Wattle & Daub: Craft, Conservation & Wiltshire Case Study
3.6 Daub
4.1 Soils
4.1.3 Strength
4.2 Dung
4.2.2 Lignin
4.2.3 Urine
4.3 Fibre
5.4.2 Renewal

Title Page Previous Next | Conservation >The Value of Wattle and Daub

5.1 The Value of Wattle and Daub

The historic value of a building is often realised not only by recognition of its architectural style, but also the superimposed effects of patina and decay, manifested as an ‘age-value’.[76] Wattle and daub may emanate this value by way of its cracked and undulating surface, partial decay that exposes its underlying core of withies or by way of its soft limewashed finish. This lies in stark contrast to the flatness of a cement rendered panel, producing a lifelessness that appears disturbingly rigid within the flowing distortions, grain and shakes of the enclosing timbers.

UK legislation serves to protect these values as part of the ‘special character’ of listed buildings, yet much damage is still done through insensitive repair by contractors and owners. Unfortunately, many conservation architects and surveyors (and perhaps a proportion of conservation officers) also fail to appreciate the contribution made by wattle and daub to the special character and so share the blame through their inappropriate specifications of work. It is therefore important that government guidance should be adhered to, stating that, [77]
‘traditional fixing and repair methods should be perpetuated. Proper attention should be given to the in-filling panels which are an integral part of any timber-framed building’.

[76] Ruskin (1880), pp.189-190 describes how age-value thrives on historic decay through his definition of the picturesque as ‘parasitical sublimity’.
[77] Planning Policy Guidance Note PPG-15, paragraph C.16.