Previous Index Next
Page 151
(previous) (Page 000151) (next)
 
x] WALLS 137

removing bread from the oven. The first layer of cob was built
2.}- ft. high all round the foundation and the walls themselves were
2 ft. thick. The stuff was used as wet and soft as ordinary mortar,
and after a week or so, according to the dampness or dryness of the
atmosphere, allowed for the layer to consolidate, another layer was
put on, and so on until the work was finished, two years being
required for a two storied house if it were to be properly done. In
Devonshire each course was known as a ‘raise.’ When building a
cob wall one of the workmen stood on the wall to tread it down,
and the woodwork, such as the lintels of doors and cupboards, was
fixed in as the work went along. The walls had a tendency to crack,
especially at the corners, and they were generally rounded to avoid
this: but this rounding of the corners may have had its origin in
early circular or oblong buildings, and been retained for practical
purposes. The cob also scaled off and bulged when the whitewash
or plaster with which it was usually coated became decayed, and
thus some Devon villages had an extremely dilapidated appearance
a century ago. Charles Vancouver, the writer of the Devon volume
in the General View, published in the year 1813, complained that
it was impossible to distinguish a village of cob from a bean field,
and he noticed with pleasure many rough cast and whitewashed cob
cottages in the neighbourhood of Exeter‘. It was an age impelled
to utilitarianism by grim and insistent necessity, and the fitness of
the building for the landscape did not appeal to the writer.

Where there was chalk, as in parts of Dorset, it was ground up
with the cob to its improvement. Chalk was easily obtainable in
Hampshire, and in the year 1810, according to Charles Vancouver”,
the cob there was composed of three parts of chalk and one of
clay, well kneaded and mixed together with straw. Where the
chalk was not easily obtainable it was only used for the rough cast
or the finishing coat, after being ground in a circular trough. In
sandy and heathy districts of Dorset, loam, gravel and sand were
used, and heath was used as a binding material instead of straw,
but such cob was not as durable as that composed of chalk". In
Cornwall cob was composed of two loads of clay to one load of
shilf, that is broken slate in small pieces such as is used for
mending roads, barley straw was added afterwards. Each ‘ raise ’
was diminished in height.

1 p. 26. 2 General View qft/ze Agriculture qf [lamps/tire, p. 67.
3 General View of the Agriculture qf tlze County of Dorret, p. 86.

Previous Index Next