Charcoal burn - putting out

A charcoal burn at the Museum

As part of the Historic Life weekend: Wood Craft and Uses we will have a charcoal burn at the Museum. The process starts well in advance of the weekend, with wood being felled and sorted for the burn and scything of grass to top the clamp.

Led by Rural Life Interpreter, Jon Roberts, a small team coppice our woodland for a number of uses on the Museum site. Uses include firewood for the historic houses, fuel for the Tudor bread oven and Newdigate bakehouse. In addition, sufficient for the charcoal burn needs to be put aside for this June weekend.

The burn takes place over three days; on the Friday the clamp is built. Then it is lit on Saturday morning and from this point it must be tended until it is all cooked. This normally takes place by Sunday evening. Then it must cool, and opened on the Monday. Hopefully then it will reveal a good yield of charcoal for use in the forge and elsewhere on site.

About charcoal burns

The charcoal burners’ camp in our woodyard was one of the original exhibits when the Museum first opened in 1970. Charcoal burning was the first rural trade to be demonstrated. This was only possible thanks to the assistance of Mr & Mrs Arthur Langridge. The Langridges had made charcoal using traditional earth covered clamps until 1948 and advised the Museum on the camp’s reconstruction.

We would like to thank everyone who helps in our charcoal burns. Presenting an earth burn to our visitors requires a large commitment in both time and dirty, heavy labour! Those woodcolliers, like the Langridges, who did this commercially through the centuries, have our greatest respect.

We hope you can join us on 15 or 16 June to find out more.
For further information also see the European Charcoal Burners Association