naturally occurring colours; white stones laid in diamond shapes, surrounded by black ones laid in the opposite direction...with the odd interloper!
One of the villages in the pebble bed area is Newton Poppleford. Popple is an old Devon word for pebble...you can see where I'm going with this, can't you! ;) ...and it's original meaning is new town built by a pebble stream.
These two photos are of St Luke's church in Newton Poppleford. As can be seen in the photo above, pebbles are a part of the flint rubble wall, especially near the roof edging. Below is a clearer photo of the wall surrounding the doorway. During my research I discovered that there are many examples of pebbles in the village, therefore I'll be making another visit there soon to see what I can find. The page for St Luke's, with more photos and further information, can be seen here.
The next building is similar to some of the other examples where pebbles have been used in the construction of the walls instead of flint rubble...both of which are used extensively in the vernacular buildings of East Devon coastal towns.
This was a boat house situated above the old lime kilns near to Jacob's Ladder beach in Sidmouth. There was no access to the sea from the cliffs then, therefore boats had to be raised or lowered using a pulley system. It's now a cafe (and a very good one too) and part of the fabulous Connaught Gardens situated on top of the cliff. I'll be adding a page about the Jacob's Ladder area at some point, and will add a link here when I do.
I'll be adding to this page with new photos and information when I have more examples of pebble buildings and the decorative use of pebbles. There's also a ton of research to go through regarding the geology and other pebbly facts, so I'll add some other bits later on.
Meanwhile, these and some other photos can be viewed in the Photo Gallery album.

Past Remains - Pebble Buildings
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