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The Crin­kle-Cran­kle Walls of Suffolk

A crin­kle-cran­kle wall is an unusual type of garden wall found in the East Anglia region of east England, but popular mostly in the county of Suffolk.

A crin­kle-cran­kle wall is wavy with al­ter­nating con­vex and con­cave curves like a sinusoid. While this might seem like an unnecessary wastage of bricks, it actually is not. A straight wall requires buttresses in order to make it stand, which can either be provided by a wide footing or supporting posts every few meters. But when the wall is made curvy, the sin­u­ous shape prevents the wall from toppling over with­out the need for but­tress­ing even if the wall is only one brick thin.

Crinkle-Crankle Walls

A Crinkle crankle wall. Photo credit: Esther Simpson/Flickr

The first walls started ap­pear­ing in East Anglia in the 17th cen­tury, when Dutch en­gi­neers were drain­ing the marshes of the fen country and brick-based ar­chi­tec­ture was be­com­ing fash­ion­able. These high walls were par­tic­u­larly well suited to the ex­posed weather con­di­tions of East Angelia, where the ground was soggy, wet and unstable. Many of these grand walls are up to 50 bricks high. For dec­o­ra­tion, some have a three- brick, her­ring­bone pat­terned foot­ing, while oth­ers are capped by half bricks or rounds in a con­trast­ing colour.

A welcome side effect of these walls is that they have proved ideal for grow­ing fruit trees. The con­cav­i­ties pro­vide warmth from the sun, and shel­ter from the wind for early flow­er­ing pip fruits. To take advantage of this feature, many garden walls were aligned east-west, so that one side faced south to catch the warming sun and were used for growing fruits.

Suffolk-resident Ed Broom lists over one hundred examples in his county, at least of which are listed to at least Grade II standard.

Eye, Suffolk

SLANGE MUUR

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