Thursday, 20 July 2017

EBUKI Clayfest Photographs page

Our EBUKI Clayfest photographs page is now up and running!
Have a look at what we got up to!

Saturday, 15 July 2017


Hi all,

Our next meeting will be held at Thimbleby Village Hall, Thimbleby,

On: Monday 24th July 2017

At: 7pm onwards.


From Lincoln side of Horncastle on the A158 take the B1190 signposed for Thimbleby for 1 mile. The village hall is the first building past the church nestled between the mud and studs.
Postcode LN9 5RE

There will be a short walk around the village followed by a meeting in the hall.


Report on the Clayfest.

Report on the 'New build project' at the Village Museum.

Potential workshop at the Heritage Skills Centre, Lincoln Castle over the Heritage Open Days weekend in September.

Tumby workshop for students and/or public.

Survey and information leaflets for mud and stud owners and local authorities.

Annual meeting and lecture at Lincoln University.

Involvement in formation of new natural building group.

Events for 2018.

If anyone has anything they would like to be discussed please let me know before the meeting to include it on the agenda.

Trevor Oliver

Report on the EBUKI Clayfest



Clayfest was this year's festival of building with unfired clay, which which took place at the Heritage Skills Centre in the grounds of Lincoln Castle between Monday 12th and Saturday 17th June 2017. It was a demonstration of traditional building techniques which could be brought up-to-date for use in the 21stcentury.

The event was organised by the national group Earth Building in the United Kingdom and Ireland (EBUKI) with the help of the local group East Midlands Earth Structures Society (EMESS). This was the sixth annual national event which EBUKI have organised. They have followed the principle of holding the events in different parts of the British Isles noted for their particular local traditions of earth building techniques. Last year's event was in Cumberland, and next year's will be in Ireland. EMESS has a number of different local building techniques, but by far the greatest number are of the mud-and-stud method. They are mostly in Lincolnshire, in the East Lindsey District Council area, and with the village of Mareham-le-Fen having the greatest concentration.


The week of Monday to Thursday contained various building courses using clay, lead by professionals, with delegates learning about the various techniques.

Rammed earth was used to form the base and fire compartment of an oven, using temporary timber shuttering into which the earth was compacted. Clay blocks using mud mortar were built over that to form the oven itself and its chimney.

A portable timber framework of walls and a roof formed the basis for mud-and-stud construction, using the usual clay-and-straw mix, and this was partly finished with mud plaster.

Clay plastering took place on a number of different wooden supporting frameworks which had different traditional backing materials such as laths or reeds fixed over them.

Unfired clay blocks were used on a temporary wooden framework to form part of a domed construction.

A tent-like framework of saplings was constructed to form a temporary shelter called a bender such as would have been used by charcoal-burners or shepherds. This one had straw-bales to form sleeping platforms, with walls covered in mud daub.

Unfired clay blocks were used to form what could have been a simple circular garden structure, where the bond between the blocks was obtained simply by wetting the blocks.

On a stone wall which used mud mortar, cob construction took place. With the use of timber formers, two circular windows were built, one using bent timber for reinforcement, and the other using an arch of clay blocks.

All the people on the courses learnt a great deal from these hands-on experiences, and through talking to the course leaders.


To give a focus on the local building technique, the symposium which ran throughout the Thursday, was on the subject of mud-and-stud construction, using the experiences of different speakers.

Naomi Field, an archaeologist started the day with a talk entitled “Lincolnshire Mud-and-Stud : Sorting the Fact from the Fantasy”. 30 years before, she had surveyed the Withern Cottage when it was still in that village, before it was rebuilt in The Village, Skegness. She is now carrying out more detailed surveys of the timber structures of cottages, and thereby finding re-used timbers, a greater variety of plan forms than had been known, etc. She will be organising a conference at the end of January 2018 to discuss these matters.

Rob Ley, a mud mason, gave his “Experiences and Observations of Working on Historic Mud-and-Studs”. Rob had also been demonstrating the techniques he had learnt and refined, by leading the course on building the mud-and-stud demonstration building. He showed photos of how he was constructing new mud-and-stud buildings in the wood where he works, which have planning permission but do not need building regulations permission as they are not habitable. He prepares all his materials by hand in the traditional way, eg hewing main timbers with a side axe. His buildings were to be on the tour of Lincolnshire on the Saturday.

After a coffee break, Kathryn Banfield of Heritage Lincolnshire talked about “Mud-and-Stud at Risk: Long Term Solutions”. She is a former manager of the Heritage Skills Centre but now, through Heritage Lincolnshire, tries to find financial help for people and organisations who have buildings which are at risk. She illustrated the cottage at Little Steeping which her organisation repaired and rented out as a fund-raiser. Her expertise could be valuable for the construction of the new building at The Village, in Skegness.

After the inevitable discussions over the lunch break, Dr Marcin Kolakowski, of the School of Architecture, Lincoln illustrated the Hexagonium experimental building. This collaboration between university students and a local builder resulted in the construction of a timber-framed building which was weather-proofed with a variety of different earth panels. The thermal insulation of each of these new panels would be tested as an extension to the research paper for Terra 2016, which assessed the insulation of existing mud-and-stud walls. After the symposium, a number of delegates walked down to look at the building.

Brian Hayes-Lewin of the National Trust then described the on-going investigations of a not very typical mud-and-stud cottage on the Gunby Estate, owned and managed by the Trust. There appeared to be a mud cottage in there, but it had been much disguised by later alterations. The problem was therefore what had been there originally; of the later additions, what should be kept; and how should the building be put back into use to maintain its future.

Afternoon tea was followed by your reporter David Glew, on Solutions to Thermal Insulation of new mud-and-stud buildings. New construction can comply with planning and building regulations except for the standard of thermal insulation. That is a problem in a cool climate like the UK and so far only compromise solutions have been found, which David illustrated. What needs to be found is the wonder additive to the mud mix to improve its thermal insulation.

Following the discussion, it was apparent that each of these talks was relevant to the maintenance of the future of existing and new mud-and-stud buildings.


This part of the event took up the Friday, and used the theme of “Building Bridges” to widen the theme of the symposium to the whole field of earthen construction.

Rowland Keable addressed the problem of building bridges, by considering the improved marketing of the materials and building techniques. He talked about how to change the public's perception of building with earth, through better communications.

Maria Saez-Martinez talked about the historic record of earth building in Scotland. She referred to the analysis and documentation of this information, and gave an overview of the information in Bruce Walker's collection.

After morning coffee Dr Wendy Matthews used her research into ancient earthen buildings to connect information on their construction to the way we build in earth now, and how we could build with earth in the future.

Dr Dan Maskell considered how the ancient, but universal, material of clay could be used as an innovative material for future construction. Modern knowledge could put an old material to new uses.

Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe has become concerned at the increasing levels of background radiation which have become part of modern life, through the use of digital equipment. She showed how this could be reduced by screening, including the use of earthen walls.

After a discussion and lunch, Louise Halestrap described how earth could become a conventional building material. Fired clay is common in the developed world, and unfired clay in the undeveloped world, but it would be in its unfired state that earth could have greater use.

Peter Coch's talk then showed how earth construction in Slovakia had taken place in the past, and how earth was being used in the present. In several of these papers, an old material was being used in a new and more sophisticated way.

Continuing this theme, William Stanwix spoke about the development of light-earth materials for use in the UK. Reducing weight, increasing thermal insulation, and making materials available, are all part of encouraging the greater use of earth.

Following afternoon tea, Dr Fidelma Mullane took us to Ireland. From there she illustrated the use of tempered clay in construction. Perhaps she will attend Clayfest in Ireland in 2018.

Finally, Franz Volhard brought proceedings to a close with his key-note address, and returning to the subject of light-earth building. This will be one of the main ways forward.

As a result of the discussion, and this wider range of papers, it was apparent there is a larger frame-work for the future of earth building, and the local mud-and-stud tradition could become part of that future.


For the sake of completeness, here are the buildings which the delegates visited on their tour around the County on the Saturday :

Ailby Ash Holt – new mud-and-stud working buildings.

Ivy Cottage – the National Trust's problematic existing cottage.

Whitegates Cottage – a renovated and occupied existing mud-and-stud cottage.

Withern Cottage – a reconstructed mud-and-stud cottage located in a museum of old buildings.

Greetham Farmhouse – the largest existing mud-and-stud residential building, with an aisled hall.

Thimbleby Village – various mud-and-stud and thatched cottages within a village street.

Photographs of the clayfest will be found on our clayfest photos page in the next few days!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


This Saturday we are holding out annual general meeting along with workshops at:

Tumby Barn
High House Farm,
Tumby Moorside nr. Coningsby
PE22 7RX

Workshops begin at 10am, Don't forget your wellies and packed lunch!

Beware: any member who does not appear may be subsequently volunteered a role as secretary or cleaner.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


The next EMESS event will be followed by the Annual General Meeting.

The next meeting will be at:

Tumby Barn

Saturday 25th March 2017,
with workshops starting at 10am and the AGM starting at 3pm.

There will be lots to do on the barn, including mudding and limewashing.

Bring your wellies and wear old clothes to work in.

Tea and coffee will be available, but no food, so bring a packed lunch.

There are welfare facilities on site.

Agenda will follow for the AGM via email.

Any queries please contact Trevor via the contacts at the bottom of the blog.

Friday, 4 November 2016


Sunday 13th November 1pm. Village Museum, Skegness.

We are meeting at the museum to make a start with collating the archives. There is lots of information and hundreds of photos to sort through. Anyone willing to help just turn up on the day. For more information feel free to email or call me on 07801065291

Saturday 10th December 2pm. Meeting; Village Museum, Skegness.

2-2.30 pm. Guided tour of Withern Cottage.

2.30-3 pm  Tour around museum.

3 pm. Committee meeting.  [ Agenda to follow ]

June 12th - 17th 2017 EBUKI [Earth Building UK & Ireland] / EMESS Clayfest.

EBUKI has run a number of successful Clayfest events in Scotland, Ireland and Cumbria.
The proposed programme is four days of workshops at the Heritage Skills Centre, Lincoln Castle, followed by a conference at Lincoln University and on Saturday 17th a tour of earth buildings, with a focus on mud and stud.
The event will be truly international with demonstrators and speakers from all over Europe.
EMESS will be running workshops in the Castle grounds where we will hope to build a scaled down mud and stud.
The main focus of the event will be mud and stud which will help in raising awareness. If you would like to take part in any capacity please turn up to our next meeting on 10th December or contact me direct.


October meeting.
The meeting was held at Hill Holt Wood with a fascinating demonstration on building with earth followed by a talk about the rammed earth building at Hill Holt, both by Professor Rowland Keable. Afterwards members had a short tour of the woods and traveled to the university to see progress on the Hexagonium.

Hill Holt Wood Meeting

New build project.
The project to build a new mud and stud at the Village Museum in Skegness is progressing well. 
It was decided to construct an experimental building at Lincoln University to enable thermal testing of various materials, wall thickness's and methods of construction. Students have constructed a six sided building, the 'Hexagonium', with 14 different panels that will be tested for u/values once the mud has dried. The tests will be carried out during the next 12 months with more experiments being conducted as a result of the construction.
 Hexagonium Photos

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Rodney's book

Hi all,

On eBay there are two copies of Rodney's book 'Lincolnshire building in the Mud and Stud tradition' that are currently for sale. It is a great book to read and to own considering there are only a few copies that were printed. The links are below:

They are priced at around £13.00.

Hope to see you all this Saturday for our meeting at hill holt wood,