Glorious Mud! An introduction to earth buildings

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is running a 2 day course in Slawston, Leicestershire on the 30th of April and 1st of May on earth buildings, including talks and hands-on repairs of an earth walled stable block.


You can book 1 or 2 days, or just the evening lecture on the 30th. More info below. LESSBIG will be there and we look forward to writing it up afterwards!

From the press release:

Unbaked earth is one of the oldest and most basic building materials. In Spring 2014, The SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) will be running a unique hands-on introduction to the glories of mud. The two days (bookable individually or together) will include expert lectures and the opportunity to put principles into practice at an earth-walled stable block in the beautiful Leicestershire village of Slawston.

The event will not only cover the construction, character and repair of earth-walled buildings in the East Midlands, but will also consider international approaches and methods. It is intended to appeal equally to those who are new to the subject and those seeking to improve their technique.

Mud continues to be used a building material around the world. Closer to home it was used traditionally in many parts of the UK including rural parts of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire where significant clusters of earth or ‘clay’ buildings were erected – primarily, but not exclusively, for agricultural purposes.

With their sturdy, load-bearing walls, usually constructed from earth excavated close to the site, these structures could be built by tradesmen or local workers using simple tools. Surviving examples of small farmhouses, labourers’ cottages, farm and utility buildings and boundary walls provide a glimpse of a once strong vernacular tradition which is now in decline.

Today earth buildings are at risk through neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate repair work and demolition. Their character and significance is often overlooked or under-appreciated. There is a lack of understanding of these distinctive, but aesthetically modest structures although their contribution to the built heritage and social history of a region and its farming communities is as important as the more architecturally distinguished buildings with which they are often associated.

The remaining mud buildings of the East Midlands are in decline despite the best efforts of the dedicated professionals able to perform repairs and of their owners who appreciate the significance of the small piece of built social history in their care.

See the event page here for more information and to book.

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