When Robert Somerville moved to Hertfordshire from Devon, he discovered an unexpected landscape rich with wildlife, particularly elm trees. Nestled within London’s commuter belt, this wooded wilderness inspired Somerville, a lifelong woodworker, to revive the ancient tradition of hand-raising barns using locally sourced elm timber for material and the local community as labour. The story of the elm tree in the landscape is central to Barn Club. Its natural history and its historic importance in England, continental Europe and North America make for a fascinating story told by the author, a long-time admirer of this diverse and remarkable forest denizen.
“In today’s ego-techno-centred world, Robert Somerville’s . . . Barn Club approach is a way forward that utilizes local traditions, local materials, and local hands to create a built environment that is more harmonious with the natural world and of course more beautiful.”-Jack A. Sobon, architect, timber framer, and author of Hand Hewn
“Somerville knows more about wooden barn construction than almost anyone alive.”-The Telegraph
Natural history meets traditional hand craft in this celebration of the elm tree and community spirit.
When renowned craftsman Robert Somerville moved to Hertfordshire in southern England, he discovered an unexpected landscape rich with wildlife and elm trees. Nestled within London’s commuter belt, this wooded farmland inspired Somerville, a lifelong woodworker, to revive the ancient tradition of hand-raising barns.
Barn Club follows the building of Carley Barn over the course of one year. Volunteers from all walks of life joined Barn Club, inspired to learn this ancient skill of building elm barns by hand, at its own quiet pace and in the company of others, while using timber from the local woods.
The tale of the elm tree in its landscape is central to Barn Club. Its natural history, historic importance, and remarkable survival make for a fascinating story.
This is a tale of forgotten trees, a local landscape, and an ancient craft.
This book includes sixteen pages of color photographs, and black and white line drawings of techniques and traditional timber frame barns feature throughout.
Perfect for fans of Norwegian Wood and The Hidden Life of Trees.