What Is A Close Studding In Construction?

What Is A Close Studding In Construction?

What Is A Close Studding In Construction?

Close studding is a decorative timber work method used in timber-framed buildings in which vertical timbers, called studs, are set closely together, dividing the wall into narrow panels. Its primary purpose is to create an impressive appearance.

It first appeared in England in the 13th century and became commonly used there from the mid-15th century until the end of the 17th century, also common in France from 15th century. Close studding requires diagonal bracing for stability and is often painted to enhance the pattern.

The technique was commonly used in public and private buildings of high status, such as guildhalls, market halls, churches and inns.

Due to its heavy timber consumption, it was considered an extravagant status symbol but fell out of use towards the end of the 17th century due to a reduced supply of domestic hardwood and competition for timber.

History Of Close Studding

Close studding is a method of constructing timber-framed buildings in which the frame is filled with small, closely spaced vertical planks, rather than the large panels used in square framing.

The technique is believed to have originated in East Anglia, England in the early 13th century, and became popular in the 15th century during the Perpendicular architectural style. It was widely used in England until the end of the 17th century, and was also used in France, particularly in Normandy.

Close studding was time-consuming and used a lot of timber, so it was mostly used for buildings of high status, such as guildhalls, churches and townhouses of the wealthy.

However, its extravagance led to it being faked with paint or cosmetic planking, and the heavy timber consumption led to its decline by the end of the 17th century.

Variations In Close Studding Building

The use of middle rails in building construction varied across regions in England, with them being more commonly used in the midlands and less so in the east and southeast.

There was also variation in the use of bracing, with some older close-studded buildings using exterior arch or tension bracing, but later examples typically having interior bracing that was hidden by plaster panelling.

Close studding was sometimes combined with decorative paneling in later buildings, with the lower floors using close studding and upper floors using small square panels. Some buildings also used herringbone or chevron bracing between the uprights for an ornamental effect.

Examples Of Close Studding

Here are some examples of buildings that use the close studding technique:

Church of St James and St Paul in Marton, Cheshire features close studding with a middle rail, dating back to 1370.

St Michael’s Church in Baddiley, Cheshire has close studding without a middle rail, with later brick infill, built in 1308.

St Michael and All Angels Church in Altcar, West Lancashire, mostly close studded with a middle rail, built in 1879.

St Peter’s Church in Melverley, Shropshire, has close studding with a middle rail from the late 15th century.

Bear’s Head Hotel in Brereton, Cheshire, has close studding with two rails, built in 1615.

Café ‘Cave St-Vincent’ in Compiegne, France, has close studding with braces on upper storey over brick ground floor with stone trimming and dates back 15th century.

Crown Hotel in Nantwich, Cheshire, has close studding on all three storeys with a middle rail, built around 1584.

String of Horses Inn originally at Frankwell, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, now at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, has close studding with a middle rail on both ground and first storeys, built in 1576.

White Lion, Congleton, Cheshire, has lower storey close studding with decorative panelling above, built early 16th century.

The Falcon in Chester, Cheshire, a former town house now a public house, has close studding on its east front at the level of the Chester Rows.

Chantry House, Bunbury, Cheshire, has very close studding, with tension braces and arch bracing and no middle rail, built in 1527.

Gawsworth Old Rectory, Gawsworth, Cheshire, has close studding with middle rail and arch bracing, built late 16th century.

Greyfriars, Worcester, Worcestershire, has close studding with middle rail to both storeys, built c.1480–1500.

Mancetter Manor, Mancetter, Warwickshire, has close studding with plaster infill, built c. 1330.

Moat Farm, Longdon, Worcestershire, has close studding with middle rail on ground floor; upper floor mixes square framing and decorative panelling.

Moss Hall, Audlem, Cheshire, has close studding with middle rails to each storey, with no decorative panelling.

Paycocke’s, Coggeshall, Essex, main elevation has close studding on both storeys, with a middle rail on the ground floor, built around 1500.

Booth Hall or Round House, Evesham, Worcestershire, has close studding with middle rail on all three storeys, built late 15th century

Dragon Hall, Norwich, Norfolk, has close studding without middle rail to first floor, over brick and flint ground floor, built 14th century.

Guildhall, Lavenham, Suffolk, has close studding to all storeys, with tension braces and no middle rail, built early 16th century

Moot Hall, Fordwich, Kent, has close-studded overhanging first storey with brick or plaster infill and no middle rail, rebuilt later with brick and flint on ground floor, built early 15th century.

Town residence, Albi, France, has close studding on three storeys, built 16th century.

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