Museum News

Wattle and Daub

Half Daub

Wattle and Daub is a building method that has been used for thousands of years to create walls and fences, and sometimes entire structures.

Flaking 1Wattle and daub was a much used material for panel in-filling of timber framed buildings. The exact wood used for the wattle and the mix which was daubed over it to keep the wind and weather out were dependent on the materials available.Daub One Side

In many medieval timber framed buildings, the walls gain their character from the timber frame which forms the load bearing structure of the building, with the open areas between the timbers needing to be filled to keep the weather out. Wattle and daub is one of the most common infills, which is then plastered and painted. It is an arrangement of small timbers (wattle) that forms a main support for the mud plaster (daub) to be applied to.

Wattle ReadyThe wattle normally consists of timbers which are fixed (staves) and timbers which are woven through (withies) to form the structure. The daub mixture, made up of mud, dung, water and straw, is then applied to the wattle in small balls. This is applied to both sides which is then pressed into and around the wattle to form a homogenous mass. As the daub dries, it is often keyed by scratching the surface. Once the daub has dried and hardened, the surface is then dampened to receive a lime plaster covering.Wattle Panel 1

Wattle and daub is not the most rigid material, so it is able to accommodate structural movement.

Not all timber framed buildings were plastered over, it was normal practice to limewash the wattle and daub panels. This would be carried out each spring, not only to repair the building by infilling cracks, but this also helped with hygiene as fresh limewash acts as a mild disinfectant.

Shaped DaubThere are many examples of wattle and daub panels at the Museum, some are historic, having been saved from the original buildings and re-fitted and some have been replicated as replacement panels.Flaking

The Museum carries out conservation work to our many historical buildings on site, which includes several examples of medieval timber frame buildings. The medieval house from North Cray had repairs to its panels back in 2021/22. We have recently been carrying out repairs to the internal walls in Bayleaf Farmhouse and will soon be working on Pendean Farmhouse.

Action DaubThe Museum offers Wattle and Daub courses as part of its extensive heritage craft programme. This gives students the opportunity to view examples in a selection of the historic houses at the Museum and other samples in the artefact store, followed by a practical hands-on session, and a lecture on the appraisal and techniques of repair. Click here for more information.