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Mud and stud… An Introduction.

11 Facts
Do's and Don'ts

“Mud and Stud is a technique of timber-framed construction that is almost exclusively found in Lincolnshire.”

 - Rodney Cousins. (2000)

 "Mud and Stud (or M & S as it will henceforth be termed), like wattle and daub,Timber frame uses a timber framework. Although it is sometimes confused with wattle and daub, M & S differs in that the timber frame is reinforced by nailed, vertical, riven laths which in turn support the mud mix.  M & S is more economical with materials than most other traditions - using an inner frame allows walls only about 25cm thick, as against walls about 60cm thick, and more, for cob construction methods.

The M & S framework, including the roof timbers, is usually of oak in earlier ( pre - 18th century) examples. Later, with higher costs and growing scarcity, oak was gradually replaced by more economical pine, imported from the Baltic. Port records for Boston and Kings Lynn confirm regular shipments and building accounts sometimes refer to ‘Baltic’ pine. 

   Creating daub mixture for buildingThe timber frame consists of a series of wall posts, called studs, placed at approximately 2m intervals, although this varies according to the requirements of window and door openings. There are usually a couple of horizontal rails to stabilise the wall posts and a fairly substantial wall plate over the top. The arrangement of braces varies, but they are usually found on both faces of each corner wall post and sometimes mid-way along the façade.

The laths are mostly of ash, but other timbers were used. It usually needs two laths (one above the other) to span the full height of the wall and the laths can be up to four high at the gable ends. Overlapping laths often share the same nail for fastening to the frame. A low plinth of stone or brick, about 50cm high, reinforces the wall posts and provides protection from splash erosion at the base of the wall.

The wall of mud is basically a daub, consisting of earth mixed with chopped straw and water, applied in a stiff consistency in gradual stages (lifts). The mud covers all the framework on the outside and usually all but the wall posts and an occasional brace on the inside face. A lime wash, devoid of colouring, but with an animal fat or linseed oil additive to provide a waterproof coating, was given to the exterior.  This was a process repeated at least bi-annually, depending on wear and location.

 BeesbyMost M & S buildings are cottages with simple plans: a lobby entry faces a central chimney stack with a main room either side (perhaps giving the true meaning of central heating). Access to the upper rooms was usually via a ladder, a number of which still survive. The upper rooms are often entirely within the roof space except for perhaps an approximate height of 50cm of wall scrounged from the ground floor. Roof covering was traditionally thatch, either in straw or reed depending on availability. Windows were of the Yorkshire (horizontal sliding sash) type and doors simply planked.

It is likely that over a thousand M & S structures survived into the 20th century (to date I have listed over 800) but persecution by over-zealous landowners, neglect and the stigma that ’Mud is primitive’ has led to the demolition of many of them. However, a significant proportion survive, and all but a handful of owners are well aware that the qualities of mud and stud far outweigh the outdated view that earth is a building material of the past. Indeed, with its high insulation qualities, low cost, low transportation needs and its individuality, many countries now regard it as a building material for the future. It is a highly sustainable and truly ‘green’ resource.”

- Rodney Cousins (Quoted from ’Lincolnshire Buildings in the Mud and Stud Tradition’ 2000 Published by Heritage Lincolnshire.) 

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