Understanding Vernacular Buildings

Thursday 20 June 2019

9.30 – 5pm

The course

A day school on vernacular buildings in general, materials, and the timber- framed tradition of the Marches in comparison to the South – East Region. In the afternoon we will discuss the challenge of living in a timber- framed house from the owner’s perspective, tips on energy efficiency and how to lower your building’s carbon footprint.

The tutors

Harriet Devlin has been involved with studying and rescuing vernacular buildings for decades. She has worked on timber buildings in Norway, Eastern Europe and the UK, and undertook a large project in Northern Ireland to reuse derelict vernacular buildings which received a Europa Nostra Award. Harriet currently runs a postgraduate course in Conservation of the Historic Environment at Birmingham City University and leads practical conservation courses on the use of lime in historic construction as well as the understanding of traditional building materials such as timber and brick.

She lives in a timber framed house in Shropshire and is a passionate advocate of ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ and preventative maintenance, with much experience gained from the rehabilitation of her own house! Harriet was awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to the Historic Environment and conservation.


Duncan James has been recording and analysing buildings over the last 20 years in Herefordshire and the surrounding counties, specialising in timber-framed structures.

He has worked on Lottery funded projects linked to tree-ring dating of houses in Pembridge, Weobley, Whitbourne, Eardisley and Abberley in which whole groups of structures in single settlements were investigated, some in great detail. Similar projects (without tree-ring dating) have been carried out in Bromyard and Ledbury. Reports have also been prepared for the Victoria County History concerning buildings in Ledbury and in northern parishes of Gloucestershire.

‘Insight – Historic Buildings Research’ was established in 2002 as a partnership with his wife, Alison. Much of the work involves recording and analysis of listed buildings in advance of planning applications. Duncan is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians and The Vernacular Architecture Group and is on the Committee of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club of Herefordshire.

Currently working on a book drawing together the research on Herefordshire timber-framed buildings – due for publication in 2018.

Publications include A Century of Statues – A History of the Morris Singer Foundry (1984); an essay on Nineteenth Century statue founding techniques for the catalogue of the Alfred Gilbert Exhibition at the Royal Academy (1986); Old Jewellery, (Shire 1989) revised and enlarged edition as Antique Jewellery (Shire 1998 & 2008); and Old Typewriters, (Shire 1993).

Participant information

Participants might wish to bring a notepad or paper.

Fee and refreshments

£90 per person, to include tuition, teas and coffees. Please let the Museum know in advance if you have any dietary requirements.


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