Distribution Of Mediaeval Roof Types
The map illustrates that the Surrey vernacular has a split personality when it comes to mediaeval roof types. To the west, in Hampshire, there remained a strong tradition of side purlin roofs continuing from the earlier cruck tradition, to the east was Kent with its long tradition of fine crown post roofs and elaborate display in the open hall. Surrey was the battleground of these two traditions. The dominance of crown posts in the Guildford and Shere area where clasped purlins might be expected may result from the greater personal wealth of houseowners, and their preference for the more elaborate, and presumably more expensive, roof form. More study is required on this point.
Other forms of mediaeval roofs include coupled rafter roofs and butt purlin roofs, mentioned above, and scissor brace roofs and cruck roofs, for details of which the reader should refer to the reading list. Coupled rafter roofs (43 examples) occur mainly in the south of the County, butt purlin roofs (5 examples) and crucks (4 examples including some in Hampshire) are limited to the extreme west of the County. It is not possible to generalise about the distribution of scissor brace roofs as only two examples have been recorded.
Martin Higgins, January 1991
©DBRG 12th June 2006